The Health of Democracy vs. The New McCarthyism
A question to ask ourselves from time to time is, "do I care more about crushing my political enemies or instead taking good care of democracy?" Emotions have run high over the past few months again after the fallout from the January 6th Capitol breach and the change of leadership.
If, after some thoughtfulness, society agrees that taking good care of democracy is most important, the next question would be, "how do we take good care of democracy?" To that, political scientist Hannah Arendt offers an answer. She says we need impartiality, civic friendship, and solidary.
Impartiality here refers to considering different viewpoints without presupposing the conclusion. It means to see each argument in a neutral light. Civic friendship means to maintain reciprocal good will between fellow citizens. It includes a feeling of mutual recognition and mutual concern for one another. Solidarity refers to seeking and finding the common nature as humans from our previously fractured identity.
The Democrats' unequivocal determination to crush any future chances of President Trump gaining power is what stands in contrast to these elements. The Democrats have tried impeachment to ban Mr. Trump from ever running again. They have increased attacks on Trump allies, such as Matt Gaetz, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and the Freedom Caucus. It seems the left-wing will not be satisfied with Trump's loss to Joe Biden. They now are trying to destroy 'Trumpism' itself.
However, this is a new form of McCarthyism. The battle no longer takes place in the neutral public square. There is increasing pressure to ban and crush certain politicians from even speaking. Many leftists have also publicly stated that they want to ban certain people from politics and in some cases jail them. Some of these people include Donald Trump Jr.
In dealing with McCarthyism in the 1950s, Edward R. Morrow famously led a broadcast called "See It Now," which exposed McCarthy's tactics. He said, "It is necessary to investigate before legislating, but the line between investigating and persecuting is a very fine one and the junior Senator from Wisconsin has stepped over it repeatedly."
A Democracy can not prosper in such toxic conditions. Senator Marco Rubio said, "Only in the Third World do you see this habitual use of prosecutions of former leaders." He is right about that. If America is to be "restored to Unity" it will only be after restoring the public sphere to a healthy state. To do that, we must consider our thoughts, opinions, and actions from the standpoint of impartiality, civic friendship, and solidary.
It will be an enormous undertaking to rebuild the burned bridges and bring back virtue. But America has always fixed itself whenever it was down. We will see if the American people can do it again.