The New York Times published an interview today with Suzanne Hodgkinson, the wife of the man who attacked GOP Members of Congress at a baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia last month. Much of the article is devoted to the guilt she feels for not knowing what was coming. Her husband was not religious so there’s no particular concern about handling his remains. It’s just a problem she is eager to put behind her for the sake of her grandchildren. Toward the end of the piece we learn what preceded the attack:
It was during the 2016 presidential campaign that Mr. Hodgkinson’s Democratic politics boiled into a rage, she said. He sided with Senator Bernie Sanders. When Donald J. Trump won, Ms. Hodgkinson said, her husband went “bananas.”
She urged him to take action locally. He said he wanted to go to the top.
In March, he left for Washington, saying that he was going to work on tax reform. She figured he would return, she would retire and they would buy a motorcycle “and just go for days on end.” He emailed the family and expressed frustration with Washington’s intransigence.
On June 14, she woke to the sounds of her 2-year-old grandson. As she does every morning, she turned on the television and fed her grandson cookies and milk. The anchors were already talking about the shooting, and it briefly occurred to her that her husband might have done it. He had been so angry.
The story opens on more incidents of anger from before James Hodkinson left for Washington D.C.:
He flung dishes at his wife, roared at the television, erupted during an outing at a local brewery. Suzanne Hodgkinson became so concerned with her husband’s growing anger that she wrote to his doctor asking for help.
We’re not told exactly when these incidents happened but the suggestion is that this was all post-election. Hodkinson was a man who just seemed to be getting angrier as the years went by and the election seems to have been the last straw.
According to news reports, Hodkinson took his van to a mechanic the day before the shooting to make sure the tires were in good enough condition to get him home. While there, he went into a profanity-laden, anti-Trump tirade. “It was more than the average person who had maybe voted for Hillary. This was different. It was deeply rooted to where his whole tone and composure changed. His voice got loud and deep. There was so much anger in it,” Chris Dauberman told the Associated Press. So it seems Hodkinson was planning to head home, though it’s not clear if he was just leaving or if this was part of his escape plan for after the attack.
There doesn’t seem to be any alternative explanation here. Hodkinson went “bananas” and spiraled out of control because his candidate lost and the candidate he hated won. This was the political equivalent of road rage. Is it time for that discussion about progressive political rhetoric yet?