If you thought that the state of politics in the United States couldn’t get any uglier, you were wrong. On Wednesday, it was discovered that packages containing explosive devices were sent to former president Barack Obama, former secretary of state and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and the New York studio of CNN.
Other prominent figures within the Democratic Party, including former attorney general Eric Holder, were also apparently targeted.
The incidents come two days after a similar device was reportedly found in the mailbox of George Soros, a prominent Democratic contributor and frequent target of attacks from right-wing media outlets.
Law-enforcement accounts indicate that the packages, which contained what have been described as pipe bombs, are likely part of a coordinated plot.
While an investigation into the packages ensues, the timing and targets of the scheme have prompted a firestorm of speculation from both sides of a polarized political landscape ahead of contentious congressional elections less than two weeks away.
Coverage from news outlets critical of President Donald Trump suggested that his inflammatory and divisive rhetoric may have led to the incident, which targeted prominent opponents of his. Right-wing commentary, meanwhile, expressed suspicion that Democrats were behind a “false flag” operation.
Among those suspicious of the attack was popular talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, who noted “it’s happening in October … there’s a reason for this,” suggesting that the Democrats had set up the incident.
Comments sections on popular conservative websites, such as Breitbart, were flooded with posts presuming that the packages were an attempt to drum up sympathy for Democrats ahead of the midterm elections.
Trump weighed in via a retweet of a statement from Vice-President Mike Pence:
I agree wholeheartedly! https://t.co/ndzu0A30vU
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 24, 2018
Regardless of the motive of the attack, the immediate effect of the plot appears to be a deepening of divisions between voters on both sides of the political aisle, with many suspicious of foul play at the hands of those with differing partisan loyalties.