The question we all haven’t asked
By Matthew Fraser, Opinions Editor
It seems like people have embraced the idea of skipping over the debate stage and going straight to mob rule or governmental enforcement.
We all want to believe that we wish the best for our fellow humans. We all like to think that our vision of the world is inclusive and egalitarian, but far too often, our implementation requires crushing the opposition and enforcing our vision of morality on others. It seems like too many people don’t think their opposition can be convinced; it seems like people have embraced the idea of skipping over the debate stage and going straight to mob rule or governmental enforcement. Our society has allowed extremist ideas to flourish—we have embraced authoritarianism.
Most people don’t like to think of themselves as authoritarian but the way we have collectively split in our view of the government should tell us otherwise. Gone are the days when democracy meant compromise and equal representation in the halls of power. Now, the government is seen as a hammer with which to smash the “ne’er-do-wells” who stand in the way while our political champions fight over every election.
Take for instance what is seen as the long game of millions of conservatives: gaining a majority of Supreme Court seats to overturn Roe v. Wade. The original purpose of the Supreme Court was not to be held for life by one ideological side, but instead to be an impartial arbiter placed above the masses to ensure that laws were just and reflected the principles meant to unite a country. However, in transforming it into a new legislative arm that places and rearranges laws at the whim of the devout few, the Supreme Court has called into question its own legitimacy. Even here in Canada, with Prime Minister Trudeau’s gun ban neatly sidestepping our democratic process in order to punish legal gun owners for a crime committed after repeated governmental failures, the system of government has been used to push policies without the consent of the people.
Worse still, is that private companies have become extensions of this desire for societal control. Recently the much lauded by some and infamous to others, congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez took to Twitter to call for a database to be made of all those who worked in the Trump administration. Is it not authoritarian to threaten and attempt to freeze out and ostracize—both socially and professionally—the members of the opposition party? Are not these types of threats why we criticize dictators like Vladimir Putin as undemocratic and corrupt? Let’s consider this from another angle: if a Republican senator in the days after the 2016 election had called for a database to be made of all those who worked in the Obama administration or assisted Hillary Clinton, would we not all have gasped in horror and recoiled from such a threat?
Instead, AOC and many other public figures have revelled in the idea of punishing Trump and those who stood with him in the years to come; the court of public opinion was held, judgement passed, and a life sentence handed out. Don’t get me wrong, it is clear to me that crimes were in fact committed by the soon-to-be-former president Trump and his administration, but at what point are we crossing over from persecuting crimes to persecuting dissenting opinions? There should be lawsuits laid and charges pressed as necessary, but the mob dredging up names to freeze former interns and staffers out of life and continued work is unacceptable.
I know that there are many people who will look at punishing Trump and his supporters as just desserts but we can’t forget that what motivated many people to vote for Donald Trump was the thought of punishing the liberal elites who looked at them with disgust; we can keep following our baser instincts to punish those we disagree with and ram forward our agendas but we can forget that memory is long and chickens come home to roost. Continuing to hand power to the government while cultivating the fires of resentment is a recipe for society wide disaster.