Law enforcement from different agencies work the scene of a shooting at a shopping mall in El Paso, Texas, on Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019. Multiple people were killed and one person was in custody after a shooter went on a rampage at a shopping mall, police in the Texas border town of El Paso said. (AP Photo/Rudy Gutierrez)
Before I begin, this will be one of those rare times where I make the disclaimer that my opinions do not reflect the opinions of RedState as a site, nor do they reflect the opinions of my colleagues here. The views I am about to express, views which you will probably disagree with, are my own.
There is a very fine line that we have to draw when we talk about the effects of “rhetoric.” Under no circumstances am I going to blame President Donald Trump for the shooting in El Paso, Texas. The fault of that shooting is squarely on the shoulders of the young man who committed the act. His own views and his own disregard for the sanctity of life led him to doing what he did.
Likewise, if someone were to see Joaquin Castro’s tweets publicly identifying private citizens who support Trump, see that Castro is calling for action against these voters, and then attack or even kill one or more of these supporters, I would not blame Castro for the act. He is not telling someone directly to go attack a private citizen because they support Trump.
However, the rhetoric used in both cases has proven to be dangerous. Because the words themselves are divisive and pit one side against another, you will naturally have someone who takes those words the wrong way and will make a terrible choice on their own. The rhetoric, then, falls just shy of handing a killer a loaded weapon and telling them to fire. I do not believe Trump or Castro would ever intend for this to be the case, but the scenarios should cause any normal human to stop and reflect.
Days after the shooting in El Paso, Castro puts out his tweet and later defends it. Several members of the Democratic Party and several members of the media also rationalized it, with various defenses that include “People who support white supremacy SHOULD be called out” and “it’s public information so who cares?”
The next day, Trump is asked if he thinks his rhetoric on illegal immigration has anything to do with the shooter, and he doubles down on his rhetoric. Hours before that, he took to Twitter to berate Beto O’Rourke and other opponents. Both of these events come a day – less than twenty-four hours – after he called for unity in our nation.
In the world, there exists evil. It takes hold and leads people to commit terrible sins. We have seen in just the past few years that many of these evil acts happen in response to political or social beliefs, beliefs that are espoused every day in our society, the tension in response to these beliefs subsequently becoming more and more intense. This creates more evil, a retaliatory evil, that is even more difficult to ignore than the last.
This evil worries me – actually, “worry” is not strong enough a word. It sickens me. I spent most of the day yesterday questioning why anyone would think that, after the El Paso shooting, publicly calling for action against Trump supporters is a good idea. The responses I got horrified me. Not too long before I finally logged off of Twitter for the day, Trump doubled down on his comments on immigration. I imagine that more people will add their own gasoline to the fire today, and things will just continue to get worse.
In terms of political strategy, Trump is making a terrible mistake. The Democrats are proving they are but children whose only responses to him are childish and petty. They lack maturity and sense, and they bring shame to themselves (assuming politicians even feel shame anymore), and they bring shame to their constituency. There is no reason to vote for any Democrats in 2020 because the ones seeking office have proven they lack the maturity to actually govern. Instead, they claim that Trump wants to divide us all while simultaneously ensuring that their supporters stay mad at Trump and work to make other people mad at him. They want to win through negativity, and it is going to take this wildfire of hate and give it more fuel.
If someone in the White House could convince him to play the part of an adult, stay off Twitter, and work to unite communities torn apart by political hate and mass violence, then there is no reason he can’t turn his public image around and start regaining some of what was lost in 2018. The Democrats aren’t learning any lessons, so it’s time for the Republicans to show that they can.
However, they are not trying to make this happen and, as a result, I will not be voting for Trump either. He called for unity one day, and turned around and continued to play off the already staggering divisions within our country. He is not playing the part of a grown-up in the White House, and it is making the situation worse. This is not about political strategy: It is a case of doing what is right. What is right is working to unite and heal the country. What is right is seeking conversation and communication and working to provide solutions.
What isn’t right is continuing to do what has caused this violence and has kept our country in socially dark days since Obama was in office. Playing off of divisions may look good for the base, but it is toxic to society.
A pox on the houses of the Democrats and the Republicans. I had thought that maybe the economic strength of our country might be enough to keep me positive through this election, but the sapping of all social strength by both parties is too much to bear.
Never will I tell you to vote for a Democrat, and never will I choose to vote for one myself. But right now, there is nothing encouraging me to go vote at all in 2020. The rest of you can sort this out. I’m just going to pray that we can heal.