Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire was probably just being a loyal Republican when he complained this week that President Joe Biden should apologize for slandering half the country. You don’t have to aim for the truth to be a party soldier, Republican or Democrat. All you have to do is say something outrageous and hope to get an equally silly retort from the other side.
It’s especially useful when it deflects attention from the real point at hand.
Partisan politics thrives on it. Demonize the opposition, and then accuse them of being uncivil, irrational, reckless and without redemption.
Sununu was on TV shortly after it was reported that Biden said people have to stand up to those most extreme Trump supporters whose zeal for absolutist right-wing policies approaches fascism. Rather than apologize, he should have said it sooner. The description could apply to those who participated in the assault on the Capitol and those who post threats against judges, politicians, journalists and anyone who criticizes Trump.
Fascism feasts on denial of the facts by otherwise decent people.
The hypocrisy of the whole scenario is that the discord does nothing to really examine why so many people are entrenched in support of an individual whose lies are epic in the annals of the American presidency.
Republicans who support Trump say they are being judged unfairly and lumped in with the radicals. So they will defend his actions because they want opinions to become truth, and facts to become debatable.
That same kind of sensitivity comes up among many Caucasian Americans when anyone raises the point that quality of life advances in the Anglo middle and upper classes came at the expense of Native Americans ,who were here before the whites, and Blacks, most of whom could trace their genes back to slavery, which is something we just would rather not address. To even mention it is considered an implied accusation and insult.
This is where my parent’s advice comes in: You will be known by the company you keep.
Fair or not, it’s true. It’s a form of bias that draws all the lines – racial, gender, religious, ethnic, educational, social class and wealth.
Social identity can be who one chooses to be, but too often it’s a label applied by others. In any case, it can become a camouflage for the insecure, or a theatrical mask for the climber, or a manipulative tool for the unethical, the con artists who would use deception to stoke up control and personal power over others.
If that sounds familiar, you might ask yourself if it makes you feel defensive or justified in your judgments.
The victim of all this childish bickering is American credibility. Abandoning balance and catering to absolutist political rhetoric destroys any chance of a forum where we should be having oratory and wisdom from rational leaders, even when there is disagreement on the goals or the paths to successful governance.
If you want to be believed, steer clear of those who support and make apologies for the behavior and choices of one who might have prompted Dad or Mom to say, “Be careful who you run with. You will be known by the company you keep.”
To which they might add, “And so will your family’s reputation.”
America’s reputation has been badly battered in recent years. We can spruce it up, but we have to deal with truth, not just manufactured vitriol.
Dean Minnich writes from Carroll County.