After a few weeks of watching social media react to Rush Limbaugh’s dying of cancer at the age of 70, I thought of an incident regarding death and politics from about 10 years ago.
It was January 8, 2011. 19 people, including Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, were shot by Jared Lee Lughner in a parking lot. 6 people died, including a 9 year old girl. It was a horrific tragedy in every sense of the word. I remember when I saw the news; it was a Monday night, as I was just getting home from my Boy Scout meeting. I got home at about nine and my mom was watching Hannity. I saw the news and do you know what the first thing that popped into my head was?
“R or D?”
Woah I thought after that thought went through by cranium. How could you even think that Harry? That is the lowest I have ever sunk into political vitriol, and I hope I never reach those depths of inhumanity again.
R or D?
The question still sticks in my mind to this day because when a woman was shot; a woman with a family and people who love her; the only thing I wanted to know was whether or not she was in the same political party my parents were in.
R or D?
This episode, I guess you could call it, is what led me to doubt the political institutions that operate outside the government: the parties, the PACs, the opinion shows, all of it. It all made me sick that the things that I had been consuming had caused me to care more about red or blue rather than dead or alive. I was beyond ashamed.
R or D?
As terrible a thought that was, I still hold it close so I never forget. I never want to forget how our non governmental political institutions created so much malice in me that I overlooked a person’s own humanity and reduced that person down to one of two silly insignificant letters.
R or D
This is the problem with American politics, especially so in the age of the pandemic. Has a Republican done a good job dealing with the pandemic? No it can’t be. A Black man describing his rise to political prominence through hardships endured by his family? He’s a Republican though, so not so fast! Democrats want police reform? Better throw my support behind every cop ever, including Derek Chauvin. Republicans are against rioting? Well if they’re against it, I must be for it, right? If a certain Democrat said they were a dog person and that Democrats love dogs, Ben Shapiro would post a video of him holding a cat by the nape of its neck claiming that the only way to own the libs is to go on a feline frenzy. If a certain Republican said they were a dog person and that Republicans love dogs, Ibram Kendi would tweet a picture of a German Shepherd and go on about how dogs were used in the past to uphold white supremacy. Why?
R or D.