Former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said something this past summer that if true should have terrified us all. "Let us be clear and this is not trying to be overly dramatic: Thousands of people will die if the Republican health care bill becomes law," said Sanders.
Sanders predicted Republican legislation repealing Obamacare, if passed, would kill more people than the terrorists did on Sept. 11, 2001. He wasn't alone.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal authorities on Friday captured a Florida man with a criminal history and a fervor for President Donald Trump and acc…
"This will cost American lives if it ever becomes law. This will mean death," said U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey. "Families will go bankrupt. People will die," said U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts.
"Those who are sick will suffer, and some of them will die. This is a shame and a disgrace. May God have mercy on all of us," said U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia. "Two hundred thousand people will die if the affordable health care act is repealed," said Tom Perez, Democratic National Committee chair.
"The debate on health care is life and death. This is Armageddon," said U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat.
Shortly after these warnings of pending mass fatalities, 66-year old James Hodgkinson traveled to Alexandria, Virginia, with the intent to shoot and kill congressional Republicans. Hodgkinson, a former Bernie Sanders presidential campaign volunteer, fired 62 rounds while Republicans practiced for their yearly congressional baseball game. The shooting injured Louisiana's House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and three others. Two weeks later, the Republican attempt to repeal Obamacare failed by one vote in the Senate.
Is it possible Hodgkinson believed killing congressional Republicans would end up saving thousands of lives based on the dire warning from the presidential candidate for which he volunteered? Even if true, Sanders is not responsible for the shooting of Scalise and three others. Hodgkinson and Hodgkinson alone is. If Sanders believed repealing Obamacare would lead to the death of thousands, he had every right to say so.
Many in the media have blamed President Donald Trump and his heated rhetoric for the actions of Cesar Sayoc, who mailed bombs to prominent Democrats and other critics of the president in October. Sayoc was arrested in 2002 for threatening to blow up a building in Florida, long before Trump entered national politics. The difference in the way the media covered the Scalise shooting and the mail bombings is a stunning display of hypocrisy.
Trump has clearly raised the temperature level of political discourse with some of what he's said. But some of the national media's rhetoric has been at least as incendiary. "What Donald Trump and what the Republican party is using is racism. It's not about anything but scaring Americans and actually appealing to their most racist base instincts, " said MSNBC host Joe Scarborough this past week about Trump's opposing the caravan approaching our southern border.
"We can tiptoe around it and dance around it and not put our finger on it, but the president seems to harbor racist feelings about people of color from other parts of the world," said CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta about Trump's immigration policies.
"Kanye West is what happens when negroes don't read, " said CNN commentator Bakari Sellars about the artist's support of Trump.
“This president has radicalized so many more people than ISIS ever did,” GQ magazine correspondent Julia Ioffe said this past week on Jake Tapper's CNN show. Tapper didn't challenge Ioffe at the time, although she did later apologize for her comment.
This is a pattern from some on the left. Highly charged accusations claiming the policy of political opponents are heartless and will bring widespread suffering.
This summer, Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, warned that state House Republicans resisting his tax increases would send nursing home residents out on the streets. He also claimed anti-tax Republicans would cause people to go hungry because there'd be no more food stamps and hospitals would close. Talk about heated rhetoric. But Edwards had every right to make those claims assuming he thought they were true. Just as some in the media can claim Trump is a racist and Democrats can predict Republican legislation will end up killing thousands.
It would be nice, though, if the media held itself and Democrats to the same standard it applies to Trump.
Email Dan Fagan at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @DanFaganShow.