More and more people are becoming aware of and concerned about the level of political dialogue going on right now. We’ve gotten to a point where I’m seeing almost no intelligent debate about any serious issue. Russiagate now consumes such a massive amount of our collective energy, it feels we’ve become nearly incapable of discussing anything else. Even worse, Russiagate has morphed into a creepy D.C. establishment religion where merely demanding evidence for the wild claims being made gets you labeled a traitor or Putin agent. Ironically, average Americans don’t care about the issue.
When Gallup recently asked Americans what the most important (non-economic) problem facing the country today is, the amount of people saying Russia was so low they couldn’t even attribute a number to it.
Think about that. We’re being divided into two camps of increasingly insane and angry people because of hysteria surrounding an issue nobody even cares about. As usual, we can thank mass media for turning this topic into its singular obsession as well as promoting an environment of cultural insanity and stupidity.
As a result, people aren’t having intelligent conversations with one another. They’re just yelling at each other. The dialogue feels more like a political hunger games where people see everything as a linguistic competition of kill or be killed. Language itself has become debased as individuals try to one up each other with name calling and hyperbole.
Demonizing and dehumanizing the other side appears to be the primary goal, which will only lead to a very bad place if we don’t take a collective deep breath.
One of the more discouraging and sad parts of the current environment is watching many of Trump’s opponents, who define themselves by being ethical, completely toss this aside in their furor at Trump. A recent tweet by liberal hero Shaun King perfectly proves the point.
“It’s absolutely treasonous.” No, it absolutely isn’t. But don’t take my word for it. Let’s examine some excerpts from a recent article published by Steve Vladeck, a professor of law at the University of Texas School of Law whose teaching and research focus on federal jurisdiction, constitutional law, and national security law.
From his NBC article, Americans Have Forgotten What ‘Treason’ Actually Means — And How It Can Be Abused:
Treasonous acts may be criminal, but criminal acts are almost never treason. As Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution specifies,“Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.” The Founders went out of their way to define treason narrowly because they knew how it had been repeatedly abused in the past…
Thus, to ensure that treason could not likewise be co-opted for political or personal purposes, the Constitution’s drafters not only defined it precisely (it’s the only offense specifically defined in that document), but also specified that “No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.” (Article III also limits the punishment that can be inflicted, even with a conviction)…
By those metrics, it should be obvious why it is not treason to either refuse to applaud the president or to collude with Russia to influence the outcome of a presidential election. To be sure, the latter, if proven, is light-years worse than the former. But treason is not defined by the gravity of the offense; it’s a crime indicating the clear support our enemies during wartime, period…
To be sure, there’s no law against the colloquial misuse of a legal term — nor should there ever be. But the more we use the t-word to refer to conduct that doesn’t remotely resemble the constitutional definition, the more we are — willfully — turning a blind eye to the sordid history of treason that led to its unique treatment in the U.S. Constitution.
Shaun King considers himself both an ethical human and a journalist, but his tweet was just lazy and stupid. Lazy because it’s very easy to search what treason means, and why it’s one of the most loaded and well-defined terms you can use. Stupid because he must know that flippant accusations of “treason” have historically been used by right-wingers against leftists.
Normalizing such a tactic will only end up hurting the marginalized people he’s dedicated his life to protecting. It’s incredibly dumb and shortsighted, but just another example of what Trump Derangement Syndrome can do to you.
I don’t mean to pick on him. We’re all extremely flawed human beings that could benefit from self-reflection and humility. We all need to get down off our soapboxes, look in the mirror and she what wild-eyed lunatics we look like. I try to do this as often as possible, yet recognize that I’m far from the person I’d like to be. There’s no destination in life, only the journey.
A major problem with today’s charged political environment is too many people have become too attached to outcomes. Whether that outcome is removing Trump from office, or reelecting him. If you’ll do anything to achieve your goals, anything to grab power, or deploy any tactics to prove your point then you will become the monsters you claim to be fighting.
Too many of us are becoming passionate, engaged monsters and it won’t lead to anything good.