(This article first appeared in the Daily Caller.)
In Washington, D.C., where character assassination is a popular blood sport, actual assassination may become part of the New Normal in American politics.
Louisiana congressman Steve Scalise (R) and several more have become the latest casualties as the war against conservatives escalates in the ugliest way possible. Rep. Scalise and other Republican politicians, including Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, were practicing in Alexandria, Virginia, for the annual House-Senate baseball game when a lone gunman opened fire. Scalise was hit in the hip, landing him in the operating room in critical condition.
You might think this was a random occurrence in the New Normal, where active shooters events are part and parcel of daily life, but Rep. Ron DeSantis (R) of Florida stated on Fox News that a man asked him if Republicans or Democrats were on the field just shortly before the shooting. Sen. Paul told MSNBC that “it would have been a massacre” if capitol police were not on the scene. In all, the gunman fired more than 50 rounds before being neutralized by law enforcement.
If this incident is related to the political affiliation of those on the baseball field, it marks a new phase in the recent war that has targeted prominent conservatives. If anyone previously had doubts about the effects of the hate campaign against the current administration and its party, now there are none.
Those in the opposition party and in the press don’t seem to understand that the result of fanning the flames with hateful rhetoric leads to more than the political goal of discrediting Donald Trump. It leads to violence, injuries, and, if this trend continues, worse.
Why should we consider the Alexandria shooting to be anything more than a random, freak event? “Successful” attacks that create real casualties establish a blueprint for more to come, as we’ve seen with recent vehicular and other terror events (yes, this is terror). Deranged individuals who believe that such attacks serve a political purpose will be encouraged to copy the crime.
The Left can take credit for the incident in Alexandria. Un-civil servants continue to tear apart the nation for their own political benefit. In Congress, on college campuses, and in mainstream and social media, civility and tolerance are relics from a different age. Certainty by progressives (despite a paucity of evidence) that conservatives are committing crimes ranging from racism to treason only escalates the situation. In Alexandria, the seeds of hate have borne the only possible fruit.
In this toxic climate, the Left wins by forfeit. Conservatives aren’t showing up in the same numbers and with the same rhetorical ferocity to counter Democrat and media terror tactics. As such, the trending narrative is that every Republican government official is a treasonous criminal.
By flooding the airwaves with this type of propaganda, Democrats and the press hope to energize their base. Well, that has worked: In fact, liberals have been whipped up into a frenzy. Leftists feel a moral duty to tweet about how much they hate those on the other side of issues. Protestors experience a sense of accomplishment when they assault or pepper-spray innocents. And now, in one case, a partisan felt that he could perform a public service by shooting Republican politicians practicing for a charity baseball game. In some places, you can bet that water cooler talk echoes these sentiments.
For the nation, this animus couldn’t be more destructive. For the Democrats, it seems to be a pyrrhic victory. Politicians, including conservative ones, should expect to be under scrutiny, but the decibel level of attacks has been louder than thunder. If civil discourse has gone the way of the dinosaur, how will the nation move forward under either Democrat or Republican leadership?
If violence is now acceptable as a way of furthering a political agenda in the United States, its citizens can never come together as one people to solve the nation’s problems. Today, a united country seems more and more to be a quaint notion from some antebellum past than an actual possibility. If destroying the American identity is the goal of Democrat vitriol, well, mission accomplished.
Good people of all political stripes can and should, however, unite against the heinous act in Alexandria. They should be shocked. They should be outraged. They should be stunned into a moment of reflection, where both Right and Left realize that they must start to communicate with, not yell at, each other again. Whether the current president is popular or not, the sane among us must agree to set aside our differences and work together. If we don’t, the United States cannot recover, and all we have to look forward to is a downward spiral into the abyss.