(IVN) Making a campaign stop in Montana and appearing on stage with Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT), President Donald Trump went a step further than endorsing the congressman despite his physical assault on a reporter the night before a special election last year.
To the sound of hoots, cheers, and whistles from the MAGA rally crowd, the president explicitly endorsed Gianforte's assault (for which he was criminally charged) saying:
"Any guy that can do a body slam, he's my kind of... He was my guy... There's nothing to be embarrassed about."
When the Montana businessman body slammed a Guardian reporter on camera last May, the night before winning a special election to fill an open seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, I wrote on IVN in condemnation of the kind of heedless partisanship that would allow Gianforte to win after assaulting someone on tape:
"What this indisputable event, caught on audio and with eyewitnesses, shows us about Gianforte, is that he:
How can anybody vote for someone who exhibits these qualities so conspicuously on the eve of an election? Imagine how he might have acted if he were going into election day with a loss hanging over his head instead of an easy win? What on earth does it take to disqualify someone from being a person we would want to have more power than they already do, any role of leadership and prestige, any say in how our society should be organized? Republican leaders and voters cared more about what letter was next to Gianforte’s name in this election than the quality of his character and the integrity of their own consciences and good faith."
- Is extremely impulsive and foolish;
- Is very unpredictable and volatile under stress; and
- Has a severe (sociopathic) anger problem.
Earlier this month we let you know about Hillary Clinton rejecting civility toward Republicans in an interview on CNN:
“You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about. That’s why I believe, if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and or the Senate, that’s when civility can start again. But until then, the only thing that the Republicans seem to recognize and respect is strength.”
Her comments surfaced just after a wave of violence and menacing behavior from the fringes of the Democratic Party toward Republicans. Donald Trump's even more brazen embrace of violent hostility in the political discourse likewise comes after a spate of violence and menacing behavior from the fringes of the Republican Party, including a brawl in New York City, and an aggressive mob confrontation of Nancy Pelosi in Florida.
In January of this year, I published an extensive research piece about the academic study of cults and cultic groups entitled, "12 Ways Political Parties Are No Different Than Cults."
In it I wrote that, "A dismantling critique of political partisanship in America should carefully note the similarities between the two major political parties and exploitative cults."
What we're seeing now is the emergence of a dangerous– potentially deadly– combination of two of the twelve characteristics that the two party system shares in common with cults:
1. The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law.
7. The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary.
This may result in members’ participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group.
It is a testament to the good character of the American people, that the fighting, the menacing, the assaulting over partisan differences are happening at the fringes, and are the exceptions and not the rule, even as the most visible leaders of each of the two major parties heartily embrace incivility and even assault.
But it speaks volumes about the animating spirit of the two party system– which is evidently anger, fear, and aggression– that its two most visible leaders, rather than reeling their supporters in, are throwing fuel on the fire of two party spite and stirring up trouble.
We need better leaders than this, and that's why Americans are making an exit from the two party system and becoming independent voters in droves.