As the old trope goes, two wrongs don’t make a right.
This lesson seems to have been lost on Congress.
To wit, Mitch McConnell is hellbent on rushing through the confirmation hearings for Donald Trump’s cabinet and administration team. This year, McConnell is suddenly deeply concerned about ensuring that the Senate follows a speedy process, allegedly in order to smooth the transition and help Trump’s team get an early start on their plans and projects. This, however, is in direct contrast to McConnell’s feelings in 2009, when he wrote to Senator Harry Reid demanding that the usual process and all regular standards be followed when it came to vetting President Obama’s nominees. McConnell even went so far as to threaten a filibuster. So, although McConnell wanted to move at a glacier pace when it came to Obama’s nominations, he sees no problem whatsoever in rushing through Trump’s nominations, despite the fact that The Office of Government Ethics has sounded the alarm bells, noting that “plans to confirm Donald Trump’s top Cabinet choices before background examinations are complete are unprecedented and have overwhelmed government investigators responsible for the reviews.” So, confirmation hearings will progress speedily, even though background checks have yet to be completed. (McConnell claims that “he will not allow votes on President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees until those individuals’ ethics paperwork is complete,” but if that’s the case, then what’s the rush?)
In another example of willful amnesia, McConnell has mocked Democrats for possibly even thinking about maybe trying to delay any hearings on any of Trump’s potential Supreme Court nominees. Just this past week, McConnell said that, “Apparently there’s yet a new standard now, which is to not confirm a Supreme Court nominee at all. … I think that’s something the American people simply will not tolerate, and we’ll be looking forward to receiving a Supreme Court nomination and moving forward on it.” This is supremely laughable, coming after McConnell and the Republicans spent the past year refusing to even meet with President Obama’s SCOTUS nominee, Judge Merrick Garland. McConnell et al.’s cynical move has left a vacancy on the Supreme Court for nearly a year, one of the longest vacancies on the Court in U.S. history. McConnell didn’t seem to mind ignoring the Garland nomination, but he will not stand for it if Democrats treat any Trump nominees with the same disdain.
McConnell and the Republicans justify their actions by invoking what they call “The Biden Rule” or by pointing to other past behavior by Democrats which they see as spurious or underhanded. This childish argument does not seem to faze voters, who back their elected officials without batting an eye, even cheering them on when those elected officials call a spade a spade—as long as that spade is a member of the opposite party.
This smacks of nothing less than trying to make two wrongs a right.
And the examples are endless:
- Trump and his sycophants calling out Hillary Clinton and The Clinton Foundation when his eponymous Trump Foundation was being investigated for various misdeeds and allegedly illegal conduct.
- Trump and his acolytes lambasting Clinton for making paid speeches to Goldman Sachs while nominating at least four Goldman Sachs executives for the Trump administration.
- Trump mocking Clinton for avoiding the press and going as long as 275 days without a press conference, even though Trump himself has now gone 167 days without a press conference and has cancelled several scheduled press conferences.
Of course, Trump and the Trumpsters aren’t the only politicians who have tried to right wrongs with another wrong. The Democrats are writhing in agony over the Senate filibuster, which Harry Reid eliminated in 2013—a move the left is now regretting. Too, Democrats who lauded President Obama’s liberal use of Executive Orders are sweating in a panic over the possibility of a President Trump also making liberal use of Executive Orders—and chances are they’ll complain just as loudly as Republicans have for the past eight years.
“Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that
‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’”
On both sides of the aisle, politicians have banked on the ignorance of the electorate and turned hypocrisy into an art. It’s absolutely stunning. The lies, the about-faces, the name-calling—we don’t let our children behave in this way, yet we keep voting into office the same hypocrites who care only about power. Perhaps I’m being willfully amnesiac myself, but it seems to me that the hypocrisy has gotten worse, so much worse, in fact, that I’m truly starting to wonder whether McConnell has Alzheimer’s. Maybe he’s been hit in the head or something, because the things he’s been saying today are the complete opposite of the things he said just yesterday (metaphorically speaking). It’s astonishing how brazenly McConnell and his ilk just say stuff that they know to be wrong.
But, politicians have mastered the art of turning wrongs into rights. They deny that the sky is blue on a perfectly clear, sunny day. They deny tweeting tweets even when faced with copies of those very tweets. They deny saying stupid things even when confronted with video of those very stupid things.
And we voters just let it slide.
We give a pass to those elected officials we support.
We complain about but then ultimately ignore those elected officials we voted against.
And in doing so, we let politicians keep trying to make two wrongs a right.
It is time to start wronging the wrongs.
“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”
—Franklin D. Roosevelt
We cannot allow this blatant hypocrisy to stand. We must educate ourselves. Republican, Democrat, or Independent, we must call-out those politicians who ply us with lie after lie after lie. We have to tell them that they are wrong. We have to tell them that enough is enough. We have to tell them that it doesn’t matter what the Democrats did; if it was wrong for them, it’s wrong for the Republicans. We have to tell them that we will not allow them to use the other party’s behavior as an excuse for their own bad behavior. If bad behavior was wrong for the Democrats, it’s also wrong for the Republicans. We have to tell our politicians that it no longer matters who was wrong first.
The same goes for we the people. The name-calling and ugliness on social media really needs to stop. If we tell our children that it’s wrong to call each other names, then it’s also wrong for us to call each other names. If we tell our coworkers that it’s wrong to bully people, then it’s also wrong for us to bully people. No matter what the venue—virtual or real—we cannot keep justifying our own wrongs by pointing to the wrongs committed by other people.
By trying to justify our own wrongs by pointing to the wrongs committed by our opponents, we have regressed into childish, churlish behavior. By trying to one-up each other, we have become mired in a vicious circle of ugliness. By trying to out-game each other, we have sunk into a quagmire of dysfunction.
It’s disgusting. Politicians’ obvious power-grabbing merely for the sake of hanging on to power is disgusting. Our own blind adherence to, our own unquestioning support of, our own obsequious loyalty to politicians who commit so many wrongs is disgusting.
“Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision.
If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds,
then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”
Unless we want to spend the next four years or longer sitting on our blisters, it’s time to start wronging the wrongs. It’s time to sit up, stand up, and call-out politicians when they try to make two wrongs a right. It’s time to call-out each other when we post or tweet or otherwise blather complete bullcrap. It’s time to question each other, to question the baloney that politicians spout, that wingnuts write, the propagandists spew, that talking heads utter. Lies are lies. Wrongs are wrongs. Saying something aloud over and over doesn’t suddenly make it true or right.
We can decide whether we will let slide all the wrongs committed by politicians.
We can decide whether we will let slide all the wrongs uttered by paid talking heads.
We can decide whether we will let slide all the wrongs published by propagandists.
In this era of fake news and post-truth and political propaganda and wingnut “news” sites, it is our responsibility to wrong the wrongs, to challenge the obfuscation, to call-out the hypocrisy. We cannot let politicians—or each other—get away with trying to make a right out of two wrongs. It doesn’t matter who was wrong first. It’s time to stop giving a pass to to those we support even when they do things or say things that are wrong.
“You’re not to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality.
Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it.”
If as patriots we wish to live in a better world, a world where two wrongs don’t make a right, then it’s up to us to make the world a better place.
I am committed to making the world a better place, one right at a time. I will call-out wrongs. I will contact my Senators and Representatives to let them know when they’ve gone too far, when they’ve succumbed to blatant political gamesmanship, when they’ve tried to make a right out of two wrongs. I will call-out those who propagandize and proselytize without questioning the facts, without questioning the sources, without questioning reality. I will do what I can to wrong the wrongs.
Will you join me?