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US political analysts warn of conspiracy theory-fuelled political violence ahead of 2024 elections

US political analysts warn of conspiracy theory-fuelled political violence ahead of 2024 elections
22 Nov 2023 10:28

DINA MAHMOUD (WASHINGTON, LONDON)

Just days after a US federal court convicted the person who attacked the husband of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last year during an assault aimed at kidnapping Pelosi herself, analytical circles in Washington expressed their concern about the increasing likelihood of politically-motivated acts of violence, as the US presidential election, scheduled for less than a year away, approaches.

Experts confirmed that the years when the presidential race is held in the United States are often marked by violence, whether manifested through hate crimes or violent reactions to the election results. According to the experts, the 2024 elections are expected to be no exception.

Jacob Weir, a researcher at the Council on Foreign Relations’ Study Centre in New York, emphasised that the conspiracy theories used to “demonise” political opponents are no longer a marginal presence in American streets, but have begun to seep into society on a large scale.

Experts point out that the adoption of such theories was among the main reasons that led crowds of Americans to storm the Capitol at the beginning of 2021, protesting the presidential election results conducted weeks before, disrupting a joint session of Congress. In the following months, US authorities observed that the pace of threats directed at legislators and federal and local officials was accelerating. Last summer, the US judiciary issued prison sentences for individuals convicted of leading the storming of the Capitol, handing down prison terms reaching up to 18 years after several weeks of trials.

However, these sentences - described as stringent - did not prevent analysts, including political polarisation expert Brian Hughes, from warning that the conspiracy theory issue is currently worsening, with perpetrators exploiting the widespread use of social media.

In this regard, Hughes criticised what he described as “laxity in supervising content circulated through communication platforms”, which may push some towards violence based on false or misleading information.

In statements in an Associated Press news agency report published by the Miami Herald on its website, American experts and analysts called for “lowering the temperature of political discourse” to reduce the chances of any acts of violence in the period leading up to the elections, scheduled for November 2024.

These experts also emphasised the necessity of developing policies that would limit the adoption of extreme political orientations in the US, whether the proponents of these ideas subscribe to right-wing or left-wing ideologies.

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