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Demonizing political opponents — on either side of the aisle — slowly delegitimizes America and could lead to violence, a senior fellow at a liberal think tank told Fox News.

“The other side might be deplorable, one side might be hyper woke and crazy in its own way,” Shadi Hamid, who recently authored the book “The Problem of Democracy,” told Fox News. “Whatever terms we want to use to describe the other side, they are still Americans and we have no choice but to live with them.”

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Hamid, a Brookings Institution senior fellow and self-identified liberal, said Democrats shouldn’t cast Trump voters and other Republicans as “deplorable,” phrasing Hillary Clinton coined during the 2016 election. But he also said conservatives shouldn’t vilify their opponents, either.

Hamid stressed that there isn’t — and shouldn’t be — a way to disqualify political opponents from voting. He added that both parties should accept whoever wins the presidential election in 2024, regardless of their politics.

“If people don’t respect democratic outcomes, then obviously that raises the tension considerably,” Hamid told Fox News. “It can lead to a collapse of order of legitimacy for the American nation and our elected government.”

Pushing rhetoric that demonizes political opponents or rejects democratic outcomes delegitimizes the U.S., Shadi Hamid argues.

Pushing rhetoric that demonizes political opponents or rejects democratic outcomes delegitimizes the U.S., Shadi Hamid argues.
(L: Ty O’Neil/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images; R: JASON REDMOND/AFP via Getty Images)

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“That can sometimes lead to political violence — and we’ve already seen an uptick in political violence in our country in recent years,” he continued.

Hamid compared some Republicans’ efforts to decertify the 2020 election to the Democrat-led Russiagate investigations used to discredit the Trump presidency. Both efforts, he said, ultimately degrade American democracy.

Still, Hamid called rhetoric suggesting that the U.S. is headed toward civil war “alarmist” and said that most people will be peaceful.

Over time, delegitimizing the U.S. government could lead to political violence and unrest, according to Hamid.

Over time, delegitimizing the U.S. government could lead to political violence and unrest, according to Hamid.
(Serhat Cagdas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

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“That said, we’re in a big country, so even if a minority decide to riot, that can still have a profound impact on the sense of having a country that is stable and secure,” Hamid said. “Imagine, for example, if Donald Trump wins in 2024, I’m not sure I’d want to be in the middle of a major city right after that happens because … there could be a little bit of unrest.”

“I’m just more concerned with the kind of chaotic disorder—the kind of disorder that doesn’t necessarily ruin your life,” Hamid continued. “But it has a gradual effect in terms of undermining confidence in the American idea.”

To see Hamid’s full remarks about how demonizing political opponents delegitimizes the American government, click here.

Isabelle McDonnell contributed to the accompanying video.

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