A common talking point – though it’s mostly echoed by conservatives and people who don’t follow politics all that closely – is that “both sides are just as bad.” It’s the premise that things largely don’t get done in Washington because politicians are too partisan and don’t really care about the people anyway, regardless of where they fall on the political spectrum.
It usually works as either a way to get out of an argument without taking a side, or as a last ditch effort to win the argument when all of your own talking points have fallen flat. Of course, conservatives rarely if ever believe it, no matter how often they say it – because they’ll usually always vote Republican at the end of the day.
Lately, however, the distinction between the two sides has become clearer than at nearly any time in recent history – as much of the GOP struggles to prop up Donald Trump’s presidency at all costs – no matter how blatantly racist and authoritarian his policies may be. As we learn more about the appalling conditions inside the immigrant concentration camps by the day, Trump and his fellow Republicans like to blame the Democrats for the mess, but Wednesday was an example of why that argument no longer holds much weight.
After touring the camps, House Democrats passed legislation to improve health and safety conditions – requiring that the facilities provide adequate amounts of food and water for detainees and perform routine checkups. The bill passed by a 233-195 vote, supported unanimously by House Democrats. But only a single Republican, Rep. Don Young of Alaska, voted in favor of treating immigrants with basic dignity.
The bill was a basic step in the right direction, but even a bill against overcrowding at the camps was too risky for most Republicans. We’ll see if Mitch McConnell brings this to the Senate floor for a vote – but should he refuse, he will highlight the key difference between the two parties – and McConnell’s party is the one that believes preserving its own power is more important than human life.
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and an advocate of science-based policy making