Trump Has Won The War Against Sympathy

Trump's latest Tweets signify a departure from even superficial decorum and sympathy.

Donald Trump stooped to a new low yesterday, tweeting classless comments towards MSNBC’s hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. In response to negative coverage of Trump by the two “Morning Joe” hosts, he tweeted that Mika has a “low IQ” and that Joe is “psycho.”

Case study in projection aside, Trump continued by implying that despite the bad treatment the “Morning Joe” co-hosts were giving him, Joe and Mika tried to get their way into spending time with Donald Trump at his resort during New Years ― randomly stating that Mika “was bleeding badly from a face-lift.”

Besides expected outrage from the left, the right has come out against these tweets with more widespread condemnation than usual, with several prominent GOP lawmakers denouncing the comments. Conniption fits from the president, unfortunately, are not unusual events. Donald Trump’s antics have been daily news since he announced his candidacy on June 16, 2015 (let that sink in). From that day forward he has been on a warpath, pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable in political discourse to the edge. And taking in the news of just yesterday alone, he has won.

By the way, these tweets come on the same day that the “No Sanctuary For Criminals Act” passed the House and heads to the Senate. According to reporting from E.A. Crunden at ThinkProgress, the bill demands that sanctuary cities comply with federal immigration operations, or face cuts in federal funding for initiatives that would, “reduce rape kit backlogs, combat opioid addiction, fight human trafficking, and hire career law enforcement.”

This means that cities that choose to ignore the law will either need to recuperate some or all of those funds to sustain those vital programs, or lose funding altogether for them. The message is clear: if undocumented immigrants aren’t deported, survivors of sexual violence, people addicted to drugs, victims of human trafficking, local law enforcement agencies, local budgets, and the local community will all suffer.

By the way, this bill also comes on the same day that the Supreme Court’s version of the infamous travel ban went into effect, banning travel from six majority-Muslim countries with some slightly moderate exceptions. There are serious concerns being raised about whether the ongoing battle for these travel restrictions are an unconstitutional religious ban in disguise.

These concerns are not dampened by Trump’s previous statements, saying that he wanted an indefinite ban on Muslims entering the U.S. Nevertheless, this bill directly targets refugees who are fleeing countries ravaged by terrorist groups like ISIS ― never mind that taking in refugees is so central to the American identity that it is on our most famous statue.

The so-called “health care reforms” that the Republican House and Senate tried to pass at an extreme pace would not only undo all of the gains that Obamacare made, but leave 22 million people without health insurance by 2026 rather than leaving Obamacare in place. The people who would lose their health insurance would lose affordable and live-saving access to doctors. Lives would be unnecessarily lost because of this legislation, yet tragically, some of the same people with the most to lose are still in support of the Republican bill. Those who won’t be personally affected and still support the bill just don’t care that others will die needlessly.

With a travel ban that hurts refugees, tough immigration laws that hurt law-abiding undocumented immigrants (and have the potential to hurt many others), and an outright hostile healthcare plan that will hurt poor and middle class families alike, the theme of 2017 conservatism in the US, led by Trump, is a moratorium on sympathy. The idea of walking a mile in someone else’s shoes seems lost on a large portion of the country, and I’m not alone in thinking this. And that lack of sympathy matched with the level of vitriol openly used by the President of the United States is dangerous. This political climate is already bearing fruit: just look at the National Rifle Association’s newest video, transcribed below:

“They use their media to assassinate real news. They use their schools to teach children that their president is another Hitler. They use their movie stars and singers and award shows to repeat their narrative over and over again. And then they use their ex-president to endorse the resistance. All to make them march, make them protest, make them scream racism and sexism and xenophobia and homophobia and smash windows, burn cars, shut down interstates and airports, bully and terrorize the law abiding — until the only option left is for police to do their jobs and stop the madness. And when that happens, they’ll use it as an excuse for their outrage. The only way we stop this, the only way we save our country and our freedom is to fight this violence of lies with the clenched fist of truth. I’m the National Rifle Association of America and I’m freedom’s safest place.”

The NRA’s ad is sickening. It’s filled with dogwhistles and divisive language, suggesting that news, public education, and entertainment are all against them. It’s a shameless, thinly veiled “us vs them” narrative featuring a call for people to take up arms against the NRA’s political enemies. If the NRA only cared about gun rights, they would look into the case of Philando Castile, a law abiding registered gun owner who was shot almost immediately by a police officer during a routine traffic stop. Their silence on the issue in juxtaposition with their new ad is deafening and telling.

Why do we, as Americans, want to punish undocumented immigrants for fleeing a drug war that the U.S. is at least partially responsible for? (If you disagree with that assertion, you’re disagreeing with Rex Tillerson, Trump’s Secretary of State.) There is already a lengthy process for vetting refugees wishing to enter the U.S., why must there be a largely arbitrary ban placed on these countries on top of that? Why did largely Republican members of the House and Senate try to push a bill that would leave human beings with no ability to get care for illnesses and live a better quality of life? Why is the NRA trying to channel political outrage into a second civil war?

I’m not saying I have the answers for these questions, nor am I saying that I have the answers for how to deal with these larger political issues. I’m not even saying I have the right opinions, but at the very least I can imagine myself in the shoes of the undocumented immigrant, the uninsured patient, the Muslim refugee, and yes, the middle-American who has felt socially and economically disenfranchised until the last election.

If we stop the vitriol, and put ourselves in the shoes of those we disagree with, we can actually find common ground and create policy that works well for as many people as possible. Until that mindset reaches critical mass, however, the hostility is unlikely to end.