Solidarity after Alexandria Shooting

The Alexandria, Virginia Congressional shooting shines a spotlight on the intersection of mental health treatment, access to healthcare, extreme political rhetoric, and an absence of common ground approaches in government, in the media, and in public discourse.

Anyone capable of opening fire on unarmed people is violent, unhinged, and in need of treatment. This is why access to treatment, specifically mental health treatment, is so critical to protect, expand, and reinforce. The current healthcare bills rolling through Congress gut mental health treatment and access to health care insurance for those most at risk. This is absolutely unacceptable.

Mostly, I believe members of Congress are feeling pressured to pass Trumpcare, despite its known negative impacts on the health and wellbeing of their constituents. It would skyrocket premiums and deductibles for the sick and the elderly. These are the citizens least able to pay for those extreme increases.

This most recent wave of violence is predicated on decades of extreme rhetoric from both ideological extremes. This is how we end up with homegrown lone wolf extremists who go on shooting sprees. Last week it was Oregon on the far right. This week it was Alexandria on the far left.

We have to do better. After such a contentious presidential campaign in 2016, we need to be better communicators. I know I strive to do so everyday. I know I must do better. So must we all.

Yes, there are real threats to our democracy, to our voting and election systems, to healthcare, to our troops and allies abroad, and much more. We, however, cannot resort to violence and increased incendiary language. We most definitely can’t use these events as political weapons to further an ideological agenda.

It is ironic that when a right wing, white supremacist is the lone wolf, there’s little outcry from the right of coming together and resolving our differences peacefully.

It was welcome to see Bernie Sanders so quickly make such a strong public statement against the shooter, who had volunteered on his campaign. As this story continues to unfold, I’m certain many questions about motives will become more clear.

Also, Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi were in a rare moment of solidarity. We need more of that in this country and in our communities.

We need to hold our representatives & senators in Congress as well as the President accountable. We do that at the ballot box. We don’t beat people up or shoot people because we disagree with them or their politics. 

We all can come together around the set of common principles of vigilance, perseverance, and justice. Those principles happen to be what some of the stripes of our American Flag symbolize.

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