For years, when I headed out the door to go to work, Roger would call down the stairs “Play nice with the other kids.” Depending on my mood I chuckled or grumbled. Of course, adults have learned to play well with others. Right? Wrong! The level of the “playing” field in Congress is very much the opposite of nice. It is an arena where cruelty, and threatening behavior is common place. The message is “Be afraid, be very afraid.” Security for Democratic Congressmen has increased exponentially, and threats against them, election officials , health care professionals, and even school board members have also increased exponentially. Playground bullies got nothin’ on Congress. Washing their months out with soap is a risky proposition when some members of Congress can barely part with their guns on the floor of Congress. “Who me? Can’t you take a joke?”—joking or hiding behind the silent wall of your buddies, even if they are Congressman, does not negate how the threat landed.
Paul Gosar, a Republican congressman, posted an anime video of him killing Democratic congressman, Alexandra Occasio Cortez, and attacking President Biden. He was censured by the House, but right after the censure Gosar reposted the video. I guess he got away with a slap on the wrist and thumbed his nose at the censure. Unfortunately, I am sure there will be more physical violence and people will die. In high school, his nickname was The Weasel. Paul Gosar’s brothers and sister recently wrote an opinion piece warning how “ridiculously unfit” their brother is to be a U.S. Congressman. It would be a good bet that he did not get their vote. They write that Gosar is a bigot, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim and associates himself with White Nationalists, none are endearing qualities. They believe Gosar was also instrumental in inciting the violence on January 6. It appears the Weasel is still living up to his nickname. Perhaps his siblings should have been listened to before he was elected.
Consider this, if your group of friends all swear like a drunken sailor, eventually swearing will seem very normal. We all get desensitized to what we see day after day. With frequent exposure to other’s behaviors we develop a new normal that fits our new reality. We get used to it. We may think that our families do things the right way, after all it’s what we’ve seen and experienced for years. I’m afraid we will get used to violent rhetoric and threatening behaviors; i.e.that’s how Congress always behaves. How low can we go before the brakes are applied? Is it all harmless? Is it true that “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me?” What if the “sticks and stones” are assault rifles? There is no debating with a gun. Social media speeds up the spreading of lies and personal attacks, and words do hurt ourselves and others. How many times can we see the dysfunction and violence in Congress before we get numb to it? I don’t want to find out.