Age of insanity for the left and the right

Do you feel that, like the COVID-19 pandemic, insane behavior is spreading like a plague? I do. Whether I look at the political right or the political left, I read, hear, and see accounts of people doing crazy, illogical things.

I’ll start with criticizing the left since I won’t lose the right in the process — at least until I get to the right’s insanity. There are more people statistically on the left, so I’m more likely to keep a larger audience, even if I lose a few in the process. (I’ve got to play the averages.)

The left, especially in regard to the Black Lives Matter movement, has been generally sane in their demand for ending racism in this country. The problem is, though, that the constant, day after day demonstrations in Portland verge on the insane.

The demonstrators who have marched to end discrimination against systemic racism have been generally peaceful, but there is a faction that seems bent on destroying and vandalizing property like the federal courthouse. The issue of ending racial injustice has been co-opted just like commercialism has co-opted Christmas.

The Federal government has the right and the duty to protect its property, since it is really our property paid for by U.S. taxpayers. Sending marshals to protect the property is a perfectly rational response to rioting. Setting up a fence around the building is also rational, although I wonder whether the building is being used for the purpose for which it was designed—to administer justice—in this time of demonstrations.

I also wonder how the violent demonstrators live since they have spent almost two months making and throwing Molotov cocktails, breaking windows, and spraying graffiti. They must be living on unemployment and the $600/week bonuses from the CARE Act. Did the demonstrations end when the bonus money ran out on July 31, or did the rioters save their money to continue into August? You’ll know by the time you read this. What do they actually want to change in the nation? Get rid of the courthouse or injure as many police as possible? It’s all insane from my vantage point.

Now for the right. Did what I wrote above make you agree with me? I’m one of you, right? No!

We have a president who has sent in federal forces dressed as Russian “little green men” with no insignias and with unmarked vans who roam the streets of Portland arresting people on dubious grounds. Certainly not probable cause. Besides being arguably unconstitutional on several levels, it has only served to stir up the rioters to riot and to destroy even more.

Why did the president do this? As I said in previous columns, the president’s sole goal since he took office 3.5 years ago has been to win re-election in November. All anyone has to do is listen to the president to know his motive. To deny what citizens can see is insane.

When I go to the grocery store, I see people who aren’t wearing masks. Why? Because they are making a political statement? Because they think COVID-19 is part of the left’s “fake news”? How much does it cost anyone to wear a mask and protect the health of others, if not yourself? Some conservatives have said there are no statistics to prove that wearing masks is effective to prevent the spread of COVID. So, should medical staff in hospitals not wear masks?

Why did the president sign an agreement last winter with the Chinese over trade? The trade war cost the U.S. up to $30 billion dollars in higher costs and caused losses for farmers—and farmers are some the president’s biggest supporters.

Why has the president acted to destroy Obamacare—in the midst of a pandemic? Why does he want to build a wall? It’s all to rally his supporters, although that number has diminished due to his mishandling of the pandemic. The numbers of Americans who now disapprove of the president’s handling of the spread of COVID-19 is up to 73 percent of independents, 60 percent overall.

When I read today’s news I’m astounded and saddened to see that insanity is growing on both sides of the political spectrum. I shake my head and hope the craziness of 2020 will end with the November elections and with the end of the year. I may be the one who is insane enough to believe that. I hope not.

Richard Elfers is a columnist, a former Enumclaw City Council member and a Green River College professor.