BY BRENNEN AMONETT – STAFF WRITER
Several weeks ago, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin called upon the people of this country to make a sacrifice. A sacrifice that derives its historic and nationalistic relevance from the words of Thomas Jefferson, a founding father of a country economically and culturally oppressed by a nation across the sea, that sought expansion at the price of others’ livelihood. “The tree of liberty,” Thomas said, “must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Jefferson witnessed the exploitation of people who desired independence that could only be granted by violent means; bloodshed was the last available option for the colonists in 1776 that could not escape the strangling grip of a tyrannical imperialist motherland.
Let me begin by stating that that situation is not the position our country is in today-unless you use the same misinformed lenses through which Matt Bevin studies the state of our nation.
At the Value Voter Summit in Washington on September 10, Governor Bevin brought Jefferson’s quote to mind when discussing the current political climate. Bevin, who has compared himself to Donald Trump in terms of their business backgrounds and unapologetic commitment to their beliefs, considers Trump “by far and away the most qualified candidate” for the presidency. A brief discussion on the two presidential candidates led him to address the possibility of a necessary bloodletting depending on who takes the office.
Bevin brought up the question of whether or not the United States will be able to ‘survive’ if Hillary Clinton were elected president. It could, he said, but it would come with a price. It was at this point the governor considered the lives of his children, and how their blood may need to be shed in order to “redeem something that we, through our apathy and indifference, have given away.”
The sitting governor of the state of Kentucky offered war as a means to combat a possible outcome of a democratic election.
Sadly, this type of behavior should come as no surprise to anyone aware of Donald Trump’s inflammatory comments directed towards protesters, foreign nations, and Secretary Clinton herself. Multiple instances have shown that Mr. Trump is fanning the flame of a violence-driven limb of the broken body of the Tea Party movement. This was a movement that was crumbling after President Obama’s reelection in 2012, but has since reemerged on the political spectrum, in large part due to Trump’s careless comments that promote a more ominously prophetic attitude towards the upcoming election. The warnings of impending doom were popular amongst the Tea Party movement during the 2012 election, but the apocalypse they foresaw has yet to manifest itself in any tangible crisis. I can’t rationally imagine the outcome of this election will be much different in that regard, but the melodramatics surrounding the fateful date, November 8, continue to circulate.
According to Governor Bevin after the fact, his statement was simply misconstrued. Bevin insists that he was only referring to the price men and women in uniform pay when defending American interests overseas-specifically with the rise of “radical Islamic extremists,” as he called them.
However, Bevin’s excuse does not seem to match the tone of his speech at all. If he were truly talking about the sacrifices made by the military overseas, how exactly does that translate to the necessity of fighting based on the outcome of this election? The implications behind these two possible messages-one a patriotic homage, the other a threatening battle cry-is determined by the context that surrounds the original claim. In a speech that had very little to say about the military, Bevin’s “clarified” statement clashes with the very clear message he was trying to deliver: the blood of patriots will be the price paid to “water the roots of the tree of liberty” alongside the blood of a tyrannical Democratic Party administration.
Doubling back in defense has gone hand in hand with outrageous assertions throughout this election season. Trump has been forced to clarify asides concerning what “the second amendment people” can do to prevent Clinton from picking Supreme Court Justices, or exactly how he can justify encouraging his supporters to “knock the crap out of [protesters,]” and assuring them he’ll “pay for the legal fees.” Perhaps another similarity Governor Bevin should be proud to share with Donald Trump is their tendency towards alienation and disunity.
The ever-widening gap in the American political system, spurred by hateful partisan divides, is tearing democracy apart at the seams. Formal debates, reasonable competition, and hopeful campaigning move our nation forward – not argumentative ignorance, unnecessary violence, or bitter defamation. Both sides of the spectrum are guilty of these tactics. Both sides are to blame for the pointless taboo on political discussion in the public forum. Both sides are responsible for fixing what we, as a nation of autonomous individuals, have broken.
As I began with a quote from a founding father, I will leave you with another. This one more relevant than the first. More palpable, more pertinent. In his farewell address on September 19, 1796, George Washington reminded his new nation of this: “If, in the opinion of the people, the distribution or modification of the Constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed.”