More and more in our politics, the loudest, angriest, most divisive voices get the most attention (and money). Real solutions, and the politicians who put their heads down to do hard work, get short shrift. Collectively, we have to lower the temperature. People keep getting hurt. We’re very lucky no one has been killed — and I worry I need to emphasize “yet.”
As a Republican, I know the original sin begins with us. Republicans — not all, to be sure, but enough — vilified Barack Obama’s most personal attributes. His religion was questioned. Racist cartoons were common. So were jokes about Obama’s African heritage (“Kenya hear me,” Texas Rep. Louis Gohmert said at a House Republican Conference meeting). Rebukes came, but they weren’t loud or frequent enough. The old “not one of us” racist trope remained.
Then along came Donald Trump, whose campaign message was essentially yelling “fire” in a crowded political theater. When Trump urged his supporters to “knock the crap” out of protesters, they obliged, just as extremists have when Trump told them in 2020 to “stand back and stand by.” Trump’s rhetoric — years of picking at our every division — made the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection inevitable.
It should remain an indelible stain on the soul of a party that continues to support Trump, whether out of opportunity or fear. [Continue reading…]