Unless we tone down the rhetoric, the U.S. will never again be one nation under God, indivisible
On Friday, FBI agents arrested a man who had mailed bombs to many prominent Democratic leaders, including former President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
On Saturday, 11 more people senselessly died when they were shot while at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.
The violence is an outgrowth of the hate and polarization which is taking over our country. Sadly, we are no longer one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all, as we once said every morning as we recited the Pledge of Allegiance before school.
The political rhetoric is so virulent, corrosive and hate-filled that it has turned neighbors against each other and has split families. White supremacists have been emboldened by a President who fails to strongly denounce their agenda and instead notes there are good people on both sides.
The logical outgrowth is that when one is subject to this type of discourse on not just a daily basis, but also hourly, a mentally disturbed person will be pushed over the edge and inclined to act, as 46-year-old Robert D. Bowers allegedly did Saturday in Pittsburgh.
The solution to preventing these mass shootings isn’t simple, but it has to be multi-faceted. Better mental health care coverage is a critical piece of it.
The fierce debate over how to respect the rights the Second Amendment gives our citizens while also enacting common sense gun laws inevitably leads to anger, divisiveness and resentment, but no solution.
We desperately need to solve these problems, but they’ll take time.
One thing that can change immediately, though, is the tone used in our political discourse.
President Trump’s great skill in life has been his ability to market, to sell something that isn’t there or isn’t real. On Oct. 22 at a campaign rally in Houston, the President told the crowd that he was working on a 10-percent middle class tax cut that he said would be finalized before the November mid-term elections.
It sounded great.
Except, it was a lie.
Congress wasn’t in session at the time and won’t be in session again until after the election. Given Congress is the entity authorized to raise or lower taxes, there will be no tax cut for middle-income people before Election Day.
The President knows it. He uses words as weapons in an attempt to attract support. If he believes you’ll vote for the candidate he wants you to vote for if he promises you a 10 percent tax cut, he’ll promise that tax cut even if it’s logistically impossible.
He cheered the actions of a then Congressional candidate in Montana for assaulting a reporter, even though as the nation’s chief law enforcement official he’s condoning unlawful violent behavior.
His campaign rallies are like sporting events and attendees give thunderous applause to the President’s most outrageous lines, whether true or not, as if their team just scored an important touchdown in the big football game.
The overwhelming majority of people go home from those rallies and never do anything violent. They many develop an us-against-them view of the world after hearing how the left is the enemy and the press is the enemy. That leads to harsh feelings against perceived political opponents.
However, we have a mental health crisis in the U.S., and there isn’t adequate help for people who need it. And some of those people, wanting to feel important and part of something larger than themselves, react the wrong way.
The President can make a difference by denouncing violence, and by campaigning for his proposals without making incendiary comments.
Former President Obama called him out on it Friday in Wisconsin.
Trump has tweeted that Democrats are trying to take away coverage for pre-existing conditions and Republicans will protect it, even though Republicans have voted to repeal Obamacare more than 70 times and have worked hard to remove coverage for pre-existing conditions from your health care policy.
Many people believe him, despite his record of repeatedly lying.
And that’s where we come back to toning down the rhetoric. When the President rails on the media at his rallies, it’s not long before the rally goers are confronting media members. It’s the beginning of a downward spiral.
We need to end the tribalism, and recognize that someone with a different view than ours is not an enemy, or an idiot. That person is a citizen, often a friend or family member, and we all theoretically want the same thing: A strong, successful and free country.
We can debate fiercely which is the best path to get there, but we have to reject the politics of hate and division.
The politics of hate and division ultimately leads to what happened in Pittsburgh today, and in Las Vegas last year.
Urge the President to tone down that kind of message, and pledge to be more tolerant of other’s views.
They will be the first tiny steps on the path to solving this epidemic of mass shootings that plagues our country and has snatched so many of our loved ones from our midst well before their time.