The only person responsible for shooting up a congressional baseball practice Wednesday in Alexandria, wounding a Republican congressman and several aides, is James Thomas Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Ill. He died of a gunshot wound, but it was brought on by the rage in Democratic ranks of Trump Derangement Syndrome.
He was a man consumed by politics. “I know he wasn’t happy with the way things were going, the election results and stuff,” his brother told The New York Times shortly after he got the news. The news, he said, came “totally out of the blue.” His brother, he said, “was engaged in politics but otherwise led a normal life.”
“Engaged in politics but otherwise led a normal life.” This is the coda for our times. Millions are consumed by politics, so unhappy with “the way things are going” that picking up a gun to make their point is regarded as the only recourse, but they “otherwise lead a normal life.”
Trump Derangement Syndrome leads to the obsession that every ill and annoyance of life is the work of Donald Trump, a traitor out to betray the nation to its enemies. Millions of Democrats, disappointed with the results of the 2016 elections, have built their lives around despising the president. It isn’t healthy for the republic, it isn’t healthy for those afflicted and it won’t be healthy for those who die at the hands of assassins.
The Alexandria assassin, slain at the site, seemed to have been obsessed with equal parts hatred of the president and devotion to Bernie Sanders. “He did not come off as a radical,” a friend in his hometown says of him. “He did not come off as an unstable individual. He wasn’t belligerent, he was just a kind of normal guy.”
Normal, but deranged. Mr. Hodgkinson’s “social media accounts” — Twitter, Facebook and the other instruments of the life of an obsession with trivia — showed him, observes The New York Times, “as deeply committed to liberal politics and distrustful of Republican-controlled Washington. In posts, he rails against Republicans, lavishes praise upon [Mr.] Sanders … and shows a deep engagement with the churn of news coming out of Washington.”
This is naturally a deep embarrassment for Democrats and particularly for the senator from Vermont, who is naturally against assassins and their grim work. “I am sickened by this despicable act,” Mr. Sanders said in the wake of the incident. “Let me be as clear as I can be. Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the clearest strongest possible terms.”
To be equally clear, Mr. Sanders is not responsible for what happened at the congressional baseball practice. To make that charge, as some partisans were quick to do on social media, is to betray a fundamental conservative principle, that there is no such thing as collective guilt. Every man is responsible for himself and the things he does.
But Bernie Sanders is part of those who spread the derangement, of making losing an election, with all the pain that goes with it, both science and art. The derangement he suffers carries over into how he conducts his Senate business. The senator, an atheist, declared he wouldn’t vote to confirm a Trump nominee for a trade post because he doesn’t approve of the nominee’s Christian faith, though the Constitution expressly forbids making a religious test a qualification for office.
Though neither Mr. Sanders nor any other Democrat is responsible for the attack on the Republican congressmen, but they are responsible for creating the current partisan climate, where anything goes in the crusade to destroy a duly elected and duly qualified president of the United States. Trump Derangement Syndrome will destroy everything we all hold holy and priceless unless political passions can be brought under control. The hour is late.
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