History offers an important insight with the contrast of black and white of the “what could have been.” There are flash moments of the past for us to reflect on, where a single gunshot could be heard around the world which effectively changed its landscape. On September 6, 1901, anarchist Czolgosz shot Progressive President, William McKinley, who later died 8 days later. On June 28, 1914, Gavrilo Princip, a member of the Serbian Black Hand nationalist group, shot Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife. On November 22, 1963, President John F Kennedy was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald. Louisiana Congressional Representative Steve Scalise can be seen as the man that prevented the shots that critically injured him from fundamentally changing the world.
Steve Scalise, along with 19 other Republicans and staffers were on the field when 66-year-old, unemployed James T. Hodgkinson opened fire with the intent to kill as many people as possible. Hodgkinson, who had been living in his van, was angry with Republicans and Donald Trump for allegedly implementing an agenda that he believed favored the rich and punished the poor. Hodgkinson was a loyal Bernie Sanders supporter and volunteered for Sanders on his 2016 Democratic presidential campaign. It is apparent that Sanders had appealed to Hodgkinson with a virulent message of growing income equality due to the greedy, rich, one percent.
Scalise, Matt Mika, a lobbyist for Tyson Foods, Zach Barth, a legislative correspondent for Roger Williams (R-Tex.), Special Agents, David Bailey and Crystal Griner, were all injured in the shootout. Both Scalise and Mika were critically injured. While horror and panic unfolded, a sober conversation began around the nation from common everyday Americans of what could have happened if Scalise was not at the baseball field.
Steve Scalise holds a leadership position of the “Whip” in the House of Representatives which affords him a security detail. The heroes that confronted Hodgkinson during his attempt to achieve maximum carnage against his political enemies – the Republicans, prevented Hodgkinson from entering a dugout where most of the congressional members hid to avoid being killed. If Scalise was not there, there wouldn’t have been any armed security. Those at the field would not have made it out alive, most likely. Hodgkinson had them pinned within the partially fenced-in field, and he was approaching the dugout before he was confronted by the special agents.
While this seems like a horrific scenario for these seemingly helpless, unarmed representatives, the possible repercussions of such a massacre could have shaken the foundation of the United States and even the world. The Daily Caller reported that the FBI have recovered a list from the body of Hodgkinson that consisted of Freedom Caucus Republicans.
The Freedom Caucus is a key group of Republicans that hold the future of Obamacare in their hands. The list included Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks, South Carolina Rep. Jeff Duncan, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, Tennessee Rep. Scott DesJarlais, Virginia Rep. Morgan Griffith and Arizona Rep. Trent Franks. They have supported a full repeal of the law but have compromised recently to work with more progressive Republicans. The divide between Democrats and Republicans, as well as between Progressives and Conservatives could not be much greater at this time.
In a time of such political distress, nearly a dozen Republican vacancies in Congress could have sent the country into political and economic turmoil. Markets all around the world would have shuttered with uncertainty as the attack would definitely test the resolve of the most powerful nation in the world. The economy has struggled for the last eight years to recover from what is often called the “Great Recession.” Hodgkinson’s actions can be seen as actions not short of creating a revolution in the wake of this political and economic turmoil.
America is at a turning point.
Bernie Sanders is not responsible for this shooting, but his popularity is emblematic of the anger at the political establishment which drove Hodgkinson to carry out this horrific attempt at revolution. Donald Trump also rose to popularity on the waves of the same anger at the establishment that could also produce a violent actor like Hodgkinson. Since the shooting of Scalise and others, I have seen a disturbing trend on social media where online activists seem to be taking score and tallies about how many people of each political party have committed horrific acts like Hodgkinson did yesterday. Not only is this entirely tasteless in this sensitive time, but it is also ignorant.
Radicalism is violence
Violence is the common thread that runs through all radical ideologies whether it is Progressivism, Fascism, Communism, or Socialism. If you follow the lineage of foundational philosophers and leading political operatives that have applied these ideologies, you will find the graves of up to a hundred million people in their wake. Socialism dehumanizes the individual in order to break them down into a manageable widget in the grand utopian plan of totalitarians.
Bernie Sander’s Progressivism did not sprout out of a different proverbial well of philosophy from what Lenin and Stalin’s Communism sprouted from. Barack Obama’s Progressivism didn’t grow out of a different field than that of Mao’s Communism. They are all built on the dehumanization of the individual, and the collectivization of people through the violence of the hammer and sickle. Progressivism is radical and violent at its core.
Hodgkinson represents one person that tragically succumbed to the bitterness, resentment, and full-fledged hate that embodies Progressivism, and he attempted to act out his evil revenge. He died as a cold, unrecognized martyr in the eyes of many radicals fighting the established Bourgeoisie or rich class. The product of his wrath is what is appreciated by the radical.
Progressivism, otherwise known as Marxist-Leninism, is built on the premise that members of society exist in a social class, and that the elimination of these classes is the only way that human beings can collectively progress. In order to eliminate the classes, the members must become socially conscious of their class status and participate collectively with other oppressed classes to break down the barriers between them. Inevitably, the collectivization of the oppressed classes can “democratically” work together to take back the modes of production from the wealthy and rich who have set up the class structure in order to oppress them.
The “Establishment” is another word for Bourgeoisie
I partially, and reluctantly, accept the term “establishment” as it resembles the socio-economic construct that Karl Marx developed in his writings, and what he called the Bourgeoisie. Donald Trump ran his presidential campaign on his promise to tear down the political establishment or the “draining of the swamp” in Washington DC. This is red meat to many around the nation and straddles political party lines. Conservative Republicans relate to the sense of powerlessness at the hands of Establishment Republicans in name only (RINOS) who have made promises to repeal Obamacare and reduce the burden of the federal government on working people while doing none of it. Liberal Democrats relate to the term establishment, as well, as politicians like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have cratered to the pressure of their large donor base despite the interests of their constituencies.
Donald Trump was not a rising star with brilliance and political prowess. He simply tuned into the frustrations of people embattled in the class struggle that they have been served by Progressive Republicans and Democrats. Donald Trump championed the drowned-out voice of the white working man by rejecting the social justice narrative that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and many other Progressive leaders. He rallied other disenfranchised members of progressively defined minority groups. Trump ran on the unity of Americans behind one nation and under one flag while boldly expressing the need to spit out the nasty taste of identity politics and political correctness.
Much like Obama’s rise to power as a reaction to eight long years under George W. Bush, Trump’s election is the result of angry Americans participating in a political backlash to Obama. These pendulum swings of power are no longer built on the promise of a brighter and more promising American with refreshing ideas. The swings are propelled by anger and a desire to tear down the legacy policy monuments created by a previous administration. This is nihilistic and dangerous, and the country has drifted into a place where we don’t know what we stand for anymore.
We have to abandon the idea of the “class struggle” for it will only perpetuate division in the country. We have to return to the idea that the individual citizen is the sovereign originator of power in America. We have to abandon the un-American idea that the rich are out to get us and that there needs to be a collective Democracy to “take the power back.” The power is taken back when we reduce the power of the federal government and return the governance of the United States back to the States and localities where we have the most access to make political change.
Steve Scalise happened to be in the wrong place at the right time. If he was not there, we would be having a different discussion. Our politicians are the result of the culture. We have to bring the debate back to the discussions about how the culture is split between the idea of American freedom and the failed idea of European socialism. Let’s focus on the ideas; people are simply its vessels.