After too many months, Washington, D.C., politicians finally took bipartisan action and passed important legislation. The result has been an outpouring of vile language, explicit threats and unwarranted retribution.
In August, 19 Republicans joined 50 Democrats in the Senate to pass the trillion-dollar infrastructure bill. On Nov. 5, 13 Republicans joined 215 Democrats in the House to approve a bill that will fund new roads, bridges, internet connections and more. The improvements will make life safer and easier for millions of Americans who have to cope with the nation’s crumbling infrastructure every day.
In normal times, infrastructure is welcomed. Construction projects mean jobs. Money flows. Everyone takes credit, regardless of a yea or nay.
These are not normal times. Senators had been taking credit for their work on the bill proposed by President Joe Biden, but the rancid bitterness in the House has produced a far different reaction to bipartisanship.
This is not a “both-sides-are-the-same” situation. The six Democrats who voted against the bill may hear from their voters in 2022. The 13 Republicans who voted “yes” are hearing threats from both anonymous sources and their own party now.
Republican Rep. Fred Upton, who has represented his Michigan district for 34 years, has received multiple death threats against himself and his family since he voted for the bill. Freshman Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, R-New York, has been called a “traitor,” a crime that carries the death sentence.
The leader of the Republican Party in the House joined the mob.
Kevin McCarthy, R-California, didn’t bother to propose alternatives to the infrastructure bill. He claimed instead that supporting the Democrats’ bill somehow threatens America’s way of life. He used that rationale to punish bipartisan Republican votes by stripping committee assignments from the “disloyal” 13.
McCarthy has also declined to distance himself or his party from reprehensible tweets posted by Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Arizona.
A video Gosar tweeted used anime representations to “kill” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, and “attack” Biden.
There is no excuse for depictions of violence against any democratically elected political opponent, especially in today’s charged environment. Civility, respect, and personal restraint must be the rule, not the exceptions, for public officeholders.
Voting for any proposal, especially something as straightforward as infrastructure, should never result in violent language or the toleration of such language.
Democracy cannot survive if candidates, elected officials and their political parties are allowed to use win-by-any-means intimidation tactics. Those who refuse to conduct themselves with at least a modicum of decency in their attempts to govern should be rejected at the ballot box.
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