With just more than a week to go until the important midterm elections, Republicans and Democrats are in a rush to attract voters to their side. While Nov. 6, 2018, was always going to be a pivotal day in President Trump's first term, the volume has been turned up in the past two months.
This week, the drama seemed to reach a fever pitch as the nation watched at least 12 package bombs arrive at the offices of various Democratic politicians and media targets. Thankfully, no one was hurt. Immediately, speculation grew about the perpetrator, who we now believe to be 56-year-old Cesar Sayoc, reportedly a registered Republican with a Florida address and a fairly extensive criminal history.
Before Friday's arrest and even in the hours since, casual observers and pundits from all perspectives are focusing on how political affiliation may have played a part in Sayoc's motivations. Surely, the man's pro-Trump social media means President Trump is at fault? Naturally, his 2016 voter registration of GOP indicates he was given a directive to terrorize Trump's opponents? As with most generalizations, these ones are nonsense. But they will only continue.
As far as we know, Sayoc acted alone in his plot to potentially harm others who exist on the opposite side of the political spectrum. More concerning than his political affiliation and a frenzied Twitter page is his extreme indifference for his fellow man. That should be the focus for both Republican and Democrats in the days ahead.
When incidents of this magnitude occur, our first impulse is to either quickly connect it to our opponents or, if the suspect is closer to us ideologically, to distance ourselves as far from it as possible. But separate any direct connection to politicians and their commands, do the political leanings of a lunatic existing on the fringe matter much at all?
There should be no doubt that only the person responsible for such premeditated attempts at terror is the suspect. When it comes to culpability for illegal actions, focus on the actual criminal. But both the Left and the Right have trouble with such logic because they're too busy pointing fingers.
Ahead of the midterm elections, Democrats will continue to use Cesar Sayoc and his actions as proof that, overall, Republicans are violent, hateful people and should not be supported at the ballot box. On the other hand, Republicans will work to distant themselves from someone who is reportedly one of their own and may even dismiss the story. These unhealthy options miss the mark entirely.
Using the isolated deeds of an obvious madman to make a point about your political enemies is extreme and careless. American voters and the major political parties they pledge allegiance to should be better than that. We must demand it.
Our feelings about what has occurred in the past week should never change, for better or for worse, when filtered through the politics of the perpetrator. Even if the story shifts and our adversaries are given some sort of narrative advantage, our conclusions should not.
Kimberly Ross (@SouthernKeeks) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog and a senior contributor at RedState.com.