Trump Isn’t First To Demonize A Political Opponent, But Should Be The Last

New York Democrats shouldn’t gloat too loudly in the aftermath of President Donald Trump’s repugnant tweet last week telling four liberal freshman Congresswomen to go back where they came from.

It wasn’t long ago that state Democrats were cringing when Gov. Andrew Cuomo made an equally repugnant statement that conservatives had no place in New York state. Back in January 2014, the governor told an Albany-area television program that conservative Republicans — specifically anyone who is pro-traditional marriage, pro-life or pro-guns — “have no place in the state of New York.”

“Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay? Is that who they are? Because if that’s who they are and they’re the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are,” the governor said.

Cuomo walked back his comments, saying they referred to elected politicians working on statewide policy and that moderate Republicans had earned a place at the governing table.

The point in dredging up Cuomo’s past comments is this — we have a long history of intolerance in our politics. All it takes is Google to remember Democrats making the same types of comments that prod their current righteous indignation against the president. Suggesting opponents should leave the country or state is not the way policy disagreements should be handled. As we said last week in this space, Americans have historically agreed to disagree in these matters because most reasonable people see these controversies for what they are — honest, patriotic differences of opinion about how to achieve our national or state goals. Whether it was Hillary Clinton saying President Trump’s supporters belong in a “basket of deplorables” or Cuomo saying there isn’t a place for conservatives in New York state or President Trump saying liberals should go back to where they came from, such language is repugnant. It has no place in our political discourse. Such comments are a juicy sound bite that score political points with one’s supporters, but end up making it harder to find valuable middle ground on important legislation and social issues.

All we have proven over the last couple of weeks is that both Democrats and Republicans need to walk back from the edge of the abyss. President Trump was wrong. That much is clear. He’s not the first to publicly demonize his opposition, but we hope he is the last.