This guest post was submitted by Fargo attorney Mark Western
It’s Groundhog Day yet again.
Over the weekend, the Twitter-verse has been upended yet again with the President’s incendiary statement admonishing four Democratic members of Congress to “go back” to where they came from. While some have interpreted this as a taunt to go back to their congressional districts, most of the media, members of Congress, and other people who offer opinions on such things have determined that the President’s suggestion was for the members of Congress to go back to their “home” countries, and that the President’s comments are racist. Each of the members of Congress singled out by the President are female and all of them are of a minority ethnicity. Despite continued demands by many, the President has refused to apologize.
Frankly, this discussion is not good for the country and it is not good for the President and the President’s party. By his continued incendiary comments, the President puts Republicans (and anyone who has or does support the President) in an awful position.
Rather than focus on legislation, taxes, the budget, tariffs, foreign affairs, or even confirmation of judicial nominees, the President’s supporters are reduced to being hall monitor style Twitter-reactors who are now expected to respond to every idiotic and hateful thing that pops into the President’s mind that he feels the need to Tweet to the world. If the supporters of the President do not roundly condemn every vile Tweet that comes from the President, they risk being labelled as racist, sexist, and so forth. If they miss just one Tweet, then the opposition can say that “Congressman so-and-so sat silent while the President tweeted such-and-such.”
We elected our members of Congress to so something other than watch Twitter and cable news. They’re supposed to do all the stuff that high school seniors are taught in government textbooks like, you know, legislate, or something.
If I were a member of Congress, I would issue the following statement: “This office is not going to publish reactions to each and every Tweet from the President. To do so ends up dedicating too much time and too many resources that are better spent on helping people in my congressional district and making our country a better place. The President speaks only for himself in his Tweets and other statements and he is accountable for his statements, not me.”
A couple of years ago I was confident that the President was not racist but because he could get carried away in rallies, he often said incendiary things in the heat of the moment. At this point, I’m not sure anymore. I don’t want to believe that any President of any party is racist, sexist, or any -ist that separates people based on the accident of their birth or their upbringing by their family.
The President’s continued antics are a distraction to the business of our country and beneath the dignity of his office. But this has already been said over and over and nothing has changed other than the topic and victim of the President’s Twitter whims.
I am tired of trying to find ways to explain the President’s behavior, other than the President appears to be the biggest internet troll there ever was. He might be racist, or he may not be, but he says things that are at a minimum, racially insensitive over and over and over and does not seem to care. This is not going to change, and that makes me sad, both for the state of political discourse in our country and because a President should be a role model for citizens, and not an internet bully.
One of the worst parts of this is that in three months, there will likely be another half dozen instances of the exact same behavior with the exact same cycle of hysteria, demands, refusals to apologize, and rounds of reactions from members of Congress and talking heads, and then this week’s outburst will be forgotten.
Happy Groundhog Day!