OK, I admit it. I’ve become snarky and defensive and one of those people who are killing Facebook. The running political battle on social media, the charges of racism and xenophobia flying around, the daily predictions of doom from the left, mass protesting and now even violence from mobs in the street have put me in a particularly bad mood. I have responded more aggressively than is my norm to a whole host of charges made on-line, and against a set of people who I honestly like, and believe me, it is no fun. Worse than that, this so-called “debate” is distracting and unproductive. Instead of fighting over our relative morally superiority, it would be so much better if politics could be about actual policy.
Unfortunately crazy assertions of doom and gloom over every little slight, imagined and not, and every policy proposed by the Administration, have ramped up the pressure so as to make me feel almost personally responsible for defending the President, and Republicans in general, against over-the-top and extremely insulting charges. The irony of that is rich, as I was not originally a supporter of Mr. Trump, and critical of him during the pre-primary period (I supported Carly Fiorina). The more the left attacked him, and by extension all Republicans and Conservatives, the more supportive I became (hey, I’m human). Post-primary I joined the #NeverHillary camp, but by September I was openly working for Trump’s election. On Inauguration Day I felt great, vindicated in fact, and optimistic that real and positive change might be coming to our nation.
All of that elation ended with the #Resist movement , #NotMyPresident, and the avalanche of personal, yes personal, vilification being thrust into the conversation by those outraged at Mr. Trump’s ascension to the Presidency. I thought I would be able to go back to writing about policy after the election, but instead have found myself defending my political movement against the charge that the end days were here, that the Republic is doomed, that people are going to “lose their civil rights” and that women and minorities should be terrified, yes terrified, now that we are in charge. Even my church has entered the political fray, and I have been advised by my pastors, in an unprecedented letter (at least in my 20 years there) to the entire congregation, how Christians should think about a certain policy.
Look, Republicans are not going to “take us back to Jim Crow,” put minorities in internment camps, throw the poor into the streets, or send women back to the kitchen, barefoot and bereft of rights. That I have to take the time to write that sentence at all is the essence of the problem.
When I sat down one night to write an article critical of protectionist trade policy, I instead found myself watching an actual riot during which Trump supporters were beaten and campus facilities torched. I wanted to write one morning about my view that the President should not be tweeting about companies by name, but instead watched as a bunch of celebrities and politicians called for (violent?) resistance against those racist, misogynistic, xenophobic deplorables of whom I was clearly (to them) one. I was writing an article about School Choice, but put it down when distracted by an on-line debate about whether you could be Christian and support Trump (many say no). The whole thing is exhausting.
The recent victory by people of my political persuasion is being cast as the end of the Republic and tantamount to a takeover by evil, fascist forces intent on really horrible things. I’ve never been a fan of discussing “feelings” when it comes to politics, but friends who disagree with me politically should imagine for a second how all of that makes me, and millions of other citizens, feel, especially when the charges are demonstrably untrue. The unrelenting drumbeat on line of wildly exaggerated claims adds to my frustration. Worst of all, I know that politicians are spinning people into hysteria as a way of gaining future advantage, and that angers me. Doubt that? Here’s just two local examples:
- Virginia Senator Tim Kaine said, during a televised interview, that Democrats need to “fight in the streets” against the Trump Administration. This was before the Berkeley riots, btw.
- My representative, Congressman Gerry Connolly, tweeted, also just a few days before black-masked rioters tore up the Berkeley campus, “[m]aybe his enablers will rouse themselves when the Brownshirts come for them. I, for one, will resist.”
I guess I’m either an enabler or a Brownshirt in Congressman Connolly’s mind, and I wonder who Kaine thinks he is going to be fighting in the streets. Me? That kind of talk, coming not from the fringe but from mainstream leaders, definitely focuses the mind.
So yes, I admit I will push back pretty hard when people accuse me of being a terrible human being immune to the suffering of others, or uncaring about civil rights, or the poor, or students, or women, or…well, you get the picture. I recoil at the presumption of moral superiority that underlies so much of this “discussion,” even when it is comparatively civil. In the minds of the critics, it appears, they are the wise and caring; morally correct ones, fighting an epic battle against the forces of fascism, evil, racism, whatever. We, the supporters of our current administration, have now gone from “deplorable” to “Brownshirts” and yes, even, “unchristian.” Wow.
Yet there are plenty of real things that we could be talking about. Is the Executive Order on Immigration properly constructed? Will it work? How do we fight ISIS and prevent the next terrorist attack? How do we modernize our education system while ensuring all students have access to it? What trade policies best promote American economic success, while also ensuring fairness? How do we streamline executive agencies, fund the government, and meet our commitments to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid without bankrupting the country? Can we revitalize our military, enforce our laws, and fix out fiscal situation? These are all good, debatable, questions, and I’m not 100% on board with Mr. Trump on all of them. It is hard to have those debates, however, when everyone is lining up in protest marches, and one side is calling the other side Nazis.
It is worth saying that the real threat to our Republic, as it has always been, is violence and anarchy in the streets, not Republican or Conservative policies. #NotMyPresident is some pretty dangerous stuff, and it is just wrong to be attacking our neighbors, friends and fellow citizens with such vitriol. It is also not productive. Reasonable people do not want civil unrest, or God forbid something worse. I consider myself pretty reasonable, so instead of concentrating on other things, I’ve unfortunately become a “keyboard warrior” in the defense of my honor, my political movement and my country.
I’d rather be holding our leaders accountable. Too bad the left won’t let me.