By Ryan Oldham
Wednesday morning House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., was shot in the hip practicing baseball with colleagues in anticipation of Thursday’s annual Congressional Baseball Game..
Thankfully, he and the several others shot are OK, and the shooter is dead. Unfortunately, the identity politics surrounding the issue are still alive and are the reason why this shooting happened in the first place.
As Jon Stewart once said, “It is not OK to shoot people you disagree with.”
His quote reverberates almost daily in this country, reinforcing the quote’s timeless, especially in a time when people are constantly berated for their political beliefs.
Nowadays people seem to be going through their lives being told they’re a terrible person if they’re a Republican or a Democrat. There’s no middle ground in identity politics.
The shooter, who will remain nameless in this column, worked as a volunteer for the Bernie Sanders campaign. So obviously, before I’d even sipped my coffee this morning, Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., blamed the shooting on Democratic rhetoric.
“I can only hope that the Democrats do tone down the rhetoric,” Collins said. He also unironically said the “finger-pointing” has been outrageous.
Not surprisingly, Fox News have always jumped on the right-wing bandwagon and are politicizing the shooting. Bernie Marcus, co-founder of Home Depot, said he was “so worried” about the lives of President Trump and Paul Ryan ‑ only those two.
Sanders, of course, condemned the attack, saying that he was “sickened” by it. Sanders has always condemned any violence, so it comes as no surprise, but what is surprising is his need to do it. His immediate condemning of the attacks shows that he knows somebody will try to blame him in some way for the shooters extremely loose ties to his campaign.
Yes, the shooter was a Bernie Sanders supporter. So was I. So were millions of others. But Rep. Collins seems to be lumping all left-wing rhetoric together. We’re this close to shooting a congressman, by Collins’ standards.
President Trump also condemned the attack, as he should, but where were his words when Richard Collins III, a black man, was fatally stabbed by a white man who was a member of a racist Facebook group? What about when Turkish President Erdogan’s men beat and kicked protestors and journalists in Washington? It even took him three whole days to condemn the Portland attack by a white supremacist on three men who were defending Muslim women. Two of the men died, and Trump mustered less than 140 characters, three days late.
Here’s the problem with these attacks. If you’re going to condemn one, you have to condemn them all, and identity politics have made us so used to politicians not doing this, that we now think it’s the norm.
We seem to have come to a crossroads that we can continue down one way and watch more people get shot, stabbed, and killed by terrorists on the left and the right, or we can come together to try to put an end to it.
Politicians must start campaigning on what they will bring to America’s table, not what they’ll shove off the other candidate’s. Climate change should not be this polarizing. Abortion doesn’t either. Today’s leaders must work together for the greater good instead of trying to fuck over the other side for power.
Too many times I have seen a politician fall in line after Election Day and lie to the American public about what they’re doing. Our own president is a prime example of this.
A third and fourth prominent party would help. There’s no possible way that a two-party system is helping this country heal. It’s making America worse, and if either party thinks it’s going to get better with either of their policies and government, they should think again.
Congressional approval is 20%; disapproval is 74%. Making the House and Senate blue in 2018 won’t change that. Those numbers will just switch to favor the right wing. People just sit idly by and try to persist with the democratic process and get nowhere. You only have to write an email to your senator to know that they haven’t read a thing.
Polarization has ruined this country politically, and no campaign slogan will make it better for anybody. Actually, it will make it worse.
Nothing will ever condone the actions of the terrorist who shot Majority Whip Scalise yesterday, but we must look at the system that it is crashing and burning before our eyes. The system is why this shooting happened, and it’s why more will happen if nothing changes.
This article was edited by Rachel Wohrlin for The Next Ten Words
Ryan Oldham is a political correspondent for The Next Ten Words. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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