Whoever posted these bombs, he or she clearly doesn’t care for Democrats and progressives; suspicious devices were sent to the Clintons, Barack Obama, Trump critic John Brennan, billionaire George Soros, Maxine Waters, Eric Holder, the Democratic National Committee, and CNN’s New York studios.
Fortunately, nobody has been killed or hurt. Unfortunately, the bombs have already told us something about how ugly American politics has become. Commentators have been quick to say that Donald Trump deserves blame for his purposely divisive rhetoric. Fair-minded people would say they have a point: in the last few days, Trump has applauded the body slamming of reporters, railed against Middle Easterners, and accused the Democrats of colluding with illegal immigration. But Trump is a symptom, not a cause.
The truth is that US politics has been toxic for a long time now. It began with Newt Gingrich and his Republican majority conspiring to overthrow Bill Clinton in a constitutional coup, a move which ended in electoral disaster for the GOP. It continued through the Democratic-led Congress, which pilloried George W. Bush for his incompetence and lack of intelligence. And it accelerated under eight years of Obama, when the Tea Party wave of 2010-2011 usurped the moderate Republican brand and helped make the GOP what it is: a loud and at times obnoxious ‘Party of No,’ where obstruction of Obama’s priorities was the key objective.
Americans outside Washington turn on their televisions every night and see their countrymen losing their minds. The sane switch off, the mad get madder. Lawmakers are now receiving death threats, heckles on the street, and forceful challenges at restaurants. Republicans view Democrats as radical leftists intent on remaking America into a land of crime and illegality. Democrats, in turn, view Republicans as fascist enablers seeking to turn back the clock to the 1950s.
Politics need not be a black-and-white, us vs. them war. If our political leaders — and our people — don’t wise up, we could be fast approaching a dangerous era in our history.