Healthcare reform: America, the violent? How the political parties are complicit.
Throughout US history, major change has begotten radical rhetoric from both political parties. Healthcare reform is no different – and heated words can sometimes spark violence.
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Well, given that Thomas Jefferson was called the Antichrist by members of the Federalist Party, the pitched emotions at a major political crossroads perhaps aren't so surprising – nor are threats against lawmakers.
Instead, this moment is a part of what the American political process is, say some political analysts: Every major shift in policy or political direction is a revolution in miniature, with both sides retreating toward the radical to rhetorically demonize the other.
"It's part of the balancing act this country has faced the whole time," says John Geer, a political scientist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. "If we only had moderate rhetoric, how do you create change? When something is radically wrong, how do you not do something radical to get it back on track?"
"Yelling is one way to get people's attention, and it underscores the intensity of the movement," he adds.
Politics from the fringe
Yet such politics include a measure of risk. Words can, in fact, spark violence.
"If you mix [violent messages] with people who feel threatened by the new political landscape and feel that armed resistance is something that is legitimate, you are lighting a fuse on a literally explosive group of people," David Olson, a communications professor at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, told PR Newswire.