Sunday, June 21, 2020
We All Have Responsibility
written 14 June 2020
published 21 June 2020
The origin of the word "sin" is an archery term, meaning "to miss the mark'", "off target", or "go astray". In this form, it is an evaluation of a specific attempt, rather than the categorical judgment usually associated with the punitive religious meaning. If I miss the mark on this effort, I have another chance the next time. The only requirement is the intention to improve.
Derek Chavin, an officer with 18 violent complaints on his record, is charged with 2nd degree murder for killing George Floyd. Assisting in a crime, before or after, is also a crime. Tou Thao, with 6 violent complaints on his record, stood watch over the crowd while Floyd was killed, and is charged with aiding and abetting. Two other officers, Alex Kueng and Thomas Lane, trainees with less than a week on the job, helped hold Floyd down. They are also charged with aiding and abetting: marked for life because they trusted their superior officers.
In America, where the ideal is equal protection under the law, this entire event was a sin, missing the mark. The death of George Floyd was not a unique event, but the response has been, and America may have hit a tipping point, with the intention to do better. The protests are widespread and ethnically diverse. Ubiquitous smart phones capture activities that used to happen in relative secrecy, allowing the whole world to see firsthand, sometimes while it is happening. This allows innate human compassion to rise up and say, "This must stop now!"
For the benefit of the group, members and leaders of a group have responsibility to call out corruption within their group, because corruption by a few taints the entire organization and destroys trust within the institution and within the larger society. This response is beginning to happen around social justice, but it must happen within politics as well.
Republicans have always been the party of the wealthy, but they used to have other values as well, such as family values, rule of law, honoring the Constitution, patriotism, and democracy. But the rise of Trump, and the endemic corruption of his brand driven egomania, has dragged the party away from those historic values. What line could Trump cross that would finally provoke a tipping point within the party about his excesses? The party leaders are narrowly focused on maintaining political power, but the mass of Republican voters may have other concerns.
Is democracy still a Republican value? Are Republican goals so narrowly crafted to benefit the very wealthy that they know they can never win a fair election? Republican leaders have admitted this to be true, and use extreme gerrymandering and voter suppression to maintain control. The recent Georgia primary had hour long lines in predominantly black urban areas, and no lines in white areas. The recent Iowa primary was mostly vote by mail, with high voter turnout and no problems in execution, but Republican leaders passed legislation to prevent that from every happening again. Do rank and file Republicans accept cheating as a value?
In Wisconsin, Republicans required in-person voting during a pandemic, risking the health of poll workers and everyone wanting to vote, in the hopes of preserving an unpopular judge, who lost anyway. Is disregard for the lives of citizens a value? We know from experience that this is a corporate capitalist value, but are Republicans voters willing to risk their lives for the upper 1%?
The Republican party is now embarking on a grand experiment. To promote Trump's re-election, in spite of scientific medical advice to the contrary, they are planning large indoor campaign rallies and their national convention, with no masks or social distancing. They bet the pandemic is of no concern, and they are willing to risk the health of all of their people. Party faithful, many elderly and overweight, will be packed inside for hours in loud cheering masses: a perfect recipe for a super spreader event. These folks will then go back home and infect everyone else, with hospital results showing up within a month.
For the cult of Trump, this test of party loyalty is comparable to drinking the Kool-Aid in Jonestown. What does it take for Republicans to say "this has to stop?"