I’m not certain any of us would have predicted the state of American politics to have turned into the circus (and here I mean Roman circus) that it has. Most of us have been engrossed in the soap opera-ish spectacle of the accusations surrounding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh (we can’t even call it Reality TV, because it doesn’t rise to that level).
What do we see? We see Senators (who were not under oath in those hearings) behaving in the most despicably demagogic ways, another Senator who is going to be investigated for leaking the document that began this entire business (after she held on to it since July), and I could make extensive use of a thesaurus if I were to describe all of the nonsense we see on TV and read about this.
The accusation against Kavanaugh began with sexual assault, and now has devolved into speculating about his drinking, use of code words for flatulence (in a Senate hearing, no less), and now, that dastardly cur may have thrown ice. That certainly merits a Georgetown professor advocating horrible deaths for Republicans, castrating their bodies, and feeding them to swine, no?
What has happened to us?
Many have been aware of this tendency of some on the Left to accuse those on the Right of the most extreme evils (you’d be hard-pressed to find an election cycle in which multiple Republicans aren’t accused of gleefully plotting the deaths of certain people-groups in America, most often children and the elderly). There’s also the episodes of violence we’ve seen from those on the Left.
But what about the Right? The Right has always claimed to be the side of Family Values, morality, and smaller government. Is this what we see in the era of Trump? While it is by no means ubiquitous, we have seen Republicans go along with a gigantically bloated omnibus bill (it’s not a budget, they still can’t get one of those passed), and just last week the “minibus” bill they passed reinstated the funding for Planned Parenthood and dropped the ban on research on aborted baby parts (aka “fetal tissue”). And when it came to light that President Trump had cheated on his wife with a porn star, the number of times he was given a pass and compared to King David was shameful.
But here we are, both sides deeply entrenched behind battle lines, viewing the other side, not simply as a fellow American who has a different point of view, but someone evil who must be destroyed. On the Right, accusations against Kavanaugh are mostly dismissed due to the lack of evidence and the increasing levels of unbelievability with the charges. On the Left, if you don’t immediately condemn the man and wholeheartedly believe the woman, you are in favor of rape.
How is this going to go well for us as a nation? We need to come to grips with the fact that what’s playing out in our politics and on our TVs every night is merely a reflection of us. We ended up with Donald Trump due to a combination of people who disliked Hillary more than they disliked Trump and also Americans who feel a sense of injustice in America and want someone who will “punch back.” So now, we have a president who is derogatory, impetuous, and who is often ruled by emotion. Glad we don’t see any of that play out on our own social media. . . .
Am I saying that we are mirror images of each and every politician? Of course not. I am suggesting that we take a good, hard look at our own hearts and work on improving that more than hating and condemning those who don’t see things the same way you do. And don’t pull the “but he’s doing it, too,” excuse. Just because you think the “other side” will keep being jerks doesn’t give you an excuse to not be better. It didn’t work when you were a kid, and it doesn’t work now.
If we work on taking the plank out of our own eye, we will get better politicians and a healthier culture as a natural byproduct of improving ourselves. If we refuse, however, and insist on being guided by rage, we should only expect our politics and our culture to devolve into a place driven by hate and suspicion and revenge.
Is that the kind of place you want to leave to your children? No? Let’s get to work.