America’s Crisis of Faith: Poll Reveals More Americans Are Rejecting the Constitution and Embracing Violence

Below is my column in on the poll released last week showing an increasing number of citizens have lost faith in our constitutional system and now view violence as warranted to silence those with opposing views. It is a crisis of faith that represents the greatest possible threat to our Republic. The loss of faith and fealty constitutes one of the greatest crises that our nation has faced since its foundation. Here is the column:

A recent startling poll shows that a majority of voters not only view the opposing party as a threat to the nation but justifying violence to combat their agenda. The poll captures a crisis of faith that I have been writing about for over a decade as an academic and a commentator. Many now question democracy as a sustainable system of government. It represents the single greatest threat to this nation: a citizenry that has lost faith not just with our system of government but with each other.

The polls by the University of Virginia Center for Politics shows a nation at war with itself. Fifty-two percent of Biden supporters say Republicans are now a threat to American life while 47 percent of Trump supporters say the same about Democrats.

Among Biden supporters, 41 percent now believe violence is justified “to stop [Republicans] from achieving their goals.” An almost identical percentage, 38 percent, of Trump supporters now embrace violence to stop Democrats.

Not surprisingly, many of these people have lost faith in democracy. Some 31 percent of Trump supporters believe that the nation should explore alternative forms of government.  Roughly a quarter (24 percent) of Biden supporters also question the viability of democracy.

Faith is the one thing that no system of government can do without. Without faith in the underlying values of a constitutional system, authority rests on a mix of coercion and capitulation.

For years, I have written about this growing loss of faith and how it has been fueled by our intellectual and political elites. In the echo chamber of news and social media, citizens constantly hear how the opposing party is composed of “traitors” and how the constitutional system works to protect enemies of the people.

Viewers now get a steady diet of figures like MSNBC commentator Elie Mystal who called the U.S. Constitution “trash” and argued that we should simply just dump it.

In a New York Times column, “The Constitution Is Broken and Should Not Be Reclaimed,” law professors Ryan D. Doerfler of Harvard and Samuel Moyn of Yale called for the Constitution to be “radically altered” to “reclaim America from constitutionalism.”

Georgetown University Law School Professor Rosa Brooks went on MSNBC’s “The ReidOut” to lash out at Americans becoming “slaves” to the U.S. Constitution and that the Constitution itself is now the problem for the country.

They are part of the radical chic that has become the norm in academia — and widely embraced by the media.

According to these law professors the problem is not just our Constitution, but constitutionalism in general.

Others have argued that key protections or institutions should just be ignored. In a recent open letter, Harvard law professor Mark Tushnet and San Francisco State University political scientist Aaron Belkin called upon President Joe Biden to defy rulings of the Supreme Court that he considers “mistaken” in the name of “popular constitutionalism.”

“Popular constitutionalism” appears a form of discretionary or ad hoc compliance with constituitional law. If only “popular” constitutional rules are followed, the Constitution itself becomes a mere pretense for whatever the shifting majority or forming mob demands.

Politicians have also contributed to this crisis of faith in challenging constitutional values or core institutions. Members like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) has questioned the need for a Supreme Court.

Others like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) have called for the packing of the Supreme Court to simply create an immediate liberal majority.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) thrilled his base by going to the steps of the Supreme Court to declare “I want to tell you, Gorsuch. I want to tell you, Kavanaugh. You have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price! You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”

It is little surprise that one man showed up at the home of Justice Bret Kavanaugh to kill him for his “awful decisions.”

Conversely, former President Donald Trump has regularly denounced his political opponents as “traitors” and “enemies of the people.” He recently declared “If you go after me, I’m coming after you!”

With leaders engaging in such reckless rhetoric, it is hardly surprising that the Constitution itself is now viewed as threat to our nation rather than the very thing that defines us. It is designed to restrain the majority and protect those who are the least popular in our society.

In the end, a constitution remains a covenant not between citizens and their government but between each other as citizens. It demands a leap of faith; a commitment that despite our differences we will defend the rights of our neighbors.

If nothing else, the Constitution has one thing to recommend it: we are still here. It is a Constitution that has survived economic and political upheavals. It survived a Civil War in which hundreds of thousands were killed.

It is not a particularly poetic document. It was written by the ultimate wonk, James Madison. If you want truly inspirational prose, try any of the French constitutions. Of course, they had more practice since they regularly failed. Other countries based their constitutions on aspirational statements of the values that we shared. The Madisonian system spent as much time on what divided us; it not only recognized the danger of factions but created a system to bring such divisions to the surface where they could be addressed.

The danger of other systems was realized when these divisions were left below the surface where they would fester and explode in the streets of Paris. The American Constitution allowed for a type of controlled implosion toward the center of the system; these factional interests would be expressed and vented in the legislative branch. The Madisonian system does not hide our divisions; it invites their expression.

The question is whether we have reached a time when the things that divide us will now overcome what unites us. This is not our first age of rage. Indeed, at the start of our Republic, rivaling parties were not just figuratively trying to kill each other; they were actually trying to kill each other through laws like the Alien and Sedition Acts. Thomas Jefferson would refer to the term of his predecessor John Adams as “the reign of the witches.”

Yet, that history is no guarantee that it can survive our current age of rage. The relentless attacks on the constitution from the political, media, and academic elite has turned many into constitutional atheists.  Yet, the future of our constitutional system may rest with the rising number of constitutional agnostics — those citizens who are simply disconnected or disinterested in the defense of our founding principles.

Philosopher John Stuart Mill warned in 1867 that all it takes for evil to prevail is for “good men [to] look on and do nothing.” We are now in an existential struggle to preserve the values that founded the most successful constitutional system in the history of the world. It is our legacy that now can be either boldly defended by a grateful people or lost in the whimper of a disinterested generation.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Chair of Public Interest Law at George Washington University.

220 thoughts on “America’s Crisis of Faith: Poll Reveals More Americans Are Rejecting the Constitution and Embracing Violence”

  1. The great problem your present in your writing is A problem due in large part to academia, the very system, you are a part of. Academia has all but eliminated our constitution from the education system. It is easier to lead around ignorant people than to let them know their rights and the restrictions on our representative government.

    Our forefathers were brilliant men. They studied 1000 years of government before they decided on our constitution. They put our constitution in a written form, so we the people could hold our Representative government accountable. Our constitution is the rule book of how our government must run. Article 6 of the constitution lays out in Crystal clear English that all of the representatives of our three branches of government, both federal and of states must swear a legally binding oath to support THIS CONSTITUTION. Our three Representative branches of government were supposed to be the guardians of the constitution. The judicial branch is the last resort of this guardianship. They have failed miserably. The Supreme Court has become an elite court that the average citizen has zero access to. They take cases that should take five minutes to rule on, stretching out the rulings for months.

    When a free speech case comes to the Supreme Court, it should take five minutes to make the ruling that the constitution does not allow the limitation of speech. Or a Second amendment case should also take five minutes since the constitution makes clear, just as in the first amendment, that the right to keep, and bear arms shall not be infringed. Judges, lawyers and politicians, most of which are lawyers have almost destroyed our country by usurping the constitution.

    If you really want to help this country, get back on track, then you with your great access to millions of viewers should push that every institution teaches the youth about the constitution as it is written, and not their warped view. Those unalienable freedoms cannot be walked upon in any way. That should be your cry to fix our country. You, Mr. Turley need to join those of us who are constitutionalist by demanding that our government follow this constitution.

  2. Amazing how our country and its citizens have prospered under this awful constitutional system! I can see why no immigrants want to come here anymore. I just don’t get why Alec Baldwin stayed after stating he’d leave if Bush was re-elected.

  3. We have a constitutional system? Really? Maybe in theory. Certainly not in practice. Americans are abandoning the pretense, the fiction, that we have a constitutional system. Nothing more. We are all becoming more based, more reality driven, and less under the happy-face delusions of those who pretend what our government has become. They pretend because they are afraid of what it is, or they have learned to profit and thrive under what it is.

  4. Like most of our “leaders” they say one thing and do to us another. This country hasn’t followed the Constitution in decades nor have those sworn to uphold their oath done so! Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Assembly, Freedom to Defend oneself with arms, etc. “shall not be infringed” and yet those oath takers are continually trying to do so. How can they keep their positions? Many in Congress hold two Citizenships; how can that be allowed, it certainly cannot be tolerated but it is because they rule by violence.

  5. I recently visited the National Constitution Center in Philly. The center had a live presentation titled “We the People,” which presented our country from its beginning until today. It had a live speaker with visuals shown throughout the speakers talk. At the end the speaker brought it all together with what we as people have in common without the division that is currently dividing us as a people. The ending was really emotional and I wish all Americans could have a chance to see it. The center has many educational videos and podcasts for people to educate themselves. is a good resource to view these.

  6. Non-partisan and non-political military leader, General Mark Milley, arguably made the greatest (and most accurate) retirement speech in over 50 explaining the American loyalty oath.

    Excessive secrecy in government (which Trump supporters claim to oppose citing a “Deep State” disloyalty to their oath of office) – “proper loyalty” of governing officials serving in intelligence, security, law enforcement and the military is a top priority. This loyalty oath is the same from the local police chief to the CIA Director to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

    If American officials adopted the American system with proper loyalty to the U.S. Constitution – it would have drastically reduced “Jim Crow” practices by local officials against African-Americans, Jewish-Americans, LGBT-Americans ((since the U.S. Constitution and Oath of Office includes the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments).

    Such a loyalty culture would have prevented McCarthyism targeting primarily the wrong targets – where Republicans invented an illegal-loyalty oath that violated the American Oath of Office.

    Such a loyalty culture would have prevented unconstitutional rulings during the War on Drugs. Millions of African-Americans would never had gone to prison for non-violent drug offenses and instead paid more taxes to government treasuries, boosting the economy, not destroying millions of lives and preserving the Fourth Amendment.

    Such a loyalty culture would have outright rejected the “Bush Preemption Doctrine” – where no evidence of any crime is required to search your phone, computer, home and personal effects (totally illegal under the Fourth Amendment). Republicans favored this unAmerican practice until the tables turned after January 6 – now some Republicans are on the receiving-end of these illegal abuses of power. Note: based on FOIA request records, this illegal practice had about a 90% or greater failure rate identifying any terrorists or anyone related to terrorism. Most of the emergency scenarios depicted on gross fictional shows like “24” happened 0 times in over 20 years. The closest examples were stopped by average citizens, not bureaucracies.

    Such a loyalty culture likely would have prevented Trump’s coup attempt altogether. On January 6, local and federal security and law enforcement were confused about chain of command issues and proper loyalty. Since the then president was highly disloyal to his oath of office, national security officials didn’t know who to follow.

    Here is Mark Milley’s 2023 retirement speech:

    “We don’t take an oath to a country. We don’t take an oath to a tribe. We don’t take an oath to a religion. We don’t take an oath to a king or queen or a tyrant or a dictator. And we don’t take an oath to a wannabe dictator…we don’t take an oath to an individual. We take an oath to the Constitution”.

    1. Shut up, Mark. Nobody buys your BS. You may have said these things, but you clearly didn’t believe any of them.

    2. General Milley violated his oath to the Constitution by adhering to China in phone calls. General Milley admitted so in a congressional hearing. According to the constitution, general, Milley committed treason.

      Also, the oath of office does not contain the amendments you cited.

      Your post seems to be nothing other than misinformation, this information and flat out BS.
      Did you learn this from a college professor?

      1. If the oath of office doesn’t include constitutional-amendments (part of the Constitution) – it also doesn’t include 2nd Amendment gun rights or the Bill of Rights (amendments 1-10).

        You are saying you have no property rights or gun rights?

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