MINOT, N.D. — It's an ugly truth, but most are OK with tyranny and authoritarian crackdowns as long as those things are targeting the right people.
For all the chest-thumping populism on display in America today, the genius of our system of government is that it has as its foundation a list of things majoritarian political movements are not allowed to do. They cannot silence speech; they cannot restrict religion; they cannot grab guns.
So on and so forth.
It's called the Bill of Rights, and it's anti-democratic in all most wonderful ways.
We need these protections embedded in our most important legal document because the hoi polloi are hypocrites.
Donald Trump and his political movement have been a disaster for America, generally, and a seething sort of embarrassment in some particular ways. Like the "lock her up" chants aimed at Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign and repeated at a more recent Trump rally, just days ago, albeit that time aimed at Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
"Lock them all up," Trump said in response to the chants.
Both Clinton and Whitmer are embarrassments in their own right, but the president of the United States, even japing about imprisoning his political rivals, makes him unworthy of the office he holds.
But don't look so smug, my liberal friends.
The Biden-Harris ticket's platform can seem, at times, to have exactly one plank: "We're not Trump."
That's not enough.
It's recently become fashionable on the left to talk about a "truth and reconciliation commission" to enact reprisals against Trump supporters should the Biden-Harris ticket take office.
Here's former Labor Secretary Robert Reich talking about it:
When this nightmare is over, we need a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It would erase Trump’s lies, comfort those who have been harmed by his hatefulness, and name every official, politician, executive, and media mogul whose greed and cowardice enabled this catastrophe.— Robert Reich (@RBReich) October 17, 2020
Before we dismiss Reich as some far-left crank, remember that his recent endorsement of U.S. House candidate Zach Raknerud was touted favorably by the supposedly moderate North Dakota Democratic-NPL:
@RBReich is a voice for progressive economic policy that improves the lives of working families. His endorsement of @ZachforND is a testament to the excellent work that Zach is doing to advance policy that helps hard working NDans.— Kylie Oversen (@KylieOversen) September 24, 2020
Cc: @takeitback @adampwillis @LA_Hagen #ndpol https://t.co/P3NTKHxDE6
MSNBC talking head Chris Hayes has been talking about a "reconciliation commission," too, and Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin wants atonement for Trump supporters. "They should think more about atoning for the betrayal of their country than trying to escape the consequences of enabling a liar, racist and wannabe authoritarian," Rubin writes.
It seems she might know a thing or two about being a wannabe authoritarian.
It's not clear what these people are envisioning. Perhaps some Maoist struggle sessions, with Trump-supporting figures marched out on stage where they can be abused into confessing their sin of supporting the wrong president.
However they might design their commission, is what these influential left-wing figures calling for any better than the "lock 'em up" stuff of Trump rallies?
It might be worse. Trump, however believable the dodge, can at least claim he's kidding.
People like Rubin and Hayes and Reich seem deadly serious.
All of this is un-American.
Electoral political can be rambunctious, but it's one thing to throw a few sharp elbows at the opposition and quite another to carry on as if being the opposition were some criminal act.
We have got to stop doing this to one another.
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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at email@example.com.