According to Psychology Today:
The broken windows theory states that visible signs of disorder and misbehavior in an environment encourage further disorder and misbehavior, leading to serious crimes. The principle was developed to explain the decay of neighborhoods, but it is often applied to work and educational environments.
Carroll Quigley once wrote:
“The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can throw the rascals out at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy. Then it should be possible to replace it, every four years if necessary, by the other party, which will be none of these things but will still pursue, with new vigor, approximately the same basic policies.”
The Carroll Quigley quote explains why the election of Donald Trump in 2016 was such a problem for the uni-party in Washington, D.C. The broken windows theory explains some of what has happened to our political rhetoric in the past four years.
The disorder and misbehavior began when Donald Trump came down the escalator and announced that he was running for President. That was the root.
On January 21, 2017, during the Women’s March protesting the election of President Trump, Madonna stated that she “thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House.” Later she claimed that was simply a metaphor. There was a time when that statement would have alerted the Secret Service.
In 2017 Kathy Griffin posted a picture of herself holding what appeared to be the severed head of President Trump. Again, in another time the Secret Service would have been called.
In 2017 a Trump look-alike was stabbed to death in a New York City Shakespeare in the Park production. Again, where was the Secret Service?
In the past, the Secret Service would have been called in these incidents simply to make clear that this is unacceptable behavior. Instead, a large section of Americans accepted it as routine.
In June of 2018, Maxine Waters stated, “Let’s make sure we show up wherever we have to show up. And if you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere. We’ve got to get the children connected to their parents.” Again, there was no penalty for this statement.
In June of 2018, Sarah Sanders was asked to leave a restaurant because she was a member of the Trump administration. When did this become acceptable?
The most recent example of unacceptable rhetoric comes from Michigan Democratic State Rep. Cynthia Johnson. Representative Johnson recently stated, “So this is just a warning to you Trumpers. Be careful, walk lightly, we ain’t playing with you. Enough of the shenanigans. Enough is enough. And for those of you who are soldiers, you know how to do it. Do it right, be in order, make them pay,” Her current term of office ends on December 31, 2020. She has been removed from her committee assignments. However, since she only has three more weeks to serve, that seems a rather lame response.
So now that the broken windows crowd has eliminated political civility, what do we do to remedy the situation? The first thing we need to do is recognize that the current mainstream media is a combination of lies and cover-ups. Those lies and those cover-ups need to be exposed and there need to be consequences for the liars. There are already some consequences for those lies–viewer are migrating to NewsMax in droves from Fox News after having migrated in droves to Fox News from CNN and MSNBC. While we are at it, we need equal enforcement of our laws. Why are the people who violated the civil rights of many of the people in the Trump campaign and the Trump transition team still walking around free? Why did Hillary Clinton walk free after doing something multiple times that a submarine sailor got put in jail for doing once? Why is lying to Congress okay if you are a Democrat?
America can go back to being the civil society many of us grew up in. It just takes being willing to stand up and fight when statements are made that cross the line of civility. We need to stop the broken windows before we have total disorder.