President Reagan used to say, “America is great because America is good; and if she ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.”
In the last month, we have seen both the goodness and greatness of America in the face of tragedy – the destruction wrought by Hurricane Maria, and then the worst mass shooting in modern American history.
Last week, I talked about how the American people are coming together to aid Puerto Rico in their time of need, overcoming the shameful and divisive rhetoric of Democrat politicians, liberal activists, and biased reporters. This week, I want to focus on the Las Vegas tragedy and how the response to what happened there shows the best of America, the worst of our politics, and how our political system should be working to bring people together, not driving them apart.
As many of you know, I lived in Las Vegas for four years, from age 13 to 17, and the city will always be close to my heart. In the aftermath of the shooting, I heard from high school friends who work as first responders there. One of them is a police officer who was at the scene of the shooting and was running towards the gunfire and saving lives, while others were running away. Another is a captain in the local fire department who was called in to respond immediately after the shooting. Another is a police detective who investigated the scene of the crime for hours immediately after the shooting. And another is a mental health specialist who spent her days after the shooting at the Las Vegas Convention Center helping the victims who were traumatized by what happened.
These men and women are true heroes. They have dedicated their lives – and in many cases, put their lives in danger – to help their fellow Americans in times of crisis and suffering. In Vegas, we also saw everyday people doing their part, trying to help in any way that they could. The most famous example: people in Vegas waiting in line for hours to donate blood to those who were wounded by the attacker. This is inspiring, but also symbolic of the American character – from Idaho to Las Vegas to Puerto Rico, and all the places in between: When our friends, neighbors, and even strangers are suffering, our first instinct is to ask “How can I help?” and then we do everything we can to make things right.
As Reagan said, the American people are great because they are good. But, sadly, too many parts of our political system are trapped in a false “us versus them” mentality, using tragedies like Hurricane Maria and the Las Vegas shooting to score political points at a time when unity and compassion are essential.
Less than nine hours after the shooting, Hillary Clinton politicized the horror when she tweeted: “Imagine the deaths if the shooter had a silencer, which the NRA wants to make easier to get.” Around the same time, Chris Murphy, a Democrat senator from Connecticut, issued a profane call for “Congress to get off its a-- and do something.”
I’m sure politicizing the horror made Clinton, Murphy, and their supporters feel good. But what does casting aspersions on the NRA and Republicans in Congress actually accomplish?
On “Face the Nation,” Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein admitted that no law could have stopped the shooter in Vegas, who passed background checks multiple times. That’s true. In fact, after the San Bernardino shooting of 2015, the Washington Post’s fact checker confirmed that proposed gun laws would not have stopped any of the 12 mass shootings from Newtown to San Bernardino. This is why some gun control supporters who have bothered to study the issue have had a change of heart. This month, the Post ran an op-ed by statistician Leah Libresco titled, “I used to think gun control was the answer. My research told me otherwise.” It’s an important piece – taking a statistical approach to the debate over gun control, and you can read it here.
While most Americans think facts should be an important part of our political process, many Democrats in Washington have a different perspective; they don’t want to be confused by the facts. They just want to make their opponents look bad. This is awful by itself, but what makes it even worse is when liberal activists regurgitate their leaders’ divisive rhetoric and take it up a notch.
The best example is Hayley Geftman-Gold, a lawyer for CBS, who wrote on Facebook the morning after the shooting: “If [the Republicans] wouldn’t do anything when children were murdered [in Newtown] I have no hope that the Repugs will ever do the right thing. I’m actually not even sympathetic [because] country music fans often are Republican gun toters.”
What would inspire anyone to have this type of reaction, I have no idea. It’s beyond the pale. But it’s another example of how many liberals in today’s America mentally process every event (even one as tragic as Vegas) as a soapbox for moral preening and to attack those who have different political opinions as moral failures.
Even comedians can’t help themselves. While the best comedians use comedy to place a mirror in front of society and help us reflect, these days we’re seeing comedians use their platforms to lecture us on their moral superiority.
To take one example, less than 24 hours after the shooting, alleged comedian Jimmy Kimmel opened his talk show with a 10-minute rant about gun control. Ignoring his instincts – “I want this to be a comedy show” – Kimmel nevertheless lectured his audience, saying Second Amendment supporters “should be praying for God to forgive them for letting the gun lobby run this country.”
Perhaps Kimmel should ask his audience to forgive him. Most Americans turn to late-night comedy as a respite from the headlines and to unwind before a good night’s sleep. Whether we’re Republicans, Democrats, or Independents, we don’t want politics to intrude into every single corner of our lives. And yet from Capitol Hill to late-night comedy, from college classrooms to the NFL, liberals keep trying to inject politics – and just their politics, no one else’s – into every aspect of American life. It needs to stop.
In the face of national tragedy, there should be no place for partisan rancor. Rather, we should come together as Americans, ready to help one another and to rebuild after great loss. To me, these are the most important lessons of Hurricane Maria and Las Vegas. The American people are amazing, and they deserve a political system as good as they are.