Political differences fueling violent outbursts, experts say

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Political experts say the hostility between the two main political parties is the worst it’s been in 100 years.

They say right now, the right and the left find themselves more separated on certain issues, and the debate over who is right is what has unfortunately often spurred violence.  Some say the divide we see now has not been this bad since the debate over slavery.

“It’s a very ideological divided nation,” Political Expert Richard Meagher told 8News.

Meagher says the political battles we see on capitol hill do have an impact on constituents.

“We don’t want to say this caused violence in this way, but it’s not surprising to get outbreaks of violence related to politics if you have a dysfunctional political system, I’ll put it that way,” Meagher said. “The dysfunctional system can create an environment where people of all kinds look to other methods of influencing politics.”

Meagher says some of those methods are good and creative. But others, like the incident we saw Wednesday in Arlington involving violence, are not constructive at all.

Meagher says the political animosity we’re experiencing today is the worse its been in more than a century.

“We’ve seen patterns like that before, but not for a hundred years. It’s a very kind of 19th-century pattern,” Meagher said.

But why is it happening now?

“Republican members of Congress are way more conservative than they use to be, Democratic members of congress are way more liberal than they use to be,” Meagher said.

Meagher said the parties today find less common ground than ever in decades past.

Local church leaders say they hope the violence nationwide will stop.

“I do not believe that violence is a way to be heard and solves anything, violence is a way to continue to be wounded and marginalize people,” said Rev. Kenny Callaghan with the Metropolitan Community Church of Richmond.

Meagher says the country goes through different political cycles, he says the animosity between constituents will not get better until lawmakers start first finding common ground with each other.

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