This week’s unity-fest between Republicans and Democrats is little more than a temporary cessation of hostilities. Both sides benefit from the photo ops it provides but both sides hope they will earn more political points than the other as a result. It is like the post 9/11 period in microcosm. It lasts as long as it takes for agendas to resurface, then that guy for whom you were just expressing your undying friendship and admiration goes back to being a racist, bigoted, homophobic war-criminal who is literally trying to destroy the entire planet.
Those beliefs don’t go away after a crisis like the Alexandria shooting. There’s just some vestigial part of the leftist psyche that remembers that continuing to act like a jerk after a tragedy is bad optics. It only applies to those in the spotlight though. The run of the mill left wing activist or social media troll uses tragedy as an opportunity to ramp up his douchebaggery.
There is no political unity in our ultra-polarized country, nor should there be, to be quite honest. The polarization exists because one side wants to “fundamentally transform” (i.e. destroy) the things that make America America.
Unity is one of those concepts like compromise. Being united, like coming to a compromise, almost always means moving the country to the left. It is almost always the right who gives in to appease the left. It’s true despite the wailing and gnashing of teeth that occurs whenever Republicans attempt to implement policy. Almost any time Washington takes action it results in the federal government having more power, spending more money, or curtailing more individual liberty. There are occasional back steps but the overall trend is leftward, toward more centralized government. Elections no longer decide the direction of the country. They only determine the rate at which we are moving to the left.
If you are an elected Republican, Democrats are not friends with different opinions. That is a description that perhaps applies to average citizens, neighbors, coworkers, family members. While I still balk at the hysterics about us being involved in a literal civil war, I am not naive enough to think Democrats want anything less than transforming America into a European style welfare state. To a large extent they already have. That sort of policy will never achieve its stated goals, so in the minds of progressives, the federal government will never have enough money or power. To get it, they will lie, cheat, defame or destroy anyone who stands in their way. Have you heard of Debbie Wasserman Schultz? Is she friend material? Far left progressives would destroy you in a heartbeat if it could advance their agenda.
The progressive left routinely tells horrible lies about not only the policies of the right, but about the motives of those who propose them. For some reason Republicans believe that this is something that happens between friends. How long would you stay friends with someone who constantly maligned your character in public? Not long, I suspect.
Maybe I just have an unreasonably high standard for deciding who I count among my friends, but if there is real friendship—as opposed to just superficial cordiality— between, say, Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi, or Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer (or Harry Reid), then the entire political show is a farce. The hostility and character assassination are just political theater meant to fool the proles into thinking someone in Washington is on their side. Either option is enough to turns one’s stomach.
When Washington is playing at being unified I very often think of the Steve Carell/Paul Rudd comedy Dinner for Schumcks. It’s not a great movie but it has it’s funny moments. The story revolves around a regular dinner held by some wealthy elites where each of them brings a guest who they consider to be a “schmuck.” The elites are callously exploiting the schmucks for their own entertainment but the schmucks think they’ve been accepted by the upper crust. In every one of these Washington unity displays, the Democrats are the elites and the Republicans are the schmucks. The GOP thinks that maybe the Democrats are finally coming around to accepting them as human beings while the progressives get to look warm and fuzzy for a few days before going back to slinging false stereotypes and denigrating the character of their “good friends.”
They say if you want a friend in Washington, buy a dog, but Republicans reject this notion and opt for the company of snakes and weasels.
Obviously the broken clock axiom sometimes applies. Occasionally some progressives will have short term goals that coincide with ours and we should work with them when that’s the case. Republicans too often act to appease the left though. I’m not advocating that Republicans fly into impotent rage at Democrats like President Trump on a 3 AM Twitter bender. I just wish they would stop letting themselves get played for schmucks.