Until very recently, Americans have more or less agreed that government’s job is to secure the basic individual rights of the American people, even if they disagreed what constituted “basic individual rights“. Elections would come. Political slogans would be rolled out. Competing philosophies would become the topic de jour. On election day, after a heated season of politicking, leaders would be elected, and then they would figure out how to govern and tolerate one another at the same time. A growing number of Americans seem now, however, to believe government has a very different purpose: making their political opponents miserable.
If these people believed otherwise, they’d have abandoned the current political regime a long time ago. They haven’t. They have shown no qualms supporting even the most incendiary statements, the most ridiculous accusations, and the most openly hostile policies and rhetoric coming out of Washington and in social media, regardless of how much discord it creates among their fellow Americans, so long as it creates discord among their fellow Americans. It’s clear that making their countrymen miserable is, for now at least, part of their politics and, by natural extension, of their government.
They justify this nonsense by pointing at 8 years of divisive politics under Obama, and, let’s be honest, they are not wrong. Obama, especially early in his presidency, but even in his second term, resorted to more than a little insult and partisan policy, all of which can only be described as divisive, and he was hardly alone. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid did more than their fair share in Congress to demolish any semblance of bipartisan cooperation, gutting the power of the minority Republican caucus in the House and Senate. Harry Reid even went so far as to repeatedly slander Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on the Senate floor.
So, let’s not mince words. The vile sickness that infests our national government isn’t new, it’s just common to both major parties now. A question that should give Americans on both sides of the aisle pause is “What happens the next time the tables turn?“
“We are not solving problems. We are adding to them. And I am not interested in laying blame. We are not settling scores. We are wiping the slate clean… In other words, we need to return to regular order.”
-Congressman Paul Ryan, 2015
Have Trump voters already forgotten that their own discontent with the opposition leadership in Washington was enough to push Trump past vastly more qualified and much less unsavory candidates in 2016? Have they already forgotten their own deep emotional opposition to Hillary Clinton was enough to send Trump to the White House despite being trailing in polls from the moment he accepted the GOP nomination in Cleveland? Anger, once ignited, doesn’t go out easily, especially if people are foolish enough to continue throwing new fuel on the fire every single day. As it turns out, misery is motivating.
Yesterday, Democratic candidate Doug Jones won a special election for the Senate seat left vacant by Jeff Sessions, turning a very red state more than a little blue for the first time in a quarter century. Just a little over a month ago, both the governorships of New Jersey and Virginia went from red to blue. Not even a year into Trump’s first term, with margins in the House and the Senate getting smaller and Trump’s popularity continuing to trend downward, despite being newly elected in an expanding economy, maybe it should occur to someone that repeatedly and purposefully provoking half of the country may not be the best governing philosophy.
Sadly, getting anyone on Trump’s side to listen to even good advice hasn’t worked out well for anyone, regardless of their intentions. Personally, I’ve long since given up trying to deal rationally with Trump’s supporters, and I take them at their word when they say that there is nothing Trump can do or say that would stop them from supporting him, so long as it causes their political opponents emotional distress of any kind. So will the loss of the Alabama Senate seat inspire even a moment of reflection for these people?
No, not even a little, but it should, dear readers. It most certainly should.
Liberty is For The Win!