The United States is no stranger to mass shootings. Over recent years we’ve become so desensitized to them, and most do not appear on the national news. But the shooting on June 14, 2017, incidentally one of four situations involving armed persons and ironically occuring on Mr. Trump’s birthday, marked the first political mass shooting targeting a lawmaker. Republican whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana was shot in the hip shortly after 7:00am Wednesday morning in Alexandria, Virginia at practice for the congressional baseball game. The shooter, James Hodgkinson from Illinois was a supporter of Bernie Sanders and very angry about the current political situation. So much, he went to the baseball field specifically to target GOP politicians.
Since then, members of Congress from both parties have come forward with death threats they’ve received and their desire for more security. What ever one’s politics, in this heightened political climate, with visibly angry town halls, it’s understandable for lawmakers to want more security.
However what’s alarming is the politicalization of Scalise’s shooting via demonization of the left. Liberals are not perfect but neither are conservatives. Obama had more threats to his life while president than probably any other previous president, the most vitriolic not because of his policies but because of his brown skin. Right-wing media is laden with threats against African-Americans, Latinos, Asians, Muslims, immigrants and Jews yet it’s the Left that’s violent? James Hodgkinson was a Bernie supporter but Bernie Sanders has never even come close to supporting violence. Donald Trump openly incited violence at his campaign rallies and made divisive comments against Americans of color, Muslims, women, immigrants and the LGBTQ community yet Liberals are to blame for Scalise’s shooting?
Who or what inspired James Hodgkinson to shoot Rep. Scalise isn’t even the issue. He is responsible for his actions. But what’s disturbing is the dehumanization of non-conservatives and Donald Trump opponents by the right, and vice versa. Partisanship and political division is so intense that different political beliefs is intolerable by either side. Liberals and conservatives see the other as dragging the country down or destroying the country, rather than fellow Americans. It becomes even scarier when you consider the abundance of guns in this country.
Mr. Trump and members of Congress tried to put on a show of unity and bring the country together but Mr. Trump is no consoler-in-chief as his predecessor was and Congress and the people are too divided and the distance between politicians and the people is too great. Rep. Scalise is a friend of his and Trump rewards loyalty. If a Democratic congressman was shot it’s doubtful his response would’ve been the same.
We are entering a new state of political tension. Rep. Scalise’s shooting will not be the last of its kind. We are fast approaching the place of no return.