So, we have arrived at this point.
Now, if this had happened in some third world country, it would not be news.
We would say to someone who brought it up, “Don’t get upset… What do you expect from them?”
But in America?
The scene that took place on Tuesday in Congress will undoubtedly leave its mark on American history.
The President of the United States went to the House of Representatives to deliver the traditional State of the Union address.
The Speaker of the House, sitting behind the President and next to the Vice-President, stood up and extended her arm for a handshake.
The President turned his back on her, and she quickly pulled her hand away.
Traditionally, the Speaker says on such occasions: “Members of Congress, I have the high privilege and distinct honor of presenting to you, the President of the United States.’”
Instead, she said, “Members of Congress, the President of the United States.”
And at the end of his speech, she tore up her copy of it.
All of this was on live television and broadcast all over the world.
Afterwards, Democrats and Republicans, respectively, claimed ‘victory’ by posting these scenes on social media.
And yet, there are no winners. There are only losers. And the biggest loser of all was our country.
Civic conduct has been going downhill for a while. Disrespect for institutions, rudeness, the placing of personal interest over the common good and what is best for the country, had begun long before Tuesday night.
But it has taken on another dimension. If this scene was not unprecedented in the history of the country, at the very least it has not been seen for many decades.
Donald Trump has played a leading role in this – through his behavior, his indifference to the truth and his ceaselessly aggressive manner.
The scenes in Congress show, on the one hand, how toxic the political climate has become and, on the other, how this has affected the relationships among our country’s leadership.
And many others will copy their behavior.
As a result, the gaps in U.S. society are widening.
I have no doubt that in the long run, we will overcome this. That the country will return to its good state, as of old.
In the meantime though, damage has been done. Both within the country, and in terms of its international image.