Thursday, June 15, 2017

We Are NOT Enemies - Of The Country Or Each Other

This picture (from ABC News) is of a home-grown American terrorist. He took a rifle and shot five people in Virginia on Wednesday -- including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a congressional aide, a lobbyist, and two Capitol police officers. Fortunately, none of them were killed.

This shooter is a bit different, because he is from the left and was targeting Republicans. He was a supporter and volunteer for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primary. Most other home-grown terrorists have been from the right.

Bernie Sanders, to his credit, spoke up quickly and decisively to condemn the shooting. He said:

“I am sickened by this despicable act. Let me be as clear as I can be. Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms.”
I do believe that the political rhetoric engaged in by too many of our politicians (and their supporters) is at least partially responsible for these kind of terrorist acts from both the left and the right. And it starts at the top. Donald Trump has been quick to call both the media and his political opponents the "enemy". And he's not alone. Hillary Clinton called Republicans her enemies in the last election. Too many people on both the right and left have embraced this view that those on the other side of the political spectrum are enemies.
Russia, Iran, North Korea, and possibly some other countries are our enemies. But political opponents in a democracy such as ours are not enemies. Democrats are not enemies of Republicans, and Republicans are not enemies of Democrats. We are just Americans with a competing political view of how to make our country better -- and that is as it should be in a vibrant democracy.
I am an unabashed liberal Democrat. I believe the Republican agenda will harm this country and many of its citizens. I have said that in the past, and I will continue to do so. But the Republicans are not my enemy, and I am not their enemy. And I expect they will continue to vociferously defend their political views, just as I will.
It is not wrong to fight for your political views. That's what makes our democracy great. But the fight is to be held in government, at the ballot box, and in public discourse. It is NEVER to be done with violence.
Labeling our political opponents as enemies just encourages violence -- and that destroys democracy.

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