How come there are no political assassinations in this country anymore? Where are the militants?

Disclaimer: I am NOT advocating this.

I overheard some people wondering why someone hasn’t done the deed against either Trump or Republican senators like McConnell or Ryan. People mutter about it —but are terrified to even put that into words online or speak it over the phone. There is a sense that democracy is doomed so people should take matters into their own hands, etc. And then when yet another mass shooting happens I hear people saying “Why aren’t they shooting the right people, instead of innocents?”

It got me thinking: Have there been close/credible assassination attempts against the president that we don’t hear about? Or are people so docile, passive and hopeless that radicals wouldn’t even try? Or radicals don’t even exist. You would think with all the suicidals, depressives and loonies out there someone would try. I know there are the Antifas, but they seem like an anarchic mess. The days of the Weather Underground, Black Panthers, Red Army Faction, etc. are long over I guess. And the most of the people with the weapons are on the winning team now anyway (which is not a coincidence).

Again, I am NOT advocating any violence. Just a topic for contemplation.

Well, for one thing, I think we’ve learned a hell of a lot about security since the days of JFK. For another, I think we’ve learned that the best way to STRENGTHEN your enemies is to make a martyr out of their leaders. MLK, Jr. is an excellent example of that.

I certainly hope you are NOT advocating this.

Donald does not deserve martyrdom. Nor do we want to see Kushner run to figuratively pick up his torch and carry it. He deserves to die in the same manner as Michael Corleone- alone and missed by nobody.

If someone really wants to do it, they can. It just takes a willingness to realize that you can’t do it and get away with it.

I meant to say NOT! How do I edit this?

I was half-asleep when I wrote that and I intended to say “NOT ADVOCATING”. Why can’t I edit or delete my post?

I’ve done that for you. A PM or post report will also get the attention of the mods.


The edit window is 5 minutes. Can’t edit after then. I’m sure I’m not alone, but I reported the post to get that cleared up.

Edit to add: thanks, bone.

We’ve seen attempted assassinations against Congress. Gabby Giffords, and the Republican baseball team, for example.

(Thank you for editing my post! I’m most definitely not advocating violence, I am just curious about the politics of this topic.)

You’re right about the martyr issue…

I’ve been reading a biography of Lenin, and recently read one of Stalin. The level of callous disregard for human life was astounding. It was ALWAYS the ends justify the means for them.

I think what the OP is asking is not why there aren’t more dead presidents/congresspeople but why there aren’t more dead/failed assassins.

Maybe the Secret Service is just that good…and takes the “secret” part of their name seriously.

James Hodgkinson did try to assassinate Congressional Republicans last year. Thankfully he failed to kill any of them, but he did wound a handful. And I don’t know about “terrified” by it, but transmitting death threats online or over the phone is a good way to bring a lot of unwanted scrutiny onto oneself. For example, this dumb educator appears to be well on her way to getting fired.

There were several attempts (if you want to call them that) against Clinton. A fellow outside the White House Gate started firing with an assault weapon, another fellow vaulted the gate with a pistol (which may not have been loaded; my memory is faulty), and yet another fellow tried to crash a Cessna into the White House. The abject failure of all of these probably indicated the immense security surrounding the President at all times. I’ve heard horror stories about people being locked in bathrooms for hours because they didn’t get out of an area in time. I had to wait at an intersection in Chicago for 20 minutes once because George W. Bush was coming through and the road was secure. Chances are that security (around the President, anyway) is so daunting that potential assassins never get a chance. Likewise, it’s not impossible that any number of assassins are caught every year; we just don’t hear about them.

That said, I had a terrible thought a couple of years ago when visiting the Nebraska State Capitol. There are no metal detectors anywhere, and visible security (even in the gallery overlooking the Unicameral chamber) appears to be nonexistent. Further, since the Unicameral convenes in January, a bulky overcoat concealing a light assault rifle wouldn’t look out of place at all. In effect, our State Senators are sitting ducks. Anyone wanting to open fire would be able to hit several of them before they could get to cover. Thankfully, no one seems so moved.

A big part of it may simply be that with the exception of the members of the SCOTUS who are of the opposite party than the POTUS is, assassination wouldn’t change anything politically. It it happened to Trump, Pence would replace him. If it had happened to Obama, we would have had Biden. Most of the senators and house members would be replaced by someone else from their own party should they be assassinated. On top of that, as already mentioned, the victim would become a martyr for whatever cause they represented.

Well, that guy DID try to kill a bunch of republican congressmen not long ago.

When a bunch of people can track down and run senior office holders out of restaurants (and are, in fact, encouraged to do so), I’m sure violence is not that far behind. Not looking forward to it, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least.

That probably has a lot to do with why there have not been more organized, competent assassination attempts from within the relatively orthodox political spectrum. I’m not sure why we have not seen more of this sort of thing from anarchist circles, though. I don’t think Leon Czolgosz had anything against McKinley specifically, for example - he just wanted to Smash the State.

FWIW, here is Wikipedia’s list of White House Security Breaches, at least of few of which may have been (rather looney) assassination attempts.

The shootng at the Republican baseball practice would have been the largest political assassination in history as far as I can tell, were it not for the lucky happenstance that the speaker happened to be there with his security detail.

Had he not been there, it seems likely that we would have seen everyone in the dugout murdered. Hodgkins was walking toward the trapped and unarmed Republicans with his rifle at the ready when he was shot by the security guys.

Killing that many Republicans could have triggered a political crisis, because any that came from states with a Democrat governor could have been replaced with a Democrat, changing the balance of power due to an assassination.

And didn’t someone just try to send ricin to Predident Trump and General Mattis? Would mailing deadly poison to a President be considered an assassination attempt?

Then there was a guy a few weeks ago who tried to assassinate a Republican candidate for office, but failed when his switchblade didn’t open correctly.

And think of poor Rand Paul. Not only was he shot at at that baseball game, he was also beaten and hospitalized by his neighbor. After getting out of the hospital he has been hounded out of public spaces by angry mobs, and he has received so many death threats that his wife says she has to sleep with a loaded handgun beside her.

I’m so old that I can remember when civility was our highest moral purpose, ‘eliminationist rhetoric’ was expanded to claims that saying ‘we have to target that state in the election’ was incitement to violence. I mean, that’s got to be almost six years ago. I wonder what changed since then?

One can only hope that in the situation of the red congressperson from a blue state or vice versa that the governor would stick with someone of the same party as the deceased representative or senator. If I was the governor and a Republican representative or senator in my state was assassinated, I would appoint a Republican to replace the deceased individual, despite me personally being a Democrat.

I think our political system doesn’t encourage the militant assassin mentality. You don’t have groups of people who feel so oppressed and disenfranchised that they feel they need to resort to assassination as a means of regime change. Our assassins tend to be solitary figures with mental problems.

If I’m recalling correctly, we’ve only had two assassination conspiracies in the United States. John Wilkes Booth and his southern sympathizers attacking Lincoln and other members of his administration in 1865 and Puerto Rican nationalists attempted to kill Truman in 1950. (There have been other groups that plotted to kill an American President but these all acted outside the United States.)

That is certainly possible that it could have been the bloodiest American assasination attempt. The other two that come to mind would be the 9/11 attack (which could have been targeting either the Capitol or the White House; if the Capitol then who knows what the toll would have been) or the Puerto Rican nationalists who shot up the House of Representative while they were less than a hundred feet from more than 200 congressmen. It would seem like a miracle that so few were injured in that attack.