Patsy Neal: Are our political parties now eating their own?

Republicans and Democrats punish their own members for speaking the truth and their own minds.

(Michael Cummo/The Wyoming Tribune Eagle via AP) Protesters hold anti-U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., signs during a rally Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021, outside the Wyoming State Capitol in Cheyenne.

It has been documented that some animals kill their young and eat them, or abandon them when they are weak or sick. While filial infanticide or filial cannibalism does exist in the animal world, I am wondering if it is not becoming a trait of humans.

Democrats and Republicans may not be eating their own in the physical sense, but they definitely are making the attempt to rid themselves of their own in other ways.

When Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema spoke out and voted against changing the filibuster, Arizona’s Democratic Party — her own party — censured her.

When Republican Rep. Liz Chaney told the truth about the Big Lie, she was shunned and removed from her leadership position in the House of Representatives — by her own party.

At Friday’s Republican National Committee meeting in Salt Lake City, members voted to censure Chaney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger. The reason: They have insisted on finding out, and telling, the truth about the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.

None of these individuals are weak or sick individuals such as animals neglect or abandon. They are stronger and healthier than most in their party. So what do these humans have in common with animals killing or abandoning their own?

They, too, have been abandoned and left to fend on their own against staggering odds. What animals have done by instinct, our political parties have done through deliberate thought process. Animals leave their offspring to predators and starvation, with little chance for survival. Republicans and Democrats leave their abandoned members struggling to survive — not only from predators, but re-election. Metaphorically, they have been left by their party parents to die politically, without support or nourishment.

Why would groups, such as political parties, desert individuals who are strong and healthy? Even animals don’t do this. There are many reasons, but the main answer may be that both animals and political parties value survival more than anything else. With animals, it is survival of the fittest. With political parties, it is survival of their agenda — regardless of how fit individuals are.

Animals don’t have morals. Humans should. Humans developed a value system over a period of time that would allow them not only to survive, but to function in a way that would ensure survival and civil social interaction. It was the willingness of humans in our country to work together for the common good that made us a great country.

Unfortunately, the moral value system that took hundreds of years to build up has almost crumbled in the last few years. Our political climate is such today that moral values hold little meaning when pitted against maintaining power. Consequently, when anyone does not follow the party line, or the party agenda, the party feels weakened, and immediately cuts that individual out — hoping to strengthen the group. When they separate the individual, either by censure, cutting off nourishment (funding and fellowship) or stripping them of committee assignments, they in effect are saying that individual is no longer valuable or wanted in their family group. They may not physically kill the individual, but they politically kill them.

The thing that bothers me as a U.S. citizen is that one of our basic freedoms — freedom of speech — is the catalyst that results in censoring and isolating strong individuals. Chaney, Sinema and Kinzinger verbally presented their beliefs in a civil way. I would think that freedom to think and freedom to speak would be valued in a free country — and in a political party.

The First Amendment of our Constitution says that “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech.”

Congress has not passed a law abridging the freedom of speech. It doesn’t have to. By censuring and removing individuals from leadership positions, they have restricted and curtailed freedom of speech within their party. When individuals, whether a member of the Democratic or Republican party, cannot speak out and express their views respectfully and publicly, it weakens us all. It is this freedom to speak and the freedom to follow our own conscience that has made this country one of the greatest on earth.

Voters need to decide what individuals in Congress speak for them, and which ones should survive to represent them and their values. It may determine the survival of our country as we know it.

Patsy Neal

Patsy Neal, Matthews, North Carolina, has eight books published, won four Freedom Foundation Awards, and is working on a book, “Ourselves, Our Country, Our Freedom.” She holds a master’s degree from the University of Utah, where she also taught health and physical education.