Violence is no stranger to American life. Its gun culture results in violence on almost a routine basis, so much so that we have become numb to the regular recurrence of mass shootings by people armed with highly powerful weapons. It takes a really high death toll to make the national news these days. We have also seen periods of severe political violence in the past involving groups like the KKK and when the government put down labor movements with great force. Recently during the Trump presidency we have seen a rise in violent political rhetoric that has again occasionally spilled over into physical violence.
In an article in the November 16, 2020 issue of The New Yorker, Evan Osnos examines the style of conflict in American politics that oscillates between persuasion and force. He says that political scientist Richard Hofstadter, towards the end of his life in 1970, became absorbed about the intersection of politics and force in the US and argued that the political violence in the US tends to take a different form than in most other countries.