Tri-City Ledger -

By Pete Riehm
Guest Writer 

Take a breath; separate hate from partisanship


November 1, 2018

This midterm election has been particularly punctuated by high drama and marred by egregious allegations. Certainly rough and tumble, there are always dirty tricks in politics. Seeking to gain advantage or win votes is one thing, but demonizing opponents is more destructive to our system of self-government than any damage to the intended target. Partisanship is often fiercely passionate, but it should never be hateful.

Unfortunately, there will always be some hateful partisans and even worse there are some completely crazy people who act out in inexplicable unconscionable ways. The body politic should roundly reject any hateful partisans regardless of party and always recognize the actions of a mad man as just that, actions of a mentally disturbed “individual.” Too often in the frenzy of partisan debate, we lose sight of the common decency we should all share.

This past week the nation was shocked by a brazen and stupid attempt to send mail bombs to several high profile Democrat politicians and supporters. Thankfully the bombs were ineffective; none were successful and no one was hurt. But while the partisan echo chambers were spinning out of control to assign blame, we were stunned with the most horrific mass murder of Jewish worshippers in American history. An absolutely insane gunman massacred 11 people at Pittsburgh Synagogue. Stop the bickering for a moment and realize evil is real.

While we may fervently disagree on policies, no one should think either Democrats or Republicans wish harm on Jews or condone such a despicable act. Supposedly, the Pittsburgh murderer is a “Trump hater,” but the heinous actions of this mad man in no way reflect on all Trump haters. Just like the lunatic bomber is supposedly a Trump supporter, his ludicrous attempt to bomb Democrats is not supported by Trump or his supporters.

Emotions are high and some of you may remain unconvinced, but we have recently had a pattern of seemingly partisan attacks. Just in the past few weeks, the deadly agent ricin was sent to President Trump and two Pentagon officials by a Utah man registered as a Democrat and a former Navy Sailor. It’s absurd to think all Democrats and Navy Sailors are responsible. Just like the wild eyed Bernie Sanders supporter who shot up the Republican baseball practice and nearly killed Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise last year in no way represents Sanders.

These are crazy people! There has been, is, and always will be crazy people. And don’t forget evil is real and always lurking. We must recognize the crazy among us, guard against them, and stop them. But we must also resist letting the crazies hijack the public discourse. If we ascribe the lone lunacy to a group or party, we only give the insane outliers a modicum of credibility and perhaps even encourage other nuts to act out.

Decent and thinking Americans across the political spectrum reject violence, but sometimes we get carried away in our heated rhetoric and forget evil is always ready to exploit the weak minded. Republicans are not racist or sexist and Democrats are not un-American; both have served this nation and many have died for our freedoms. The conservative and liberal visions for America are vastly different, but they both only seek what they genuinely think is best for our country with no ill will toward any group.

There are bad actors everywhere and they won’t go away, but we as a people can rebuff the extremes. We can and will debate ferociously what we think is right, but we invite disaster when we cast our opponents as malicious. We may think our opponents hopelessly wrong, but that does not make them bad people. Self-government only works and sustains when we debate ideas not people.

The midterm election is upon us and we have clear choices. We can choose American sovereignty or globalism. Socialism or capitalism. These are ideas and policies to be assessed, but do not confuse rash rhetoric or the reprehensible actions of mad men to be on the ballot. Do not be distracted by any hate; separate the hate from the partisan platforms. Listen to your heart and vote your values.

“Folly is a joy to him who lacks sense, but a man of understanding walks straight ahead.” Proverbs 15:21


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