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Democrats have been up in arms over Republicans in Wisconsin forcing voters to the polls during a pandemic. And they’re right. What the Republicans did is an outrage. The GOP needs to take responsibility for this atrocity and the many others they commit that destroy lives and livelihoods every day.

take responsibility

But Democrats need to stop blaming Republicans for their own multitude of failures. It’s not the GOP’s fault that Democrats don’t push for fare-free public transit. It’s not the GOP’s fault that Democrats don’t ban fracking. It’s not the GOP’s fault that Democrats don’t demand ranked choice voting.

People in recovery learn that they must stop blaming others for the problems in their lives. They must accept their part in those failures.

As a gay man excommunicated by the Mormon Church for coming out, I heard friends and family tell me for years that AIDS was the natural result of sin. Sure, gay men were free to sin if we chose, but we weren’t free to escape the consequences of our actions. We were responsible and no one else.

So I watch in amazement as conservative religious leaders insist on gathering large congregations in the midst of a pandemic. They have freedom of religion, they insist defiantly. They have faith in God. Atheists are just trying to persecute them by banning large groups. “Christians aren’t afraid of dying,” we hear them say.

Most Christian religions, though, frown on suicide. Gambling, too. I would think Russian roulette falls under at least one of those proscriptions.

If making the conscious decision to abort a fetus is a mortal sin, isn’t making the conscious choice to behave in a manner known to spread a deadly pathogen? Sure, Pastor Bill didn’t put a gun to Grandma’s head and pull the trigger, but wouldn’t it still be a sin to pour cyanide into a community’s water supply, even if he didn’t target Grandma specifically?

The Las Vegas shooter wasn’t aiming at a specific person. He just sprayed death randomly into the crowd, killing 58 people and injuring hundreds more.

When parents complain that schools in poor neighborhoods are given fewer resources, conservatives accuse them of blaming others for their own circumstances. Poor folks are poor, conservatives say, because they have a bad work ethic, because they don’t apply themselves in school, because they waste their money on cell phones. Society as a whole isn’t responsible for the poor, they insist. Conservatives certainly aren’t responsible. Poor people have no one to blame but themselves. The sooner they take responsibility for their lives, the sooner they’ll achieve success.

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And yet conservatives have no problem when President Trump constantly refuses to accept responsibility for any of his administration’s failures regarding the pandemic. First, he says the coronavirus isn’t a problem. It’s being overstated by Democrats who want to attack him. Then he says it is a problem, and he’s said so all along. Then he says China lied and didn’t tell him about the problem. Then he says the problem isn’t so bad and he wants to open up businesses and churches by Easter. Then he says we’re facing one of the worst crises in our country’s history. Then he says the lack of testing and masks and ventilators is the CDC’s fault, Obama’s fault, the fault of governors, the fault of medical personnel. Then he says he’s made sure hospitals have what they need. Then he blames the WHO for not alerting him in time to prevent the virus from becoming a problem in the U.S.

It’s always someone else’s fault. Conservatives don’t believe in taking responsibility for their actions.

They do believe, however, that poor people are responsible for their problems. They believe gay people are responsible. Women impregnated by rapists are responsible. Refugees fleeing violence in their home countries are responsible. Students racking up forty thousand dollars in debt are responsible. People who lose their health insurance when their jobs are terminated are responsible.

Corporations, of course, are not responsible. Banks aren’t responsible. The wealthy aren’t responsible.

The Democratic National Committee blames Bernie supporters for Hillary Clinton’s loss in 2016. They blame Comey. They blame Putin. They blame the Electoral College. They blame young people who didn’t vote. They refuse to accept responsibility for barring Sanders supporters during the primary. Worse, they refuse to accept responsibility for nominating a candidate who wasn’t offering what voters wanted. That might not have been Sanders, but it certainly wasn’t Clinton.

The DNC’s presumptive nominee in 2020 is Joe Biden. If he doesn’t win the general election, the DNC will blame Bernie supporters again. They’ll blame Russia. They’ll blame the Electoral College. They’ll blame COVID-19.

Whatever the reason, it won’t be because they chose to push a lackluster candidate without the vision necessary to solve problems like equal access to healthcare and education. It won’t be because they chose not to address systemic racism or tackle the climate crisis head on

People in recovery learn that they must stop blaming others for the problems in their lives. They must accept their part in those failures. They understand that making amends is part of recovery. And they know they can rely on one another to get through the hard times.

Democrats have no control over what Republicans do or don’t do. They only have control over their own choices. If they want to regain power to shape society, they must stop blaming others for their inadequate platform and instead offer the people of this country what they need.

Johnny Townsend

Johnny Townsend