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Lynne McTaggart's picture
July 19, 2024
by Lynne McTaggart

Image from iStock on Lynne McTaggart's blog

Former President Donald Trump’s assassination attempt last Saturday has highlighted, in giant capital letters, how dangerously uncivil modern politics has become, in America, in the UK and in many parts of Europe.

Here in the UK, where I live, we have had two assassinations of members of Parliament in recent times, one a young woman with two young children. With the advent of social media, virtually all politicians live with online death threats on a daily basis. All of them, including MPs, beg for extra security agents.

This is not a partisan problem; if President Trump was targeted, so was Nancy Pelosi, America’s first woman Speaker of the House of Representatives, who has received more threats of violence or death than any other American lawmaker.

The threats culminated in far-right advocate David DePape breaking into her San Francisco home in 2022, demanding to know where Nancy was (he’d planned to kneecap her, so, wheelchair bound, she’d be a constant reminder to her colleagues of the consequences of their voting record).

Instead DePape found her 82-year-old husband Paul in bed, and when he discovered Nancy was not home, he attacked Paul viciously with a hammer, fracturing his skull.

Emergency surgery saved his life but altered it, possibly forever. As of June 2024, Nancy told an American broadcaster, “He's making progress. He's about 80 percent there, physically. Traumatically, it's terrible.”

Although she has now stepped down as House minority leader, she is still a congressperson, and like most American lawmakers, will only travel when accompanied by heavy security detail.

Assassinations have always with us in politics; four American presidents have been assassinated through US history, as have presidential candidates, such as Bobby Kennedy Sr. At least six other presidents, such as Ronald Reagan and George W Bush (twice), have been shot at and survived.

It’s easy to blame assassination attempts on the crazies and conspiracy theorists, but they represent only the extreme end of a...