Divided States of America?

As somebody is sending explosive devices to politicians and public figures, what effect it might have on American politics? Another step towards political civil war, if I can use this phrase, or an opportunity to calm down the situation? Read few comments.


Steffen SchmidtLucken Endowed Professor of Political Science, Iowa State University

American politics has become much more intense, nasty, even brutal than anything I have seen since the 1960’s when the Vietnam War protests and tensions and racial unrest erupted.

These produced mass protests and coupled with civil rights protests and violence, the assassination of Martin Luther King, the assassination of president Kennedy, the shooting of his brother Robert Kennedy. It also exploded into massive burnings of cities and violence at universities.

I was at Columbia University studying for my PhD from 1964-68. The campus was taken over by radical leftists (the Students for a Democratic Society – SDS), by black radical students who occupied other buildings, then followed by brutal attacks and violence against these students from conservative, “patriotic” construction workers and other opponents. A radical splinter of SDS- the Weathermen – was making bombs in a very expensive house in downtown New York City (these were very rich radicals) when they made a mistake and blew up their own building!

My oral PhD exam had to be moved from the Columbia campus to another building. it was very hot, there was no air-conditioning, the windows were open and tear gas from the police trying to suppress the violence drifted into the room. I and my professors were “crying” from the gas!

There were deaths of students at Kent State University when nervous and untrained National Guard troops fired into a student demonstration.

This period also brought to an end the possibility of a second term for President Lyndon Johnson why decided in an emotional speech not to run for reelection because there was so much violence and intense opposition to him.

So the current bomb threats are disturbing and a sad decline of US politics but they are not unheard of in history. I will not give you my list of bombings in the USA because it is too long!

Yes, I believe that the bomb threats will have a deep impact on the elections. many people are concerned that President Trump is encouraging violence when he approves of politicians assaulting journalists, his crowds beating people at his rally’s, and his weak response to the murder of the Saudi journalist. We don’t know who is responsible but conspiracy theories are already abundant. Was it Democrats, Socialists, and progressives trying to mobilize their base against Republicans and Trump? Was it Russian inspired and intended to disrupt US elections? Or was it Republicans trying to blame Democrats and creating fear among progressives to suppress the 2018 vote? Or maybe it was just a mentally disturbed person??

Civil war is too strong. Civil disruption and polarization is clearly now evident in the USA. This will be a very important election, perhaps one of the most significant in 100 years. One think is unprecedented and that is the lack of compassion and calming leadership by a President. Mr Trump must stop fanning the flames and making the division and tension much worse. We also need to reexamine the negative role of social media as a tool for division and violence.

Matthew Eshbaugh-SohaProfessor and Chair of Political Science, University of North Texas

National events like this, especially those that portend violence, provide an opportunity for political leaders to unify to speak in larger and non-political ways. Initially, we had this from President Trump. And, indeed, Vice-President Pence and others are talking law and order in support of the FBI and “bringing the perpetrators to justice.”

Yet, symbolism matters here. We have another missed opportunity by the President to appeal to the nation, and not his base, in attempting to unify and very divisive country. I think many hold out hope that the president will be this president; but going forward, nobody should expect the president to go high and unify the country. President Trump is simply too tied to his base, and he does not want to let them down. Blaming the media is exactly what his base wants to hear and believe. But presidents are supposed to rise about such short-term political considerations at times of national crisis.

Robert SchmuhlProfessor of American Studies, University of Notre Dame

It seems as though the United States is becoming the “Divided States” with each passing day. The mailing of explosives to several political and public figures, all of whom have been critical of President Trump, is proof of this growing division. Previous presidents emphasized the importance of unity for America. Not Donald Trump. Since his inauguration in January of 2017, he has been more interested in strengthening the support of his political base, his core constituency, rather than bringing different groups together. Now we see these actions of potential violence–and right before important midterm elections. It’s anyone’s guess what might happen next, but it’s clear that more division will weaken the U.S. and make the world question the nation’s future.

John PitneyProfessor of Politics, Claremont McKenna College

We don’t know if the bomber has a political motivation or a mental illness.  But we do know that Americans are deeply divided.  President Trump has an opportunity to act like an adult and adopt more mature rhetoric.  But he won’t.  He will continue to use insulting nicknames and refer to his critics as enemies.

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