OPINION: I was attacked on a baseball field for my political beliefs, and Democrats are wrong to promote violence.
June 14, 2017, was the worst day of my life. It was the day I faced my own mortality at the hands of a shooter who was so enraged and blinded by his own political beliefs that he turned to violence as a means of retribution.
The day began early with colleagues gathered for our normal practice, away from the demands of the Capitol, in preparation for the annual Congressional Baseball Game for Charity. In a split second, both practice and our fellowship ended. Shots rang out across the field, and several were wounded. The only thing that prevented all of us from being killed was the courage of two Capitol police officers who stopped the gunman.
I will never forget that day, and for people like Majority Whip Steve Scalise, it's an event he lives with every day as he struggles to walk again.
Though most of our physical wounds have now healed, we continue to be challenged by Democratic leaders intentionally inciting a violent and mob-like mentality from their followers. With this toxic outlook, it is only a matter of time before this type of politically motivated attack happens again. This is simply not acceptable because next time, the targets may not be as lucky as we were.
As a survivor of such violence that was directly targeted at Republicans, I was disgusted on Wednesday when a video was released of former Attorney General Eric Holder rousing his fellow Democrats at a political rally saying, "When [Republicans] go low, we kick them." It is this very idea — the call to violence as an act of political discord — that keeps me awake at night. This harmful rhetoric has become the premeditated brainchild of Democratic leadership, and sadly, this is not an isolated incident.
Recently, the nation also heard Sen. Cory Booker plead for activists to "get up in the face of some congresspeople," and Rep. Maxine Waters call for her supporters to harass members of the Trump administration. Furthermore, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined the liberal mob and said that you "cannot be civil" with Republicans. It is exactly this type of divisiveness that threatens not only the very foundation of our country, but also its future. What will become of our democracy if we refuse to be civil with those we disagree with?
Our great nation simply cannot and should not accept the strategies of a fractured political party so determined to destroy its counterpart that it will unapologetically threaten and turn to physical violence as a means of motivation for its activists and supporters. It is time for Americans to take a stand against those who would foster such violence and hate. It is time for our country to make drastic strides toward civility.
Our country deserves better, and we must demand leaders who can raise us to a higher standard and a brighter tomorrow.
One year ago, as I lay in that dugout praying for my life while gunshots rang out all around me, I knew that my life would never be the same. I knew if I survived, I would use every remaining day God gave me to serve others, and that is exactly what I am trying to do in Washington.
We're all in a position to make real change in this country, but we will never get there when unstable government leaders are harboring violence. It's time to put down the fists and start shaking hands.