Last night there was another one of the countless, petty incidents that are roiling polarized America. Mike Pence went to see the musical “Hamilton” on Broadway, the crowd loudly booed him, and then the cast (as he was apparently leaving) gathered on stage to declare that they were “alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir.”
It would be far easier to credit such angry booing, or to empathize with the cast’s no-doubt heartfelt (though ill-informed) plea for respect for civil liberties if we didn’t know that the same cast and audience would almost certainly be overjoyed to welcome a president-elect Hillary Clinton into the theater. Yet in reading the tidal wave of anger sweeping over liberal America, there is not nearly enough appreciation for the role they played in this extraordinarily contentious election.
The Democratic party served to America – with the full cooperation of its elite and much of its celebrity base – a thoroughly corrupt candidate with a decades-long record of dishonesty and duplicity. She mishandled the nation’s secrets, used her family foundation to run a secretive, high-dollar pay-to-play scam, and advanced a platform that would have trampled the First Amendment rights of millions of Americans. Her one ideological consistency was relentless, extremist support for abortion rights.
I see why my Democratic friends supported her as (in their opinion) the better of two bad options, but the sometimes-shrieking and always-righteous indignation against her opponents is overwrought, to say the least. In reality, such conduct represents the flip-side of the Trump partisans they thoroughly despise – willing to overlook manifold failures in basic character and integrity to achieve the ideological outcomes they want – including ideological outcomes that would directly impair the “inalienable rights” to free speech and free exercise of religion of their fellow Americans. That’s the moral high ground?
In this case, naked partisanship only serves to alienate Americans from what is truly a magnificent work of art. “Hamilton” has connected a new generation of Americans to the principles and story of our nation’s founding. Now, many of their fellow citizens will identify the musical’s stars as just one more group of condescending liberals, completely oblivious to values and beliefs different from their own. Too bad. The show – and its stars – are better than they showed last night.