In the Observer today, we include an editorial from our neighbor, Blake Ashby. Blake speaks of the recent events in Washington, and as you might expect, I have a slightly different take on some of the details. The commentary here is my response to his.
As we approach two months in the post-Trump era, much of America breathes a sigh of relief. And not only Democrats. It is the peculiar product of polarization that people don’t always fall on the side of the divide that you’d expect. And as a Libertarian, I am most likely to fall on both sides of a divide, which gives ideological whiplash to those who still believe there are only two parties.
But regardless of how one feels about Trump, I am puzzled at the enthusiasm for keeping him at the center of national attention. It’s clear that Trump lives for publicity, and cares more for headlines than affection. Since the election, Democrats have made great effort at ensuring he continues to grab headlines. And this has been detrimental to their own political goals. Senator Schumer insisted that the Senate could multi-task during impeachment hearings, then proceeded to accomplish nothing during those days. One can’t help but wonder whether stimulus payments would already be here had that, rather than impeachment, been the first task of the new Congress.
My colleague, writing elsewhere in the Observer, says he “chuckled” at the suggestion that Black Lives Matter protesters would not have been treated with the same degree of gentleness that was lavished on the invaders of the Capitol. I strongly disagree, and this from my own personal experience. While those who invaded the Capitol were permitted to scale walls, climb through smashed out windows, and roam unimpeded through what one would presume is a very secure building, protesters in Ferguson have been tear gassed for nothing more than standing in the street. On countless occasions, I’ve seen the police chase, grab, and arrest somebody for nothing more than that. I shudder to think what the response would be if hundreds of protesters entered the secure area of the police station. I rarely agree with Cori Bush, but I have no doubt that she was correct in this: Black people would definitely have been shot if they attempted a stunt like this.
We live in a time where it is no longer acceptable for police to attack black protesters with fire hoses or dogs. But it is perfectly acceptable to attack them with tear gas and rubber bullets. And our state legislature, in response to Black Lives Matter, now seeks to make protesting in the street a felony. So while our country has a great deal of freedom, we do not distribute that freedom fairly. Until we do, it is only from a place of privilege that you can say “the system works.”