Rally attacks infringe upon democracy

There are certain familiar events once can expect to see during a presidential election. Protests and political outrage are not new to the election season and the presidential elections are becoming similar to sporting events.

Both teams have their diehard fans who trade ugly insults and comments driven by hate. Both internationally and at home, the U.S. presidential election is mocked for resembling a circus sideshow. We see the same events every four years but never think much of them.

They have become the norms of our political process and their presence has become inevitable. Violence is becoming a new norm that is gaining traction in this election cycle and it is harmful and dangerous to our democracy.

The latest example of this new norm took place in San Jose, where Donald Trump’s supporters were attacked outside of one of his rallies. Sucker punches were thrown, U.S. flags were burned and Trump supporters were chased and assaulted as police stood idly by and watched the carnage unfold.

The attacks were only the latest in a series of violent offenses committed by protestors that have followed many of Trump’s rallies, including those in Albuquerque and Orange County, California. Democratic nominees Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, along with U.S. citizens and other officials, have condemned these attacks. The frequency with which the attacks appear, however, has not slowed down.

If these attacks were random one-offs, they would not be so worrisome. However, the so-called protestors who have carried out these assaults, disruptions and acts of vandalism believe that they have done no wrong. They believe they are justified in their violence because, for a year, Trump has been represented in the media as some sort of a boogeyman. The left labels his supporters as poor and unintelligent, and then comically wonders why his voters will not switch sides. They overuse words like racist and Nazi in reference to those same supporters in an attempt to dehumanize them while completely depriving those words of their actual meaning. After months of these tactics, it is not very surprising that events have escalated to a boiling point.

Perhaps most alarming of all is the tendency to blame the people who have been assaulted at these political rallies. The people carrying out these attacks are the same ones who claim that the attacks would never have happened had the victims supported the “right” candidate. Attackers believe that they are committing an act of justice by violating someone for wearing their Trump gear in public. They buy into absurd claims such as comparing Trump to Adolf Hitler in an effort to justify their hate and violence.

These disruptive protestors claim that Trump and his supporters incite violence, even though the attackers themselves are ones who seem all too happy to actually carry it out. The left is quick to preach ideas of diversity and tolerance but not when it comes to ideas that oppose their viewpoint.

The ultimate irony in all of this is that destroyed property, vandalism and violence do nothing to support their cause. No one switches their political beliefs because they were assaulted over them.

Instead, they double down on those beliefs and feel as though they were justified for having them in the first place. When undecided voters turn on their televisions and see the violence unfold, they do not sympathize with the brutes who are carrying it out. They look toward the candidate who is being attacked and begin to suspect that there may be something substantial to what he is saying.

Incidents of violence at political rallies continue to grow and November is nowhere yet in sight. The race will undoubtedly heat up in rhetoric this summer and it is very likely that assaults will continue to grow in number, to the point where they no longer faze us. It will simply become the norm to punch, spit at and hate the opposing party. Domestic terrorism will have a firm hold in our political process.

Even more so, democratic values preach the support of diversity of ideas and beliefs in its implementation and use. If violence occurs against a candidate during a political rally simply because of differing views, democracy diminishes.

If someone believes that their political cause is truly the righteous one, then they should be able to convince others of it with words instead of violence. As it stands, regardless of one’s own views of any particular candidate, it is now normal to use violence against opposing political beliefs, something that should worry anyone who enjoys living in a democratic society.