Pluralism is the answer to political violence in the Trump era

Political violence in this country is on the rise and the U.S. is in a time of great political extremism. Average American voters on both sides of the political spectrum are taking to the streets with furled fists. Customary political functions have become a battlefield for the far-right and the far-left.

Donald J. Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States on Jan. 20, 2017. Following his inauguration as commander in chief, the nation began to see a rise in political violence. 2017 became a year wrought with murder and destructiveness. Several vicious attacks were committed by radicals on both sides of the political aisle.

In January 2017, just a few hours after the commencement, the violence of the Trump era had already begun. A member of Antifa was shot while protesting a Milo Yiannopolous speaking event at the University of Washington. In June 2017, the Republican team for the Annual Congressional Baseball Game for Charity in Alexandria, Virginia was interrupted by a gunman, James Hodgkinson, a volunteer during the 2016 Bernie Sanders campaign, who shot U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and three others. In August 2017, at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, a white supremacist ran a woman over with his car. In more recent news, Cesar Sayoc was arrested for mailing pipe bombs to sixteen different high ranking members of the Democratic Party in October 2018. Online there are dozens of video clips of the radical left-wing activist group Black Bloc clad in black masks as they walk through the streets destroying random public property and throwing glass bottles at police cars.    

Though the political turmoils of the Trump era may leave many Americans feeling like they live in a dark time in the nation’s history, the truth is that the Founding Fathers predicted that this would one day happen. They predicted that the political parties in this country would become radicalized and factionalized, with white supremacist fascists on one side of the political aisle and anarcho-communists on the other. James Madison dedicated an entire section to the topic of factionalism in “The Federalist Papers no. 15.” Madison reasoned that a series of competing factions fighting for vastly differing political doctrines would be the best way to avoid any one faction dominating the entire political system. This is a philosophy known as pluralism. The system is set up in such a way that it doesn’t matter how radicalized one party gets because there will always be an opposition party to create checks and balances.  

The counterargument to this is that, as some have argued, Trump is a fascist and this supposedly perfect system let a fascist become commander in chief. But, in response to this, it is important to note that many of Trump’s policies have not succeeded precisely because we live in a pluralistic society. In the pluralistic philosophy, it is the job of the Democratic party to regulate the actions of the Republicans, while the Republicans are in power and vice versa. We have seen examples of this throughout Trump’s tenure in office. In his first year in office Trump signed into law 117 bills, but many of his more radical policies have failed to find tenable traction. Examples include the transgender military ban, the Muslim ban, border wall funding and even the denudation of the ObamaCare.

Without the Republicans to push back against him, President Barack Obama would have been a de-facto dictator instituting whatever Marxist ideas he had, unbridled and unburdened by the moderating forces of the right. President Trump would be a tumultuous right-wing fascist oligarch, deporting millions of people and building walls wherever he pleased if it were not for the healthy pushback of the Democratic Party. Both parties need one another. The country is better off with both, rather than one or the other.

 

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