The relative peace and quiet of an Alexandria, Virginia ballfield on a steamy but otherwise unremarkable morning was shattered by gunfire Wednesday when an Illinois man allegedly opened fire on a group of Republican lawmakers practicing for an upcoming charity baseball game.
The shooter, now deceased, has been identified as 66-year-old James T. Hodgkinson, a Bernie Sanders supporter from Belleville, Ill. His social media accounts reveal him as someone intensely political and alarmed at the conservative direction the country has taken since the last election.
If his motivation was political, if he was attempting to strike a blow for his cause by taking out as many Republican lawmakers at one time as possible, it would not be all that surprising. The self-described anti-Trump resistance has already stooped to violence before. Then it was largely attacks against property although a punch or two has been thrown. Hodgkinson appears to have kicked things up a notch.
It is remarkable therefore that those potentially most affected by this, including President Donald Trump, have been counseling reconciliation and unity. They have not, as Democrats and liberals routinely do after acts of violence that appear politically motivated, sought to blame and shame their opposite numbers for creating an environment in which such things are possible.
“We may have our differences,” the president said shortly after the shooting occurred, “but we do well, in times like these, to remember that everyone who serves in our nation’s capital is here because, above all, they love our country.”
“We can all agree that we are blessed to be Americans,” he said, “that our children deserve to grow up in a nation of safety and peace, and that we are strongest when we are unified and when we work together for the common good.”
They’re reassuring words at a confusing, even frightening time. The demands coming from progressives that officials in high office oppose Trump and Trumpism at every turn are a rhetorical knife’s edge, cutting through any comity that remained between the two parties on Capitol Hill. What’s even more discouraging is the way those demands have become the tail wagging the dog.
Sensible folks will now hopefully recognize all this for what it is and start looking for ways to work together for the good of the country. Donald trump may be an electoral majority president but he’s still president – and the people opted for a Republican Congress and have consistently favored the GOP in gubernatorial and state legislative elections as well. Taken together, it’s a pretty clear signal the majority of the country wants to move right.
The Democrats in Congress should part ways with the resistance. The shooting suggests their actions and rhetoric are encouraging people to seek redress of grievance in harmful, dangerous ways. Conservatives should not be cowed by the politically correct into silence rather than call out the opposition for the part they played putting ideas into the shooter’s head. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana and the others who were shot Thursday – indeed all those who came under attack – were the victims of violence intended as retribution for what they believe.
This is terrorism, no more, no less. The label needs to be applied so that we do not grow to accept it.
That Hodgkinson had in mind to do what he did is not the fault of every Democrat on Capitol Hill or Sanders – who has advised he is “sickened” by the while business – or every progressive and liberal in America. There are those out there however who did add fuel to the fire but, as they are also so zealous they are likely without the ability to be shamed, they won’t recognize the fruits of their labors for what they are.