A politically motivated shooting accounted for several injuries and, in the process, the death of the gunman, James Hodgkinson. In the course of such events, political division by political leaders gets put to rest — at least for a few days. Everybody says all the right things. They do joint interviews, take photos with each other and get along.
One shouldn’t expect the harmony to last.
Outside of Congress, the mood was much different. Plenty of people were happy to point the finger of blame at Democrats and Bernie Sanders for horrific events. Hodgkinson’s history of left-wing political activism goes back to the Occupy Wall Street protests, and he was a fervent Sanders supporter and actively anti-Trump.
It’s effortless to want to point the finger at Bernie Sanders and Democrats, singling out their rhetoric towards Donald Trump as a factor in Hodgkinson’s rampage but the only one to blame for the shooting is James Hodgkinson. That said, while the responsibility for the shooting rests entirely on the shoulders of Hodgkinson, it is fair to say the political climate gave him an excuse and a reason to feel good about what he did.
Many on the right only exacerbated things. Newt Gingrich said, “You’ve had a series of things that send signals that tell people it’s okay to hate Trump,” he said. “And now we’re supposed to rise above it? Maybe this is a moment when everybody takes a step back, but there is no evidence of it.” It was the perfect red meat for the masses who want to blame Democrats for the shooting.
People say social media is not a reflection of the population as a whole, but I disagree. I just happen to think social media gives people an outlet to say things they might not otherwise say in person. Many people on Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere were happy to blame the shooting directly on Democrats and their rhetoric towards Donald Trump.
The media also didn’t help, with the NY Times leading the way, engaging in a smear of Sarah Palin, linking her to the shooting of Gabby Giffords by Jared Loughner. Even after issuing a “correction,” the Times editorial still reeked of opportunism to temper criticism of the left in the wake of Hodgkinson targeting Republicans. NBC’s Chuck Todd went the “We’re all to blame” route, dishonestly casting a wide net as a means of avoiding a confrontation with Democrats over the shooting.
The question is whether or not people will choose reason and rationality over finger-pointing and casting blame the next time something like this happens. Over at Legal Insurrection, Kemberlee Kaye wrote the following:
If we want things to be different, we must act and do differently. It is far easier to blame than it is to do, but ultimately, it is up to each of us to do our part to ensure this country, our home, and our future is the absolute best it can possibly be.
Make sure to read the whole piece. It’s a compelling argument, but if you scroll down and get to the comments, you’ll see:
The fact of the matter is that “we” don’t need to do a damn thing different. “They”–the left, the media, that whole set of crazies–need to change “their” behavior.
What do you think is going to cause that change to happen? That’s the discussion that needs to occur here.
Welp, we’ll agree to disagree. This is not a ‘cycle’, this is entirely one side attacking the other side, my side. Every day is a relentless assault on our way-of-life, our God-given liberties, and indeed our lives. It’s like fighting jihadis, unless you’re willing to name your enemy, you don’t have a chance of successfully defending yourself.
Kemberlee’s article is pretty much what every battered wife says when she goes and puts up bail for the guy who just gave her a pair of black eyes.
It is not saying if a similarly published piece appeared on a left-of-center site, people in the comments section there wouldn’t have similar takes about the right. It’s a near-certainty they’d exist. And therein lies the problem.
If people always think the worst of somebody’s motives for something they support or a policy proposal they want to implement, nothing will ever get accomplished. People latch on to the most harmful elements within the political realm instead assuming the worst of their intentions instead of the best. Believe it or not, people on the opposing ends of the political spectrum are out there willing to have productive debates about policy, legislation, and ideas. It’s those people and not the extremes who need get together and do the hard work to deal with issues facing the country.
It sounds easy, right? I wish it were. Unfortunately, we currently exist in a political climate driven by the worst elements of politics rather than the best. The extremes are pushing the agenda on the both the left and the right.
“So what’s the solution, Jay?”
Honestly, I don’t know. I wish I had the answers. All I can say now is I don’t see any improvement on the horizon, and that doesn’t bode well for the country at all.