The congressional hearings investigating the circumstances that led to the riot at the U.S. Capitol in order to prevent the certification of President Joe Biden's election has put scrutiny on organizations like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers. 

Both groups played a role in the insurrection and had members who were charged in the riot.

Sam Jackson, an assistant professor at UAlbany's College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity, pointed to the long history of such groups in American history. 

But this time, there is a crucial difference: Many of these organizations have sought to build ties with elected officials. 

"Right-wing extremism both organized and less organized forms, this is nothing new in American history," Jackson said in a Capital Tonight interview. "We can see examples of this going back decades, if not centuries. What's interesting about groups like Oath Keepers and Proud Boys is perhaps the connections they were able to make including with elected politicians and intermediaries with the Trump administration itself."

The organizations have also sought to expand to the mainstream, though recruitment has been hampered by efforts to suspend their activities on social media platforms. And the polarized political culture has also played a role. 

"I think polarization does play a role in this, although it's really important to point out the polarization is asymmetric," Jackson said. “In other words, the right side of the American political spectrum has moved further to the right dramatically more than the left has moved leftward in recent years.”