[Welcome to The Weekly Bipartisan, where we share instances of meaningful bipartisanship, on the Hill and elsewhere. This project seeks to shine a light on efforts to come together to find common ground and advance shared values in a political climate defined by polarization, an increasingly jaded citizenry, and vilification instead of constructive dialogue and debate. –LDB Editors]
The past week provided a number of bipartisan policy issues ranging from a Loretta Lynch Inquiry to a bipartisan VA Accountability Bill. But, for the latest installment of The Weekly Bipartisan, the obvious choice was to celebrate our lawmakers for the compassion, humility, and civility exhibited through the events that took place June 14th.
Since 1909, members of Congress organize and participate in the annual Congressional Baseball Game for Charity, pitting a team of Republicans against a team of Democrats, all while raising money for charities like the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation, and the Washington Literacy Center. Around 6:30 a.m. on June 14th, a number of Republican members took the bases at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria, VA to practice for the charity game the following day. Of course, what happened shortly thereafter rocked the country
It so often happens in this country that, immediately in the wake of such an event, ideologues of all stripes latch onto the event to confirm their political biases and prejudices and insist the other side is somehow to blame. As LDB co-blogger Joel Nolette noted shortly after the incident, tongue firmly planted in cheek, in response to many in the commentariat:
This time, however, felt different. This one struck our elected leaders right at home, and the response, at least ever-so-briefly thereafter, was laudable.
The events precipitated the first ever joint press conference between Speaker Ryan and Minority Leader Pelosi. It’s unfortunate that it took such a horrific event to bring that about, but it certainly was encouraging to see.
In these moments right after the Alexandria shooting, it seemed like our elected representatives truly got it. They set aside the pettiness and the ideological axe-grinding to come together, reminding the country that at the end of the day, we are one nation under God, and that, whether red or blue in political persuasion, we all are committed to the red, white, and blue that symbolizes our shared civic community.
Unsurprisingly, of course, opportunists wasted no time in using this incident to push their agenda:
Per Amanda Marcotte over at Salon, Republicans had this all-but-coming to them:
Wednesday’s terrifying assault on a group of Republican congressmen at baseball practice demonstrated that no one is protected from the violence that plagues a country where gun industry profits and culture-war politics . . . have made reasonable gun-safety policies nearly impossible to enact. No one is spared, not even those who have done so much to make it easy for any madman with a vendetta to get the weaponry he needs to rain the sort of havoc that was visited on a bucolic park in Alexandria, Virginia, in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
In this race to the bottom, a cardinal rule is one good turn deserves another, and right-wing outfits were quick to try to “capitalize” on this tragedy as well:
To her credit, Representative-Elect Handel condemned this add as “disturbing and disgusting.”
Of course, some of the usual suspects were even pushing discredited propaganda in service of their agenda:
All this is symptomatic of a very broken political system. Which is why it was so refreshing to see our political leaders strive for magnanimity in this toxic culture of political one-upmanship, rather than feeding it.
Friedrich Nietzsche famously quipped: “He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster.” Based upon what we know of the congressional shooter, it appears he was a disgruntled man so tired of fighting what he perceived to be monsters that he turned himself into one in a fit of horrific exasperation. If we are not all more prudent in our political discourse, we’ll live out the truth, on a less-horrific-but-destructive-nonetheless level, that “We’re not so different, you and I.”
It is an indictment of our political order that this incident became fodder, in almost record time, for individuals and interest groups to blame whatever their bogeyman happened to be: “leftist rhetoric,” “gun culture,” or whatever other hobbyhorse the punditry chose to get on to push their preferred narrative. For a brief moment, however, it was relieving to see our elected officials at the center of our political debate and policy making, uniting against this evil act and expressing solidarity with the aim of further preserving the civility not only of our government institutions, but also of our society as a whole. It is not often I would encourage anyone to look to Washington for moral leadership, but our elected leaders’ response to the Alexandria shooting was a model for how we should face adversity together as a nation.