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The United States government issued a threat alert on Friday, warning of a “heightened threat” to the 2022 elections fueled by the rise in domestic violent extremism (DVE). The joint intelligence bulletin issued by the Department of Homeland Security, the Capitol Police and the National Security Administration,  points out that the rise is driven by ideological grievances and access to potential targets.

The threat alert came the same day that Paul Pelosi, the husband of the U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was brutally attacked in the middle of the night in the couple’s San Francisco home. Pelosi, who is third in line to the presidency after Vice President Kamala Harris, was not at the home at the time. Responding police officers heard the 42-year-old assailant repeatedly ask “Where’s Nancy?” and said he was tying up her husband and planned to “wait for Nancy to get home.”

“Potential targets of DVE violence include candidates running for office, elected officials, election workers, political rallies, political party representatives, racial and religious minorities, or perceived ideological opponents,” read the bulletin.

Since the January 6 insurrection aimed at the United States Capitol and Congress, domestic terrorism is now considered the greatest threat to national security.

Insurrectionists at the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, dressed in combat gear. Photo by Colin Lloyd for Unsplash.

According to the United States Capitol Police, threats again members of the United States Congress have risen dramatically since 2017, a striking 144 percent rise. Just since Jan. 2022, Capitol Police have open 1,800 new threat investigations:

Year       Threats

2017       3,939

2018       5,206

2019       6,955

2020      8,613

2021       9,625

The notable slant of the Republican party toward the far right isn’t just fueled by white supremacists and election deniers and Christian nationalism and crazy QAnon believers, it is also being encouraged by Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin. At his recent annual conference with foreign international-affairs experts, Putin ranted about cancel culture and gay-pride parades. He’s trying to unite the global right.

What conclusions can ordinary Americans draw from all this?  First, it might be good to stop thinking of January 6, 2021, not as a single day in time, but as the opening event in a growing violent extremist threat environment.

As Dorothy said when she arrived in Oz — “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore Toto.”

Featured image: Dist. 60 Representative Ron Hanks attended the Jan. 6 Trump events in D.C. prior to being sworn in. While he initially said he did not go to the U.S. Capitol, several days later he changed his story. Image courtesy of Hanks’ website.