“He is all about winning.”
Michael Cohen made that statement to the House Oversight Committee Wednesday. It was an indictment of the actions of the president.
It doesn’t really matter if you believe Cohen or not. It doesn’t matter if you support President Trump or not.
Because Cohen’s statement doesn’t have to start and stop with Trump.
Right now, everyone is all about winning.
The American political landscape has degenerated into a kind of ultimate fighting. If MMA cage matches are a no-holds-barred attempt to physically dominate your opponent inside a squared circle, a congressional committee hearing has become something similar — a way to use words, perspectives, agendas, spin-doctoring and legal artistry to be the last man standing.
And the casualty is not the person being faced. It’s not Nancy Pelosi or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It’s not Sarah Huckabee Sanders or Kellyanne Conway. It’s not Mitch McConnell and it’s not Chuck Schumer. It’s no one who is actually playing the game.
It’s the truth. It’s the honor we are supposed to accord the process. It’s the respect that people have traditionally given to their leaders.
Both parties have the same playbook. Decry the other side. Be shocked at their behavior. Question the rules. Accuse them of bad faith.
Whatever you do, don’t do what the late Sen. John McCain did and admit openly and honestly that your opponent is a good person who just has different ideas. Don’t work with someone from the other side because you believe in a common goal. Don’t do anything that isn’t, first and foremost, a win for your side.
And when that happens, it creates an atmosphere where everything is perceived through that cynical, win-at-all-costs lens.
The indignation and affront from the committee Republicans was a mirror image of the Democratic reactions during the Senate confirmation hearings for Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
It has to stop somewhere, because if everything is about winning over truth and partisanship over reality, people are dragged further and further from the things that ground us. They are pulled from facts and separated from trust.
Because when everything is about winning, we all lose.