In the week following the shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise
, politicians ranging from President Donald Trump to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have all called for renewed efforts at Party Unity. However, new polls show that Democrats and Republicans seem split over the cause of the shooting. According to NBC
“By a 20 point margin, 52 percent to 32 percent, more Republicans than Democrats called the shooting a result of political rhetoric. A majority of Democrats — 55 percent — called it an isolated incident”
While Republicans and Democrats may differ in their responses here, the truth is not a binary. While the FBI claim they have “not yet clarified who, if anyone, [the shooter] planned to target” or why, it seems clear that his anger was exacerbated by the growing unrest in US politics.
Their profile claimed the shooter was living a “pattern of life where you could tell things were not going well”. Sadly, that description fit a lot of politically active people; people who use politics as an outlet for their own issues.
The real problem comes whenever we create these sort of “us” and “them” scenarios; because the world is usually not that black or white, and anyone who tells you otherwise is probably trying to sell you something.
“[the incident] was part of a pattern …You have an increasing intensity of hostility on the Left. Look, I’ve talked to college students regularly who say to me if they openly are for Trump, they get threatened. I’ve had college students say they’ve been threatened with getting beaten up, some of them get death threats.
The intensity on the left is very real, whether it is somebody holding up – a so-called comedian – holding up the president’s head and blood, or it is, right here in in New York City, a play that shows the president being assassinated, or it’s Democratic leading national politicians who are so angry that they have to use vulgarity because they can’t find any common language to talk about. This intensity has been building, I think, since election night.”
There are a lot of elements of truth in there, but it’s also buried in partisan rhetoric. While I’ve been increasingly aware of radicalism building on my side of the political spectrum, blaming the polarized state of modern politics entirely on the Democrats is unfair and unrealistic.
Having said that, when it comes to this sort of behavior, we have a responsibility to police our own communities. It is shameful to hear about Democrats like Phil Montag of the Nebraska Democratic Party
saying they are “glad [Scalise] got shot”. That’s simply unacceptable behavior and it does nothing to help move our country forward. Frankly, we need to do better.
Thankfully, Steve Scalise is stable and out of intensive care
, but that doesn’t mean its time for us all to move on. The incident caused Nancy Pelosi and Paul Ryan to hold their first ever joint interview, but the calls for party unity need to last for more than one weekend. If we’re serious about fixing things, we must continue seeking out opportunities for bipartisan cooperation.
If we can get together for a baseball game, we can get together to fix infrastructure, help create jobs and continue to make America the kind of country we’re proud to call our home.
As Senator Chuck Schumer told CNN: “If we can still, despite the rhetoric, work together … that’s a very good thing”
[Cover photo via CNN.com]