Demonizing political opponents delegitimizes America and could lead to violence, says liberal scholar
Demonizing political opponents — on either side of the aisle — is slowly delegitimizing America and could lead to violence, a senior liberal think tank official told Fox News.
“The other side could be deplorable, one side could be hyper-awake and crazy in their own way,” Shadi Hamid, who recently wrote the book “The Problem with Democracy,” told Fox News. “Whatever words we want to use to describe the other side, they are still Americans and we have no choice but to live with them.
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Hamid, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a self-identified liberal, said Democrats shouldn’t call Trump voters and other Republicans “deplorable,” as Hillary Clinton put it in the 2016 election. But he also said conservatives shouldn’t vilify their opponents either.
Hamid stressed that there is not – and should not be – a way to disqualify political opponents from the right to vote. He added that both parties should accept whoever wins the 2024 presidential election, regardless of his politics.
“If people don’t respect the Democratic results, obviously that increases the tension tremendously,” Hamid told Fox News. “This can lead to a breakdown in the order of the legitimacy of the American nation and our elected government.”
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“This can sometimes lead to political violence – and we have already seen an upsurge in political violence in our country in recent years,” he continued.
Hamid compared efforts by some Republicans to decertify the 2020 election to the Democratic-led Russiagate investigations used to discredit the Trump presidency. Both efforts, he said, ultimately degrade American democracy.
Still, Hamid called the rhetoric suggesting the US is heading for a civil war “alarmist” and said most people would be peaceful.
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“Having said that, we are in a big country, so even if a minority decides to revolt, it can still have a profound impact on the feeling of having a stable and secure country,” Hamid said. “Imagine, for example, if Donald Trump wins in 2024, I’m not sure I want to be in the middle of a big city right after that happens because…there might be a bit of a commotion.”
“I’m just more concerned with the kind of chaotic mess — the kind of mess that doesn’t necessarily ruin your life,” Hamid continued. “But it has a gradual effect in terms of undermining faith in the American idea.”
To see Hamid’s full remarks on how demonizing political opponents delegitimizes the US government, click here.
Isabelle McDonnell contributed the accompanying video.