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The threat of political violence in the United States

A person walks by an illuminated LED billboard of a US Flag in Times Square, New York.
A person walks by an illuminated LED billboard of a US Flag in Times Square, New York.

If someone told you a few years back that the U.S. could be headed towards another civil war, you might’ve slowly backed away.

But the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol has changed that conversation.

Nearly half of American adults think another civil war is likely. That number is even higher for young people between the ages of 18 and 29 according to a national survey conducted by pollster John Zogby in 2021. 

Scholars who believe political violence is a serious problem are cautious about connecting it to the possibility of internal conflict.

So how should we be talking about the threat of political violence in the U.S.? And how useful, accurate, or harmful is the language of civil war in discussions about the where the country is headed?

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