Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stood on the House floor and implored her colleagues to hold Paul Gosar accountable for sharing an altered anime video showing him killing her and attacking Joe Biden.
“Our work here matters. Our example matters. There is meaning in our service,” Ocasio-Cortez said in her speech last week. “And as leaders in this country, when we incite violence with depictions against our colleagues, that trickles down into violence in this country.”
House Republicans heard Ocasio-Cortez’s impassioned plea and responded with a collective shrug. All but three Republican members voted against censuring Gosar and stripping him of his committee assignments, while every House Democrat supported the resolution.
The Gosar incident served as the latest data point in an alarming trend in American politics. In a year that began with a deadly insurrection at the US Capitol, lawmakers have seen a sharp rise in the number of threats against them. Republicans’ muted response to Gosar’s behavior has intensified fears about the possibility of more political violence in America in the months to come. …
And those kinds of threats are not reserved solely for members of Congress. Election workers and school board members also say they are receiving more violent messages. According to an April survey commissioned by the Brennan Center for Justice, nearly one in three election officials are concerned about their safety while on the job.
Stephen Spaulding, senior counsel at the government watchdog group Common Cause, described such violent tactics as “a core threat to our democracy”.
“The threat of violence is really to intimidate people from doing their jobs and upholding their oath of office,” Spaulding said. “When you start having these violent episodes enter the system, it is totally counter to the way that we are supposed to engage in open and fair debate about policy issues in this country.”