Dalibor Rohac at AEI:

Fast forward to Slovakia, May 15, 2024. The country’s pugilistic prime minister, Robert Fico, was shot by a 71-year old man who, in his words, “[disapproved] of the government’s policies.” The perpetrator, a retired supermarket security guard and author of bad poetry, was a self-styled activist against violence and the coarsening of public discourse, presumably pushed over the edge by the overwrought polarisation that Slovakia has been experiencing.

Democratic politics, in Slovakia and in the United States, does not offer the prospect of a national kumbaya. While vastly different in any number of ways, both are pluralistic societies, with citizens who hold vastly conflicting opinions and values. From abortion and gay rights to geopolitics, we have no choice but to live alongside people whose views on fundamental issues we find abhorrent. The best democratic politics can do is to channel such conflicts—which can otherwise lead to bloodshed—into highly structured, institutionalised forms confined to the boundaries that most of us find legitimate. Here’s to hoping that, on the back of the disturbing story from Slovakia’s mining town of Handlová, we can re-learn to appreciate this miracle of Western political thought.