Both parties aren’t party to violence

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Both parties aren't party to violence

Both sides do it, say television’s talk­ing heads.

In this era of radioac­tive polar­iza­tion, it’s become a mantra among pun­dits that Repub­li­cans and Democ­rats are equally respon­si­ble for the atmos­phere of polit­i­cal vio­lence that hov­ers over America.

Never has a sausage fac­tory pro­duced a finer grade of baloney.

While many vio­lent inci­dents have bro­ken out since Don­ald J. Trump was elected in Novem­ber, both par­ties aren’t insti­ga­tors. Con­ser­v­a­tives didn’t smash the win­dows, torch the police cars, ter­ror­ize cam­pus speaker or beat demon­stra­tors. Democ­rats — espe­cially those from Bernie Sanders’ social­ist branch of the party — can lay claim to those feats.

Con­ser­v­a­tives were berated for highly pub­li­cized hate crimes against Mus­lims and other “pro­tected classes” after the elec­tion, but most of the inci­dents turned out to be hoaxes. Nat­u­rally, reports that the hate crimes were fake got only a frac­tion of the atten­tion the orig­i­nal accounts received.

For­tu­nately, con­ser­v­a­tive web­sites and talk radio hosts aren’t afraid to spread the truth about the left­ists’ role in the polit­i­cal vio­lence. Unfor­tu­nately, most Amer­i­cans still get their news from the main­stream media, which point fin­gers at both sides when vio­lence occurs (if they men­tion it at all). Even some Fox News com­men­ta­tors evoke the false equivalency.

Of course, this is not to say all Repub­li­cans and con­ser­v­a­tives are angels. The party has its share of thieves, thugs, phi­lan­der­ers and con artists — but it gen­er­ally pun­ishes them when their crimes become known. Democ­rats, how­ever, usu­ally unite to pro­tect offend­ers unless their sins are so awful the pub­lic can’t stom­ach them, as in Anthony Weiner’s case.

In a fas­ci­nat­ing inter­view pub­lished in the July 1 edi­tion of the Wall Street Jour­nal, his­to­rian Allen Guelzo told James Taranto — the for­mer force behind the WSJ’s Best of the Web online fea­ture — the two par­ties have basic prin­ci­ples that they have mostly fol­lowed since the 1850s. (www​.wsj​.com/​a​r​t​i​c​l​e​s​/​d​i​v​i​d​e​d​-​a​m​e​r​i​c​a​-​s​t​a​n​d​s​t​h​e​n​-​a​n​d​-​n​o​w​-​1498851654)

Guelzo, direc­tor of the Civil War Era Stud­ies pro­gram at Get­tys­burg Col­lege, said one long­stand­ing dif­fer­ence between the par­ties is “Democ­rats love pas­sion, Repub­li­cans love rea­son.” In other words, one party appeals to vot­ers’ hearts, the other to their heads.

Another dis­tinc­tion he notes is the Democ­rats’ “polit­i­cal cen­ter” is “local,” while the Repub­li­cans’ is “national.”

Taranto writes, “(Guelzo’s) argu­ment is that Repub­li­cans think of them­selves as Amer­i­cans first, whereas today Demo­c­ra­tic local­ism takes the form of sub­na­tional iden­tity politics.”

Ah, yes, iden­tity pol­i­tics — a hot­point so ablaze in today’s soci­ety that it makes the sun seem frigid. So many peo­ple — women, racial minori­ties, gays, the trans­gen­dered, Mus­lims — simul­ta­ne­ously demand pub­lic acclaim and spe­cial sta­tus as vic­tims of Amer­i­can big­otry. It’s got­ten to the point where mem­bers of some spe­cial groups are get­ting scorched for implied dis­re­spect to other groups.

There are plenty of cases that under­line the dif­fer­ence between how Democ­rats and Repub­li­cans approach wrong­do­ing, but my favorite is the 1983 con­gres­sional page sex scan­dal involv­ing Reps. Dan Crane and Gerry Studds.

Both were middle-​aged men who had sex with 17-​year-​old con­gres­sional pages, and both were cen­sured by the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives for mis­con­duct. Their cases weren’t exactly the same, though: Crane’s affair was with a girl, while Studds’ was with a boy at a time when homo­sex­ual rela­tions were a crime in many jurisdictions.

But what hap­pened later was enlight­en­ing. Crane was defeated in his 1984 GOP pri­mary and left pol­i­tics, while Studds was not only returned to office but also went on to win re-​election to five more terms. There could hardly be a big­ger con­trast between the Repub­li­can and Demo­c­rat voter base.

Sure, lots of peo­ple gripe that there’s no dif­fer­ence between the two par­ties and say Amer­ica is ruled by Repub­l­i­crats or Demo­cans. And they’re par­tially right — com­pro­mise is usu­ally the key for a demo­c­ra­tic repub­lic to func­tion, so they often work against their con­stituents’ wishes.

Still, core dif­fer­ences remain, and they mat­ter deeply. Which is why par­ti­san bat­tles are so bit­ter and why elec­toral out­comes — as Trump is prov­ing — are so important.

***

May you enjoy a safe and happy Fourth of July!

Both sides do it, say television’s talking heads.

In this era of radioactive polarization, it’s become a mantra among pundits that Republicans and Democrats are equally responsible for the atmosphere of political violence that hovers over America.

Never has a sausage factory produced a finer grade of baloney.

While many violent incidents have broken out since Donald J. Trump was elected in November, both parties aren’t instigators. Conservatives didn’t smash the windows, torch the police cars, terrorize campus speaker or beat demonstrators. Democrats — especially those from Bernie Sanders’ socialist branch of the party — can lay claim to those feats.

Conservatives were berated for highly publicized hate crimes against Muslims and other “protected classes” after the election, but most of the incidents turned out to be hoaxes. Naturally, reports that the hate crimes were fake got only a fraction of the attention the original accounts received.

Fortunately, conservative websites and talk radio hosts aren’t afraid to spread the truth about the leftists’ role in the political violence. Unfortunately, most Americans still get their news from the mainstream media, which point fingers at both sides when violence occurs (if they mention it at all). Even some Fox News commentators evoke the false equivalency.

Of course, this is not to say all Republicans and conservatives are angels. The party has its share of thieves, thugs, philanderers and con artists — but it generally punishes them when their crimes become known. Democrats, however, usually unite to protect offenders unless their sins are so awful the public can’t stomach them, as in Anthony Weiner’s case.

In a fascinating interview published in the July 1 edition of the Wall Street Journal, historian Allen Guelzo told James Taranto — the former force behind the WSJ’s Best of the Web online feature — the two parties have basic principles that they have mostly followed since the 1850s. (www.wsj.com/articles/divided-america-standsthen-and-now-1498851654)

Guelzo, director of the Civil War Era Studies program at Gettysburg College, said one longstanding difference between the parties is “Democrats love passion, Republicans love reason.” In other words, one party appeals to voters’ hearts, the other to their heads.

Another distinction he notes is the Democrats’ “political center” is “local,” while the Republicans’ is “national.”

Taranto writes, “(Guelzo’s) argument is that Republicans think of themselves as Americans first, whereas today Democratic localism takes the form of subnational identity politics.”

Ah, yes, identity politics — a hotpoint so ablaze in today’s society that it makes the sun seem frigid. So many people — women, racial minorities, gays, the transgendered, Muslims — simultaneously demand public acclaim and special status as victims of American bigotry. It’s gotten to the point where members of some special groups are getting scorched for implied disrespect to other groups.

There are plenty of cases that underline the difference between how Democrats and Republicans approach wrongdoing, but my favorite is the 1983 congressional page sex scandal involving Reps. Dan Crane and Gerry Studds.

Both were middle-aged men who had sex with 17-year-old congressional pages, and both were censured by the House of Representatives for misconduct. Their cases weren’t exactly the same, though: Crane’s affair was with a girl, while Studds’ was with a boy at a time when homosexual relations were a crime in many jurisdictions.

But what happened later was enlightening. Crane was defeated in his 1984 GOP primary and left politics, while Studds was not only returned to office but also went on to win re-election to five more terms. There could hardly be a bigger contrast between the Republican and Democrat voter base.

Sure, lots of people gripe that there’s no difference between the two parties and say America is ruled by Republicrats or Democans. And they’re partially right — compromise is usually the key for a democratic republic to function, so they often work against their constituents’ wishes.

Still, core differences remain, and they matter deeply. Which is why partisan battles are so bitter and why electoral outcomes — as Trump is proving — are so important.

***

May you enjoy a safe and happy Fourth of July!