Tribalism in America reached a new low at the end of the State of the Union on February 4th. The Speaker of the House — the third most powerful elected official in the land — ripped up her copy of the State of the Union only seconds after President Trump finished delivering the speech.
Whatever else she meant to convey, one message was abundantly clear: America is split between two warring camps that want little or nothing to do with each other. She showed that America is tearing itself apart.
While many have praised her, the right response to Speaker Pelosi’s actions is sadness. By shredding the speech on live television, she essentially said that no part of it held merit, that no message it contained it was true or noble.
But she wasn’t just ripping pieces of paper. She was tearing apart the stories of people who deserve applause, attention, and action from both sides of the political aisle. Rarely will you see such a sad sign of how tribalism prevents people from recognizing what’s good and what needs to be done.
We’re talking about a 4th grader who’s struggling in bad schools and needs a way out.
We’re talking about the widow and son of a war hero who died because of an Iranian terrorist.
We’re talking about one of the last Tuskegee airmen, who flew for freedom and equality in the Second World War.
We’re talking about a family that was reunited after the husband’s deployment and a family that lost their young daughter at the hands of ISIS.
And yes, we’re talking about a mother and her beautiful 2-year-old girl, who was born at only 21 weeks. They are proof that every child is a blessing, and that abortion has no placed in a civilized, just society.
Their story in particular shows how tribalism warps not only our politics, but our politicians. While the House floor erupted in applause at the mention of the young girl, Ellie, and her mom, Robin, Speaker Pelosi and the left side of the aisle stayed silent and still only moments later when President Trump called for a ban on late-term abortions. Ellie, after all, was born at an age when she could have been killed in an abortion clinic.
How does this example especially show the danger of tribalism? It matters because Nancy Pelosi is a Catholic. She professes to be a member of a Church that says abortion is a “moral evil,” a teaching that “has not changed and remains unchangeable.” In her rush to be a good member of her tribe, the Democratic Party, Speaker Pelosi is running away from her own religion.
You don’t have to be Catholic to see that this is bad. A member of any Church typically believes that God comes before country, and certainly before party politics. Yet in her rush to be tribal, Speaker Pelosi has inverted that hierarchy. The Democratic Party and its policies come first, and religion comes later, or maybe never. Why be a member of a church at all if your electoral fortunes trump what you also claim is the transcendent? Tribalism turns people’s priorities upside down, to the detriment of society.
Clearly, I wish that Speaker Pelosi, and every Democrat, would heed the President’s call to ban late-term abortion and defend all innocent life. Yet along with millions of Americans, I also hope that she recognizes the reality of her tribal tantrum on Tuesday night. It spoke to a larger cancer in our body politic, one that devalues humanity and undermines reason in the name of partisan posturing.
That’s not good for America or anyone in our country, least of all Nancy Pelosi.
Tim Busch is the founder of the Napa Institute, a
Catholic lay organization.
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Bravo, well said.