Demonizing political opponents delegitimizes America and could lead to violence, liberal scholar says

Demonizing political opponents – on both sides of the aisle – slowly delegitimizes America and can lead to violence, a senior fellow at a liberal think tank told Fox News.

“The other side can be scary, one side can be hyper woke and crazy in its own way,” Shadi Hamid, who recently wrote the book “The Problem of Democracy,” told Fox News. “Whatever term we want to use to describe the other side, they are still Americans and we have no choice but to live with them.”

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Hamid, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a self-identified liberal, said that Democrats should not consider Trump voters and other Republicans as “sad”, a phrase coined by Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election. But he also said that conservatives should not insult their opponents either.

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Hamid stressed that there is no – and should be – no way to disqualify political opponents from voting. He added that both parties should accept whoever wins the presidential election in 2024, regardless of their politics.

“If people don’t respect the results of democracy, then obviously that raises the tension significantly,” Hamid told Fox News. “It could lead to the collapse of the order of legitimacy for the American people and our elected government.”

Pushing rhetoric that harasses political opponents or denies democratic results delegitimizes the US, Shadi Hamid said.

Pushing rhetoric that harasses political opponents or denies democratic results delegitimizes the US, Shadi Hamid said.
(L: Ty O’Neil/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images; R: JASON REDMOND/AFP via Getty Images)

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“It can sometimes lead to political violence – and we have seen an increase in political violence in our country in recent years,” he said.

Hamid compared some Republican efforts to decertify the 2020 election to the Democrat-led Russiagate investigation that was used to discredit Trump’s presidency. Both efforts, he said, ultimately undermine American democracy.

Still, Hamid called rhetoric suggesting the US is heading for civil war “alarmist” and said most people would be peaceful.

Over time, delegitimizing the US government could lead to political violence and riots, according to Hamid.

Over time, delegitimizing the US government could lead to political violence and riots, according to Hamid.
(Serhat Cagdas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

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“That being said, we are in a big country, so even if a minority decides to riot, it can still have a big impact on the sense of having a stable and safe country,” Hamid said. “Imagine, for example, if Donald Trump wins in 2024, I’m not sure I want to be in the middle of a major city after that happens because … there could be a little riot.”

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“I’m just more concerned about the kind of disorder – the kind of disorder that doesn’t necessarily ruin your life,” Hamid continued. “But it has a gradual effect in terms of undermining confidence in the idea of ​​America.”

To see Hamid’s full comments on how demoising political opponents delegitimizes the American government, click here.

Isabelle McDonnell contributed to the accompanying video.

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