Yoho, AOC, Trump, and the degradation of civic culture

“Fucking bitch!” he ended with. Following some other choice bons mots, including “disgusting” and “out of your freaking mind.”

That was Congressman Ted Yahoo (correction: Yoho) (R-FL), speaking unprovoked to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), with his finger in her face. At the capitol. In public. In front of reporters.

Later, he “apologized” on the House floor, but said, “I cannot apologize for my passion for loving my God, my family and my country.”

The Washington Post drily noted that it was “not clear how or why loving one’s God and country would require a member of Congress to have a public meltdown on capitol grounds.”

In contrast was Ocasio-Cortez’s eloquent epithet-free response. She disembowled Yoho with a stiletto. It wasn’t personal — it was about our culture.

I am no fan of AOC’s far-left politics. “Socialism” is a word much mis-used by people who don’t know its meaning (they typically point to countries more free-market than America). We can debate such matters. But Yoho’s words were not political discourse. They reflect deep sickness in our body politic.

I myself have written very caustically about Trump. This embodies my factual analysis of reality, as a close student of politics for over fifty years, nearly all as a partisan Republican. Until my party went off the rails.

Led of course by Trump, unconstrained by reality or decency. Indeed, one of the things I fault him for is the degradation of civic culture I’m talking about here, which Yoho exemplifies. For example saying AOC and other U.S.-born Congress members should “go back” somewhere. Falsely suggesting broadcaster and former Congressman Joe Scarborough committed murder. Need I go on? And on and on?

Look at all the venom Trumpsters spew at Pelosi and Schumer. Of them I’m no great fan either. But they are just ordinary public officials, who take their responsibilities seriously, whose policies can be debated. Not monsters bent on destroying America. And what’s stunning is that people who invoke their names as though they’re talismans of evil (for reasons they cannot exactly specify) are blasé about Trump’s “peccadillos.” They mock Biden as weak in the head, but think Trump’s mind is fine. What planet are they living on?

Columnist David Brooks has written that come Biden’s inauguration in January, a great quiet will descend upon the land. Biden being a non-ideological, anodyne, get-the-job-done kind of guy, politics will cease being manic Manichaean warfare. But I fear Brooks is dreaming. For the next three months Trump and his cult will demonize Biden with deranged ferocity. I’d like to think a bath of cold water on November 3 will snap these people back to reality. Maybe for some it will, but others will be deranged even more. Seeing Biden as the antichrist, they’ll behave accordingly.

In 1856, South Carolina Congressman Preston Brooks went into the Senate Chamber and savagely attacked Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner with a cane, maiming him for life. Perhaps the opening blows of the Civil War.

We’re not quite there yet. But Trump and his yohos play with fire.

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