Sometimes, I’ll hear or see people fall back on “well, both sides are just as bad” during a political discussion.
I think some do it because they want to cling to some vision of a better past in American politics, one that never existed in the way they think it did (Thomas Zimmer of Georgetown University has written about how nostalgia like this is weaponized). We hear about “polarization” and “politicization,” as if these are problems created by both sides when if you believed that COVID was politicized, then you also must have thought your doctor was politicized, because they likely sounded much more like a liberal than a conservative when giving you COVID advice.
I’ve been asking people who believe that this “both sides are just as bad” thinking is the most reasoned for some equivalent examples by Democrats/the left of actions and statements by Republicans/the right. You see, reason needs reality and fact, and if both sides are truly just as bad, there should be equivalency for most of the terrible things the right has done since Trump rose as a candidate. Right?
Therefore, I always ask such folks for some equivalency. What follows are some examples that perhaps you yourself can try to ask that relative or friend who comes back at you with “well Democrats are as bad”:
Give me an example of the Democrat/liberal equivalent of…
- A leading presidential primary candidate openly mocking a disabled person and still winning his party’s nomination
- A major party presidential candidate bragging on tape about sexual assault
- A sitting Congressperson alluding that her political opponents should be shot
- Mass shootings carried out by right-wing individuals inspired by their beliefs (yes yes, the Congressional baseball practice shooting was carried out by a liberal but there have been multiple carried out by right-wingers since then, and multiple before)
- Pushing through large-scale book bannings
- Praising Hitler multiple times
- Attempting a violent coup
- Quite possibly helping to plan that violent coup
- Lying on a level never seen before by a president
- A Congressperson tweeting a video made by a staff member and talking about how great it is, and the video shows you killing political rivals, including the president
- Even the people generally considered to be “reasoned” in your party are anti-democracy
- A president’s violent rhetoric to his followers about the free press so alarms the United Nations they speak up about it
- Supporters who make political statements that are extremely violent and promote killing political opponents, and they are not considered fringe, but an important part of the base
- Stepping over long-agreed lines for political reasons, breaking traditions that enabled the system to work much better than it is now.
- Have elected members openly supporting war crimes by a dictator.
That’s just a start. I have many more.
The last word goes to Dr. John.