Let me be clear: Donald Trump did not send bombs to anyone. And, neither did the Democratic Party.

It seems the debate over which party is trying to, or at least threatening to, kill two former presidents, a former secretary of state, two former CIA directors, a congressman, a senator, a former vice-president, a cable news network and an actor has become a whodunit focused on political parties.

I don’t believe that for a nanosecond, nor do sensible Americans.

I do believe, though, that there is a dangerous situation in our country with debate and the chasm between the two ideological sides will not be resolved by meeting in the middle. And I do believe the kind of rhetoric each sides employs makes it worse.

President Trump has led his followers from the middle, not the ideological middle but the rhetorical middle and he has let them to a louder, more ugly place.

The country’s standoff is not about right and left. It’s about right and wrong. And the wrongs are on both ends of that spectrum, but I do believe Trump has taken it to an extreme.

Body slamming a reporter. Promising to bail out folks who literally fight on his behalf. Defending despots. Ignoring the obvious when it comes to North Korea’s Kim, Saudi Arabia’s bin Salam, Russia’s Putin. That is not right wing versus left wing.

That is about a way of ruling that seems to appeal to President Trump – the power of a despot to dictate to his people. The type of leader who holds military parades honoring himself.

That is not conservative politics.

Trump couldn’t even get through his teleprompted speech without going off script and announcing how fake he was being. “I’m behaving,” he told his rally goers. He couldn’t keep a straight face even for as long as a speech lasts.

And, if you had any doubt as to his true feelings, he began tweeting the next day and pointing fingers at the media as a principal in the bomb spreading. Making it about politics and anything and anyone but him.

Let’s be clear, there’s a lot of blame to go around:

- Democrats, or at least people supporting Democrats, have committed acts of violence – the shooting of Republican congressmen a year ago for example.

- Republican rhetoric, led by Trump, has become mean, vicious and violent.

- The cable news media has become a “here’s a bit of news, now let’s go to our panel of (paid) talking heads for a discussion,” which isn’t really a discussion but hours of argument between right and left – or right and wrong.

- The internet contributes by hosting both right and left wing websites and many of us visit only one or the other, never getting a clear view of what’s going on, but one through a single ideological prism.

The bombings are the fault of us all.

What the President misses though is that he is the leader of the country. He sets the tone. He can raise the volume and he can decrease the volume.

Put aside the attempted bombings, the law will get, I am sure, whoever perpetuated that terrorism.

What we all can do is tone it down. Get our ideological or political arguments back to substance not ad hominem attacks. Get back to our American experiment which is in danger of failing right now.

Get back to rule of law. To respectful debate. We have some difficult issues facing us and debate about the substance is what will resolve those issues, not pointing fingers and assessing blame.

I have friends in my Facebook account who would describe themselves as conservatives and other friends who describe themselves a progressives. The memes each publish can often be juvenile, sophomoric and hateful, not clever.

We need to stop “liking” and re-sending or tweeting such hateful nonsense.

Some “conservatives” believe the Democratic National Committee paid someone to send those bombs and are paying the migrants on their march to a freer life as a way to stoke emotions prior to the mid-term elections. And, there are others who claim the Republicans are paying them to energize those who want to close our borders and keep out people who are this generation’s version of our ancestors – seeking a better, more secure life for their families.

If anyone is still looking to Trump for calm, thoughtful, adult leadership, give it up. He cannot provide it and even if he tried, no one would believe him. He'd just skip off that kind of message in his next sentence, as he did the other night.

We need to remember that we all came from our parents’ and grandparents’ generations of pilgrims searching for a better life. They created a society where everyone is equal. Where everyone has freedom of speech to say what they want (within some limits like, no shouting fire in a crowded theater when there is no fire). Where we have a free press, there to keep our elected officials honest.

That’s why so many millions have emigrated here and created an even better society.

We keep up the way we’re going, we won’t be that destination much longer.

(Just before I wrote this piece, the President tweeted this:

It’s up to us to have the discussion… he clearly can only see politics.).🔷


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(This piece was originally published on The Screaming Moderate.)

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(Cover: Flickr/The White House/Shealah Craighead - President Trump in the Oval Office of the White House. | 23 October 2018. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)