The radical left isn’t radical at all. Republicans, in their pursuit of power, forced the center to move left.
I spent a recent Saturday on the steps of the state Capitol in Olympia. My wife, son and I, along with a few thousand others, came to protest the forced separation of immigrant children from their families. We waved signs decrying President Donald Trump’s cruel zero-tolerance policy. It’s the least we could do, but it’s not enough.
I used to consider myself middle of the road when it came to politics. I valued compromise, the idea that each side got something and gave up something. My beliefs began to change when Barack Obama ran for president. The level of vitriol and outright racism from Republicans disturbed me, but I thought it was a fringe element that would fade away. I should have picked up a sign when the birther movement, led by Trump, questioned the legitimacy of this nation’s first black president.
I held my tongue when U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, a South Carolina Republican, in 2009 called President Obama a liar during a joint session of Congress, and in front of the entire country. I cringed when U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell responded to a question about whether Obama was a Muslim with, “The president says he’s a Christian. I take him at his word.” I became quietly irate when McConnell blocked Merrick Garland, by most accounts a centrist judge, from even getting a hearing on his failed bid for the U.S. Supreme Court.
Looking back, it’s clear to me why I never got involved. I assumed we were headed in the right direction, albeit slowly. I shook my head when Trump came down an escalator and labeled an entire nation of people racists and murders. I didn’t need to act because I believed he’d be run offstage. We had a chance at redemption in the fall of 2016 when the now infamous “Access Hollywood” tape captured the Republican candidate for president bragging about sexual assault. Surely, this would end the madness?
We’ve been living in outrage for 18 months now. One of the more recent episodes involved Sarah Huckabee Sanders being asked to leave a restaurant. Pundits from both sides of the aisle bemoaned the loss of decency. Many on the right were quick to label this incident as further proof of the intolerant and radical left.
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The radical left?
I am a creature of habit, one who prefers to avoid confrontation and who loathes bumper-sticker activism. In the past year-and-a-half I’ve been to six protests and visited my elected representatives on seven occasions — and that doesn’t include the times I phoned their offices. I’ve signed and created multiple petitions. I’ve spent hours familiarizing myself on topics including: health care, trade, climate change, economics, voting rights and immigration. I even went so far as to purchase a “Star Wars” rebel decal for my car to show allegiance to the resistance.
The radical left isn’t radical at all. Republicans, in their pursuit of power, forced the center to move left. I now straddle a line between moderate and progressive because it’s the only sane choice. There can be no compromise with the party of Trump.
The recent protest won’t be my last. As expected, Trump did nominate an ultraconservative judge to fill Anthony Kennedy’s seat. People will protest. We will call Senate offices. We’ll do this even though the outcome seems predetermined. We’ll be loud, but that doesn’t mean we’ll be heard by Trump and the Republicans. They’ve decided we don’t matter.
Maybe they’ll think differently on November 7.