The horrifying attack on Paul Pelosi is an attack on democracy

America is now a nation where acts of political violence are so predictable that for months before an assailant broke into the San Francisco home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and attacked her husband, Paul Pelosi, on Friday, experts have warned such an incident was likely.

“Politically catalyzed violence should be expected to rise with the election calendar and to fall between campaigns,” Rachel Kleinfeld, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment, said in testimony to Congress in March.


And in early October, Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine told the New York Times that threats of violence against members of Congress have become so intense that “I wouldn’t be surprised if a senator or House member were killed.”

Public officials, and their families, should not have to live with this level of fear. It is horrific that campaign season has become a time of violence and threats rather than healthy debate about the issues.

Democrat Nancy Pelosi was in Washington, D.C., when the intruder broke into her San Francisco home shouting, “Where is Nancy? Where is Nancy?” before attacking her husband with a hammer, fracturing his skull and seriously injuring his arm. Police booked David DePape — who reportedly said he was “waiting for Nancy” after police arrived at the Pelosi home — on suspicion of several crimes, including attempted homicide and assault with a deadly weapon.

A Los Angeles Times review of DePape’s online presence shows he was engaged in spreading far-right conspiracies, spewing antisemitism, hate and bizarre QAnon screeds and posting videos from Donald Trump supporters pushing the bogus claim that the 2020 election was stolen.

Yes, occasional political violence across the ideological spectrum is as old as America itself. What’s different now is the frequency. In the five years after Trump was elected president in 2016, recorded threats against members of Congress rose more than tenfold, to 9,625 in 2021, according to a New York Times analysis of figures from the Capitol Police.

A Simi Valley, California, man was arrested near the Maryland home of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh in June after he flew across the country with a black tactical vest, a Glock 17 pistol and, according to authorities, a plan to harm the Supreme Court justice.

In August, two men were convicted of conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in a plot that involved obtaining a bomb to blow up a bridge and thwart police.

Republicans who believe that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump and that Joe Biden is an illegitimate president are “substantially more likely” than other Americans to believe that violence is justified to advance political objectives, according to a new study by the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program.

“They are more likely to hold extreme and racist beliefs, to endorse political violence, to see such violence as likely to occur, and to predict that they will be armed under circumstances in which they consider political violence to be justified,” the authors wrote. This trend is a stain on the nation and something leaders of all kinds must work to reverse. Violence against public officials and their families is the mark of an undemocratic society.

— Los Angeles Times

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email