I believe we can categorize all political discourse into one of four levels:
1. “I disagree but we are still friends”
2. “You’re a bad person”
3. “You’re evil”
4. “I want you dead”
We don’t see a lot of level one in Washington anymore. Ted Kennedy had friends on both sides of the aisle. President Reagan and Tip O’Neill would get together for a drink. If someone did that today, they would be attacked as a sellout.
Levels two and three are popular these days. That was almost the entire focus of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. To paraphrase Martin Luther King, we need to judge people on the content of their character not the color of their politics. The vast majority of people in public life are good people doing what they believe is in the best interests of the country.
We are now starting to see the fourth level. Last year Steve Scalice was shot and other Republicans had their lives threatened in a politically motivated shooting. I can’t recall such a shooting since attempts were made to assassinate President Ford.
Talking about killing President Trump is considered good clean fun whether it’s Madonna speaking about blowing up the White House or Kathy Griffin’s bloody mask. Death threats on members of Congress have risen sharply. They are predominately from the left.
Political violence is on the rise. Maxine Waters told people to harass members of the Trump administration. She knew, or should have known, that such confrontations could easily turn violent.
We need to get things under control. Every public official should denounce violence, no matter the source. Anyone engaging in violence or making a death treat should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.