What’s Right: Political Attack, Polarization and Pipe Bombs

Violence, harassment and criminal activity committed in the name of a political or ideological cause is wrong, regardless of what side it is coming from. This should not be a political issue, nor should such immoral action be attributed to individuals who explicitly condemn it. However, following the recent mail bombing attempts which targeted prominent Democrats, the left, along with members of the media, have attempted to blame the act on rhetoric from President Trump and other Republicans.

At a time when both sides of the political aisle are so polarized and constantly engaging in political rhetoric, it is imperative that rhetoric and incitement of violence not be conflated. Inappropriate and divisive political rhetoric is endemic to American politics and has long preceded Trump’s presidency. Those who point to Trump’s recent praise of Montana Congressman Greg Gianforte’s wrestling skills as an endorsement of violence overlook Hillary Clinton’s blatant defense of incivility against the Republican Party following the Kavanaugh confirmation: “You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about.”

While there is certainly an argument to be made about whether such statements contribute to the already toxic political climate, to deem a political opponent personally responsible for inciting rational people to send death threats, ricin or bombs to politicians and their family based on moments like these is a dishonest and illogical political attack. One of the rare moments that Democrats and Republicans came together and recognized this was following the congressional baseball shooting in June of 2017.

After a Bernie Sanders supporter and presidential campaign volunteer opened fire on Republicans while they practiced for a charity baseball game, Sanders addressed the shooting on the Senate floor, stating, “violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms.” When addressing the House of Representatives later that day, Speaker Paul Ryan declared, “an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us,” receiving a standing ovation from both parties.

It would have been easy for Republicans to have exercised the same malicious standards the left has now chosen to attack Trump and Republicans with. Rather than trying to unify the parties, Speaker Ryan and other Republicans could have gone on a political assault, demanding that Sanders take personal responsibility and calling the tragedy proof of the evil on the other side. However, the overwhelming response from the media and politicians was characterized by a logical understanding that Sanders, despite having made inflammatory claims that Republicans would kill thousands with their healthcare plans and only cared about the rich, was not to blame for the shooting. Instead, responsibility was rightly put on the perpetrator.

The only people who could take political rhetoric, whether it be from Democrats or Republicans, and turn it into a shooting, death threats, an attempted bombing or worse are already truly evil, insane and garbage human beings that both sides would condemn in a heartbeat. This should be evident to everyone excluding the most ideologically possessed.

As we approach midterms, it is increasingly tempting for both sides to falsely accuse the other of obscene motivations and crimes in an effort to win over voters. However, if the two parties are to have any hope of working together following the midterms and enacting positive change for the country, Democrats and Republicans both need to take a deep look at themselves and establish, if possible, some standards of decency.

Contact Connor Madalo at [email protected].