One in three Americans say violence against the government can be justified, new poll claims

A year after the riot that took place at the Capitol to stop the certification of the 2020 election results, a poll found that roughly 1 in 3 Americans believe violence against the government is justifiable in certain circumstances.

The percentage of adults who say that violence against the government is justified has increased. In 2015, 23 percent of participants responded that way as did 16 percent of respondents in 2010, according to CBS News-New York Times polls.

Still, a majority of Americans say that violence against the government is never a justified, but the 62 percent who now hold that view is a low mark. In the 1990s, as many as 90 percent said violence was never justified. 

The reasons people felt violence against the government was acceptable varied. Responses included overreaching coronavirus restrictions, the disenfranchisement of minority voters, and the oppression of Americans.

An open-ended question on the survey about hypothetical justifications gathered responses that also included repeated mentions of the words and phrases “autocracy,” “tyranny,” “corruption,” and a loss of freedoms. 

The poll was conducted by the Washington Post-University of Maryland. The findings represent the largest number of people to report having that opinion since the question has been asked in different polls for more than twenty years.

Responses offer an insight into the country’s feelings at a turbulent time in American history, marked by the January 6 incident. Americans still feel very strongly regarding the government’s role in combating the pandemic, and last year’s racial justice protests deepened the divide between citizens even further.




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