On June 14, 2017, 66-year-old James Hodgkinson shot up a baseball diamond where a Republican Congressional baseball team was practicing in advance of their annual game against the Democrats. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was critically injured and three others were shot by the assailant. Hodgkinson himself was shot and killed by the security detail that accompanied Scalise, a member of leadership in the House.
I had something to say at the time, but elected to wait, listen, and watch the fallout from the event. As America learned more about the shooter and Monday morning quarterbacks told us the reasoning behind his actions. We were told of his support for Bernie Sanders and his progressive leanings. I heard tales of the rise of left wing radical groups and the threat they present to conservatives Americans. I heard about how Democrats needed to tone down their anti-Trump rhetoric and hatred of Republicans. It seems everyone with something to say about the shooting had an agenda. I waited still.
We learned about James Hodgkinson’s history of domestic violence. In 2006 , he was arrested for domestic battery and discharge of a firearm. He punched his daughter’s friend, shot at another person present. He beat his daughter and threw her around a room. When she tried to flee in her car he choked her and tried to cut her out of her seatbelt. In what should be a story of it’s own, the charges were later dismissed.
It seems that 54% of mass shootings between 2009 and 2016 involved domestic violence. After the shooting at the baseball park, there was a feeble attempt to once again raise the subject of sensible gun control. Like always it was a non-starter as the hold the NRA has on Congress is too strong. Even when they themselves start getting shot. But that isn’t what I wanted to write about.
We heard a lot about unity. How Republicans and Democrats need to come together, not letting partisanship come between us. How Americans should unite! The charity game the Republicans were practicing for was played the evening after the shooting. Over 25,000 people attended and money was raised for good causes. The Democrats won and handed the trophy to the Republicans, to be placed in the office of Steve Scalise upon his return. Predominantly old, white men hugged each other and proclaimed “unity” had been accomplished while their respective agenda’s went unchanged promising nothing of the sort.
Republican Senators went right back to trying to pass a Health Care Bill without debate, without hearings. 13 predominantly old white men are meeting in secret to come up with a plan that they will try to move through the Senate before anyone has a chance to understand it. When I said “predominantly old white men,” they were all white with no minority representation. They were all men. They just weren’t all old. So much for unity. I don’t want to write about that either.
What I did want to touch on was the narrative about the rising violence on the left. The alleged clear and present danger to conservatives who dare to stand up for American values. These would be the same conservatives who ignore the rise in right wing hate groups. Anti-Muslim hate groups. The reemergence of the Klan and White Nationalism. It’s presence in the White House (Bannon), the sons of the President who never met a Neo-Nazi or White Nationalist meme they didn’t like or in their case retweet. They justify the racist past and present of the President himself.
There is a prominent news network (Fox) that has done much to stoke the fears and hatred of White Americans. They gave you the Tea Party and helped give us Trump. The truth was often obscured by a narrative that others are taking what is rightfully theirs. Not to give Fox sole credit, Breitbart, Infowars, even the National Review and The Wall Street Journal deserve their due. All of them helped to generate specifically White activism in behalf of White causes. They made heroes of extremist groups in standoffs against the government. They encouraged militias. They encouraged and motivated them by making them mad. And now Republicans, I’m arriving the point I did want to get to. They’re mad at you!
In this instance it was a progressive fanatic who shouldn’t have been able to get a gun in the first place who was the shooter. He made sure it was Republicans he was shooting before opening fire. He carried a list with the names of several Republicans and their office information which some are calling a “hit list.” Congress has begun discussing how to fund additional security for it’s members. Almost all members including Democrats have at one time or another received threats. But back to the angry white people.
Republican Congressional Representatives and Senators have greatly reduced and in some cases halted altogether holding town halls. Their prime mechanism for communicating with the people. On the heels of their attempts to pass a Health Care Bill that will take Health Care away from 23 million Americans including many of their own supporters. They have literally became afraid of their own constituents. They have much more to fear than an inconsequential number of left wing extremists. Trump and by their silence Republicans in Congress, promised the return of coal mines that were never lost due to environmental regulations but by a technology that has made those jobs obsolete. They were promised “good manufacturing jobs, deportation of undocumented immigrants, Hillary would be “locked up” and they would be “great again.” They gave you Trump and those promises are now due.
Republicans made those people mad, they ensured they were armed and had the God-given right to own guns bigger than they could carry. You made promises you had no chance of keeping, the lone exception where you would give huge tax cuts to the rich while the rest of us suffered more. Steve Scalise’s last town hall was held by telephone where he only accepted screened calls from supporters.
For all of the discord and rancor between Democrats and Republicans in Congress. Unity isn’t really that hard to accomplish on many levels because most members have far more in common than what separates them. Your Congress consists mainly of rich white people or those dependent on the support of the same who get together and decide the fate of the rest of us. They are beholden to special interests and far more likely to favor corporate interests than those of their constituents. The unity that needs to be promoted is not among members of Congress but among the American people who would be better served by the type of Healthcare that focuses on service and not profits. The people would benefit by a reasonable immigration policy and a foreign policy that isn’t us against the world. The people would benefit from efforts to protect the ecology rather than elected officials ignoring it in favor of corporate greed and their own prospects for re-election.
I would say to Republicans and only to a slightly lesser degree Democrats in the Congress. Serve the people. The disapproval levels for the President has reached 64%, even more people disapprove of Congress. Start looking out for more than the rich because your biggest concern ought to be that your own are turning on you. Don’t believe it? Watch a town hall!