Dangerous Democracy 

Note: Originally posted on Dave Kinchen’s Facebook page on March 13th, 2016. 

“Somebody’s going to emergency. Somebody’s going to jail.”
It’s the title of a great episode of The West Wing; a show I watched a lot in the 90s and early 2000s- when I was majoring in politics at Michigan State University.

But that title could just as easily speak to the latest violence we’ve seen on the campaign trail in the last few days.
Consider:

The chaos at Donald J. Trump’s Chicago event AFTER it was canceled for safety reasons.

A supporter sucker punching a protester at another event.

Another protester making a bull rush at the candidate, prompting the Secret Service to jump in.

The candidate saying he would punch a protester and telling supporters he’d pay their legal fees if they got into a scuffle with these “disruptive people.”

Honestly my fear isn’t that someone will go emergency while the other goes to jail.
I’m truly afraid something worse may happen.

Someone could get killed.

What has happened to our discourse in America?

We have been politically polarized for years but this is something different.
I’ve never seen it like this before.

People seem to feel that civility confines them like shackles and that they no longer find it appropriate to remain respectful when issuing a perspective on something.

How does that happen?

Careless conjecture carries with it dangerous risks…especially for potentially unbalanced people in some of these crowds.

Democracy is about the free exchange of ideas and opposing perspectives.
We have so many civil options to voice our disagreements and positions.

Our democracy thrives on it. Violence can never be the answer.

The first campaign I covered was George W. Bush’s in 2000. I also saw Joe Lieberman that year as part of Al Gore’s ticket.

Both rallies had high energy, partisan zingers and perhaps some form of protest as did the campaign events I covered in 2004, 2008 and 2012 but NOTHING compares to what has happened in the last few days.

I pray to God we don’t see any more of it. I don’t want anyone getting hurt, much less anything worse.

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