American history is full of incidents where citizens, deranged or not, have resorted to violence to solve personal and political problems. This started in Washington's administration, or even earlier. On the other hand, we can be grateful that most politicians, reprehensible as some might be for encouraging violence, at least generally accept the consequences of elections and accede to the peaceful transfers of power that elections require. That tradition started in Washington's administration also. At least we can be grateful that our system has not broken down to the extent as in the Ivory Coast, where the president who lost the election a couple of months ago, still refuses to leave office, and the duly elected new president is holed up in a hotel protected by UN peacekeeping forces.
So for those who are in despair about the state of our nation, in the wake of the Giffords shooting today, these pictures, most from the swearing in of new members of Congress last week, might make people feel a little better. I am not suggesting letting anyone off the hook for the kinds of incendiary statements that could have encouraged today's incident (especially including the infamous Palin map), but at least we can take some small comfort in the fact that there are no national leaders who are suggesting in the wake of this tragedy, that taking elected officials out by any means other than the ballot box could ever be justifiable.