As the weather grows colder here at UConn Hartford, the temperature in the political arena continues to rise. With flames licking the ceiling, American political discourse is burning to the ground. Since the election of President Trump, members of the Democratic Party have responded to Trump’s splintering rhetoric with vitriol and revulsion of their own. Our two leading cults of political thought have never been more partisan. With the divider between us crumbling and our parties tumbling toward civil war, American politics can best be described as a ticking time bomb.
Americans are under the impression that the polarization of politics began with Donald Trump, but, for decades, politicians have inked their poisonous stench into the fabric of public discourse, pitting the people against one another. Most recently, Americans were divided over Trump’s garbage response to the Charlottesville riots, divided sufficiently to forget that President Obama condemned the police force as racist, shortly before five officers were murdered by a vengeful sniper targeting white cops.
We have a bad habit of attributing blame for the actions of insane people to sane people. When a demented gunman targeted white officers in response to perceived racism within the police force, Americans on the right blamed Obama’s rhetoric. It’s not President Obama’s fault.
When President Trump brutally ridiculed political opponents for months and then a lunatic mailed bombs to their addresses, those on the left blamed Trump’s rhetoric. It’s not President Trump’s fault.
Who do you think didn’t get the memo?
Rep. Maxine Waters blamed Trump’s rhetoric for the bomber’s actions:
“I think the president of the United States should take responsibility for the kind of violence that we’re seeing…[Trump] has been dog whistling to his constituency … and I think that they’re acting out, but they believe the president wants them to do and the way that he wants them to act.”
The president never once told supporters to mail bombs to his political opponents. When Rep. Waters tells her supporters to harass Trump staffers, and they do, who takes responsibility then?
Rhetoric that does not call for violence is not responsible for violence. At the very least, rhetoric is culpable for violence up to and concluding with action in accordance with the language utilized. For example, Trump branding Robert De Niro a “low IQ individual” isn’t exactly on par with bombing the actor. But, Rep. Waters encouraging harassment of Trump staffers is quite in accordance with Trump staffers being assaulted and protested at restaurants and their homes.
If Trump isn’t to blame for our most recent hostilities, then who is?
Raising the temperature are those turning up the thermostat. When the water reaches a boil, everyone wants to jump out, but it’s time to face the heat.
During cellular respiration, carbohydrates and oxygen are transformed into carbon dioxide and water for our survival. Throughout this process, toxic oxygen radicals are produced which must be decomposed with haste before they damage cells. With each breath, you create free radicals that damage your genetic composition. Your breathing responds most radically to extreme increases and decreases in temperature. When the heat is turned up, you breathe more frequently, thus producing more free radicals which do damage to the living organism.
America is the living organism. Political discourse is the process of respiration, fueled by us, the constituents of elected officials. According to conservative author Ben Shapiro:
“There are a group of people who have been fully convinced that the other side, and I don’t just mean the other side’s ideas, I mean people who are on the other side, are actively members of evil…That sort of rhetoric is responsible for heating up temperature, [but] it’s not responsible for individual acts of violence…the more you increase the temperature, the more you can expect that there are going to be people who are going to go to the ultimate extreme of attempting to engage in violence.”
The hotter the political arena, the more free radicals will be produced through an increase in respiration. These toxic oxygen radicals mail bombs, harass elected officials, shoot up public buildings and divide the American people through acts of evil.
Lunatics are responsible for their own actions, but it is we, the people, who have fostered an environment that permits malevolence. It’s time to tone down the rhetoric before the country implodes. Realize that we disagree with ideas, not people. Those on the other side are not evil for disagreeing with you.
Politics are pretty hot these days. At this point, I just want to watch football.
Kevin Catapano is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.