Government is the institutionalization of violence, and democracy is the institutionalization of internal power struggles among interest groups. We are fed ideas about the splendor and glory of its rituals, buildings, and documents, but the underlying foundation remains what it is.
As something of an ex-anarchist, I recognize that institutionalization of violence is on the whole much better than free-floating, chaotic, unconstrained violence, which seems to be the alternative until the messiah comes and the lion lies down with the lamb. So by all means, let us have the best government we can manage, let us keep our political discourse polite, let us try and work out our conflicts with words and ballots rather than with fists and guns. But let us not be surprised when those efforts occasionally fail, because power, coercion, and violence underlie the whole elaborate machinery and sometimes the gears and wires poke through the surface.
The way things are shaking out in the US political system is that one side is willing and eager to deploy the rhetoric of violence while the other side mostly does not (despite that once in office they are just as willing to deploy actual violence). One side is rural and barbaric, the other is cosmopolitan and slick. One side celebrates raw power, while the other likes to pretend it doesn't exist. I'm culturally in the latter camp of course. I want to live in a peaceful, rational, and sane world. But in some twisted and perverse way I appreciate the existence of the former, because while the Democrats like to sweep power and madness under the rug, the Republicans gleefully turn the rug over and make all that stuff visible again.
[[update: Here's someone applying Bruno Latour to the analysis of agency in this situation. As is typical of my reaction to Latourianisms, I can't decide if it's deeply profound or blindingly obvious.]]
[[update: Political violence is as American as apple pie, says a history professor apparently actually named "LaFantasie"]]