There is a pile-on underway of President Donald Trump, because commentators have said that the statement believed to have been written by the alleged El Paso shooter mirrors language the President has used regarding illegal immigration. Democrats in Congress and the party’s presidential candidates are in full-blown attack mode against the President, trying to drive a narrative that he is responsible for mass shootings in America.
Police in Dayton say race doesn’t appear to be a motive in the shooting that left nine people dead, although if the social media account is indeed his, the personal politics of this shooter are pretty clear. What’s more, the poster to this account clearly has no trouble making a hostile statement about former Vice President Biden and other older politicians. The shooter appears not to be a white nationalist, but rather a full blown, pro-Antifa socialist. Was his attack influenced by these political views? We don’t know that yet.
But here’s the thing — it doesn’t matter, because it is no fairer to blame Elizabeth Warren or the socialist wing of the Democratic Party for a supporter’s actions than it is to label President Trump as responsible for someone pulling a trigger in El Paso.
The President has made mistakes on race issues, most notably in his statements after the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left one dead and nine injured. He has certainly used incendiary rhetoric to describe what he sees as an illegal immigration crisis in America.
And now he has a responsibility, as our President and the person who should comfort the nation in times of crisis, to continue making statements like the one he issued from the White House on Monday morning. “In one voice our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy,” he said. “These sinister ideologies must be defeated.” He should not deviate from that sentiment, nor should he allow himself to be baited into an unhelpful tit-for-tat with any political opponent.
But the rush to rage against Trump — and the predictive punditry that he will inevitably fail to unite the country — seems counterproductive to people who want a meaningful policy outcome.
Again, it isn’t Sen. Sanders’ fault. But you can’t have it both ways. You either decry violence and violent rhetoric, or you don’t. Liberals ought to take the same responsibility for their own, just as they demand the same from Trump.
I don’t blame Democratic politicians for the actions of their supporters in McConnell’s yard; I am reasonably sure most of them would not condone it, although several partisan commentators and the Twitter platform itself are fanning the flames by glorifying the #massacreMitch hashtag. The tag is ostensibly a criticism of McConnell’s position on guns, but there’s no question in my mind that some people mean it as a threat against McConnell.
I blame any politician who fails to demand his or her supporters stand down from accusations that portray political opponents’ rhetoric as an invitation to violence.
Yes, President Trump needs to stay on message, and not have any erratic moments the way he did after Charlottesville. And liberal politicians must demand their activists cease the violent rhetoric aimed at McConnell and others, and not add to it themselves the way Castro has.
Only then can the nation heal. Only then can our leaders have the space they need to find a solution to the mass shooting crisis. The sweet spot of solution exists — we can find it as long as the politicians let us.