Supreme Court Justice—and liberal icon—Ruth Bader Ginsburg died this past week at the age of 87.
Many of her most ardent supporters are understandably infuriated at her decision to not retire while President Obama was in a position to name her replacement, but she clearly did not want to surrender a job that she loved, and she shared the Washington insider belief that Donald Trump had no chance whatsoever of defeating Hillary Clinton for the Presidency.
The receding tide of triumphant liberalism, which has led many Democrats to shed traditional norms of governance in favor of a self-styled—and ever more bitter—resistance to Donald Trump’s policies and personality, has translated into a feverish hunt for some way to remove him from office. The protracted—and ultimately fruitless— “Russia-gate” investigation wasted two long and arduous years. This year’s impeachment of President Trump, which never had any chance of succeeding but still gave Democrat’s restive base of supporters some grim satisfaction, effectively destroyed any remaining illusion of bipartisanship in today’s America.
The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and its resulting citizen lockdowns and commercial and public shutdowns—resulting in an unprecedented wipeout of jobs and businesses across America—has completely remade the political and electoral landscape in America. The burning and looting of America’s cities that began with the death of George Floyd during an arrest in Minneapolis led to even more economic damage and—more importantly—introduced a level of civil, racial, and political unrest not seen since the summer of 1968 after the assassination of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.
The difference between that long, hot summer 52 years ago and what we have seen today is both obvious and startling: Today the cheerleaders for the revolution occupy positions of power and influence in the media and government. We do not have a Senator Robert F. Kennedy bravely speaking out for peace and compassion in Indianapolis after the killing Dr. King; we instead have members of Congress and the Senate, Governors, Mayors, City Council members, and leading cable news luminaries both justifying criminality and encouraging attacks on police officers and private citizens.
Today the revolutionaries are tearing down the institutions of democratic governance and public safety from the inside, and they seem not the least concerned with the consequences of their inflammatory rhetoric. Whether their hatred for President Trump and his political beliefs has completely warped their judgement or they see a path to power through the chaos they are fomenting, the outcome has been a terrifying breakdown in civil order and public trust that is stupefying in its scope and mysterious regarding its ultimate intent.
Every American has a right—and responsibility—to express their views. However, there is a special obligation that comes with the privileges and power attached to elective office or media visibility.
When those in positions of authority or influence engage in rhetoric that turns differences of opinion into deeply personal attacks that presuppose those who think differently are inherently evil, they are granting permission for the most extreme and excitable to move from dialogue to destruction. Characterizing your ideological opponents as Nazis, fascists, child abusers, or mass murderers (this is just the insults for today, by the way) is an open invitation to violent action because people who are this horrible must be driven from our sight by any means necessary.
There is no middle ground when you believe you are engaged in an epic battle between good and evil, and we all pay a heavy price when ears close and fists clench.
Now we have the spectacle of supposed leaders summoning their followers to the ramparts over a nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court—admittedly a very important matter—because they fear they do not have the votes among our elected Senators to stop our elected President from following the processes enshrined in our Constitution. Although one might not like seeing the ideological pendulum of the nation’s highest court swinging in a manner that does not conform with your beliefs, to insist that violence in opposition to a legal method of replacing a judge is reasonable and necessary is craziness that only further harms and divides our nation.
Every American—whatever their position regarding current events or where they sit on the ideological spectrum—must take a deep breath and calm down. This seems little enough to ask for the sake of our nation.
If not, we face the grim prospect of delegitimizing our processes of government through our own overblown and ill-considered insults and actions.