It’s been almost a week since we heard calls for unity on Capitol Hill. That’s what tragedy means to politicians. It’s an opportunity for speeches and press releases. This kind of empty talk is probably as much togetherness as our senators and representatives can endure. Holding hands isn’t really their style and negative politics sells. Do we approve?
We all know that “government ethics” is an oxymoron. Abuses like corruption are hard to miss and harder to ignore, but sneaky bad behaviors like propaganda and disinformation do even more damage because they are harder to spot.
It has been a tough few years for public sector ethics. While Congress pontificates about fairness, rights, and justice we still don’t have any noticeable support for term limits. Lawmakers only recently passed limits on insider trading on Capitol Hill. The subtler types of unethical behavior are the ones we don’t see coming, though. They undermine what America stands for and what Americans believe in. Political rhetoric that distorts the truth or silences dissent, catering to special interests, pandering to big money campaign donors, even selecting groups of voters like Hispanics and LGBT Americans for legislative favoritism all point to how ethics in Washington is good for lip service and little else.
The rise of Hillary Clinton to leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination speaks volumes about America’s ability to look the other way, as does Barack Obama’s casual attitude towards the powers permitted his office. As the political stakes and pressure to appease fringe groups grow, ethics will increasingly become something to disregard for the sake of a cause, not something we use to guide our actions.
Did Democrats make hate speech attractive? Our free society allows it within pretty broad limits, in part because hate speech means different things to different people. We learned from Kathy Griffin that at least one kind of expression is intolerable, in large part because it makes vehement anti-Trumpers look appallingly bad. That’s a good example because it set the stage for how we will react to yesterday’s shootings in Virginia.
Two recent events raise questions about what an attack on Americans means. How should we respond when foreigners accost us on our own soil? The answer is that it depends on who the foreigners are and how much political value they have.
What we learned is that foreigners from south of the border can do pretty much what they want.
After the media eagerly spread the news of a scuffle involving Montana Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced that it was Donald Trump’s fault:
And to see this person who wants to be the one Representative in the House of Representatives from Montana, sort of a wannabe Trump, you know, use language like that, treat people harshly like that that’s his model.
In his Saturday address President Trump talked about Senate action on his first Supreme Court nominee that will “protect the rule of law and democratic way of life that is absolutely a birthright of all Americans.”1 That democratic way of life may be our right, but how often does it work for us when something needs to get done?
Income tax is one of those painful things that should happen to other people. There will always be reasons we should pay less and others should pay more. As taxpayers we don’t have much say one way or the other. Washington will spend our money as it sees fit, though despite what we like to think much of that spending is mandatory, not discretionary.
Were you surprised that Jeff Sessions didn’t show up for his confirmation hearings in a white robe and pointy hat? That’s what we were told to expect, but Sessions didn’t spew any racist invective. He didn’t prove to be the monster portrayed by the joint media-Democratic Party smear campaign based in large part on a contentious, thirty-year-old nomination for a judgeship.
After the election the media gleefully brought us stories of people who were fearful of what a President Trump might do. Many were afraid of being deported. Others lived in fear of hate crimes. They recited what they had been told to believe. Their words only emphasized America’s need for fear, respect, and trust. Threats of a Trump overreach show just how skewed the country’s values became under a sorry combination of Barack Obama and too much liberal lunacy.