Political discourse has come such a far distance in only ten years, and tragically, the journey has taken us to a destination which was neither foreseeable, nor desirable. Alexander Soros, son of billionaire George Soros and deputy chairman of the Open Society Foundations, wrote feelingly in the New York Times today about the new normal of demonizing one’s political opponents. Soros reflected on how principles used to prevail over partisanship, exemplified by how in 2008, Senator John McCain “rebuffed his own supporters during the 2008 election to patriotically defend his opponent, Mr. Obama — all because he believed that the health of our democracy was more important than his personal political gain.”
The incident in question involved a woman who said to McCain that she didn’t trust Obama because he was an “Arab” and inferred terrorist ties, and McCain replied, “No, that’s not true. He’s a good man.” It was a shining moment for McCain and one not likely to be reenacted by any Republican candidate any time soon, and certainly not by Donald Trump. Soros addressed the change in the national discourse from civil and patriotic to not only divisive, but downright dirty.
But with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, things got worse. White supremacists and anti-Semites like David Duke endorsed his campaign. Mr. Trump’s final TV ad famously featured my father; Janet Yellen, chairwoman of the Federal Reserve; and Lloyd Blankfein, chairman of Goldman Sachs — all of them Jewish — amid dog-whistle language about “special interests” and “global special interests.” A genie was let out of the bottle, which may take generations to put back in, and it wasn’t confined to the United States.
In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán launched an anti-Semitic poster campaign falsely accusing my father of wanting to flood Hungary with migrants. This included plastering my father’s face onto the floor of trams in Budapest so that people would walk on it, all to serve Mr. Orbán’s political agenda.
Now we have attempted bomb attacks. While the responsibility lies with the individual or individuals who sent these lethal devices to my family home and Mr. Obama’s and Ms. Clinton’s offices, I cannot see it divorced from the new normal of political demonization that plagues us today.
Former CIA Director John Brennan was targeted, the building in Miami where Debbie Wasserman Schulz’ office is located was evacuated due to a bomb threat, Eric Holder received a package, the Time Warner Building was evacuated, Obama, Clinton, so on and so forth, all since George Soros received his mail bomb on Monday. The White House of course was duly contrite but the elephant in the room remains unaddressed and unchanged: if Trump is going to keep chants of “Lock her up” ringing at his rallies, and keeps admiring Greg Gianforte for body slamming a reporter (“My kind of guy!”) the lunatic fringe is going to stay inflamed. And we’re going to have more trouble like this, and predictably, more tragedies. Trump needs.to.stop. Now.