After this month’s shooting at a Republican congressional baseball team’s practice outside Washington, D.C., we saw members of Congress from both sides of the aisle come together in friendship and camaraderie. There were countless calls for civility, joint press conferences, prayer services, and many more inspiring signs that we are one nation. It felt like September 12, 2001 again — people set aside their differences and focused on loving each other.
It didn’t last long.
The shooting occurred about 15 minutes from my home, in an area I know well. I’ve been to several congressional baseball games before, and I’ve even met some of the members of the GOP team. I was glued to my TV all day watching the news, and I made sure I was there when they played the congressional baseball game as scheduled two days later.
Usually, news networks cover big, shaking events like this wall-to-wall for a couple days. But the very night of the shooting, while Congressman Steve Scalise and two Capitol police officers were fighting for their lives, a new “bombshell” about the endless Russian collusion investigation dropped, and the media was right back on their familiar topics.
I grew up in D.C., and I’ve seen this story play out before, most notably with the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords in 2011. Even though the shooter was mentally disturbed and was not motivated by politics, people in Washington still rallied around each other and called for an end to the over-the-top rhetoric. But within a couple weeks, we were back to the normal rancor of partisan politics.
I was hoping this time would be different. The shooter was inspired and motivated by a hatred for people who disagreed with him. He gobbled up red meat from the left wing and had an utter contempt for anyone remotely conservative. We could draw a clear link between the shooter and today’s vicious political rhetoric and say, “We helped cause this.”
But the rhetoric is now worse than ever.
After the Senate GOP unveiled their health care reform bill, Democrats immediately attacked it as “heartless” and “mean.” But they went even further than that. Much further.
Al Franken said the bill would actually kill people. Nancy Pelosi said millions of people would die as a direct result of the GOP bill. Bernie Sanders toned it down half a notch by saying only thousands of people would die.
And while the hysterical rhetoric has mostly been on the Left, it hasn’t been confined there. President Trump’s recent misogynistic, inexcusable attack on an MSNBC host hasn’t helped matters either.
Can we stop this? Can we get a grip?
Weren’t we just saying a couple weeks ago that, although we may disagree on policy, we are all motivated by love of country?
I don’t know how to change things. But something has to change.
Having a little respect, charity, and good will towards each other would be a good start.