Looking at the state of our political discourse, it is hard to pin down where exactly the rancorous division started. Words are violence, but rioting, looting, and arson are not. Hectoring, menacing, and crowding supporters of President Trump is shrugged off, but insults to the media are a threat to democracy. If that sounds insane, it’s because it is.
Shortly after 2005, criticism of George W. Bush and his administration had reached a fever pitch. “Bush lied, and people died,” became a mantra on the left. It discounted the bipartisan support for the Iraq War and blamed the president personally for the failure to find large stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. Judith Miller outlined the intelligence failures that were the root of the problem in her book The Story, but the narrative was and is something else altogether.
It would be difficult to convince me the 2008 election was not a turning point in our political discourse. During the 2008 election, candidate Barack Obama said the following during a Nevada campaign stop:
In Elko, Obama tried to anticipate his critics and called on the crowd of about 1,500 to sharpen their elbows, too.
“I need you to go out and talk to your friends and talk to your neighbors. I want you to talk to them whether they are independent or whether they are Republican. I want you to argue with them and get in their face,” he said.
Get in their face. This comment came after Obama referred to his grandmother as a “typical white person” who had fears about black men. Then he characterized his political opponents as “bitter clingers.” In 2009, the Department of Homeland Security put out a baseless memo regarding threats from “right-wing extremists.” To be characterized as such, you simply needed to be organizing against abortion or immigration, or in support of federalism.
In 2010 Obama refined this characterization by calling Tea Party activists “the teabag anti-government people.” His attorney general, Eric Holder, called America a “nation of cowards” on race discussions. By 2012, Obama said he would have been seen as a moderate Republican in the 1980s after winning reelection. He said this in order to contrast himself with the Republican House, led by notorious squish John Boehner. The goal was to cast the modern Republican Party as far-right.
With their shock and anger, the divisive rhetoric escalated, even following a tragedy. A gunman opened fire on a congressional Republican baseball practice. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was seriously injured and in critical condition. MSDNC host Joy-Ann Reid called Scalise an “extremist” while Scalise was still in critical condition, as if to excuse the violence.
After Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was denied service at a Washington, D.C., restaurant, Representative Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) encouraged her supporters to harass administration officials:
“Let’s make sure we show up wherever we have to show up. And if you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere. We’ve got to get the children connected to their parents.”
After taking about burning down the GOP, no-longer-conservative Jennifer Rubin said President Trump’s supporters must be leveled:
“We have to level them because if there are survivors — if there are people who weather this storm, they will do it again — will take this as confirmation that, ‘Hey, it just pays to ride the wave — look at me, I’ve made it through.’ “
Check Out This NEW Video: How Did You Think It Would End:
How did you think it would end? pic.twitter.com/AcQVu1NdsF— Caldron Pool (@CaldronPool) August 31, 2020