A Shooter at the Fringe

The shooting in Alexandria, Virginia of Republican House Majority Whip Steve Scalise

And Capitol Police Officers Crystal Griner and David Bailey and congressional staffer Zack Barth, was sickening and heartbreaking. I even wish I could hug my usual nemeses, Paul Ryan and Congressional Republicans. That’s how awful I feel. Too often, those at political odds do not look at each other as humans. Terrible events like this let us break through that—well, for a couple of days.

Fortunately for me, I could never hate all people across the political aisle as that would write off half of my family. If I really hated Republicans, I could never have taken money from my parents. (My mother is now an Independent so it’s easier to take her hand-outs.)
Now, the blame over the shooting has begun. Some on the GOP side are pointing to Democrats for spawning this violence. It’s no surprise that Rush Limbaugh took that angle, saying that the shooter in Alexandria represents “the lunatic fringe base, the deranged base of the Democrat Party.” Firstly, a “fringe” is not a “base.” And this person occupied the fringe, not the base.

Calling the entire Democratic Party deranged is ridiculous. The average Democrat I doubt carries a gun. Extreme right-wing militias are much more frightening than coastal liberals armed with a latte. Labeling this specific lunatic as a “Democrat” at all is strange. Yes, he was a big Bernie Sanders supporter. However, (and this does not describe the bulk of his backers), Sanders attracted some quite angry non-affiliated voters. Many of us have noticed an element of white male rage there, like what we have seen on the right. (In fairness, tons of women have political anger as well, and have vented it. I am exhibit A.)

This shooter, though, was not the type to join a political party. He must have been an Independent. This man was enraged at the system. He was anti-establishment. He would never have worn a “Proud Democrat” button. Most self-identified Democrats accept the system and followed the Party in the General. Most card-carrying Democrats thought things like: “The primary is done. We need to unite to stop Trump. Give me that ‘I’m with Her’ Sticker.” A Party-participating Democrat would find something decent to say about the establishment like, “I respect Nancy Pelosi’s judgement on committee assignments.” I doubt any of these things ever went through that evil shooter’s mind.

Put it this way: Most Democrats did not vote for Jill Stein, like he did. Just voting for Jill Stein may have been a cry for help. (No offense intended. Well, maybe offense intended.) And before you really hate me, let me be clear: Jill Stein voters aren’t all vicious and murderous either! I know a few and they are very nice people, although we tend to fight a lot. My point is that some scary stuff lies at the political extremes. And one of those scary things was this man.

We all know that crazy comes from everywhere, spanning across the political spectrum. And crazy people having easy access to guns is the craziest part of all. But I do worry that the danger may especially linger on the fringes, as extremism can sometimes lead to extreme actions.