Democrats must denounce the rise in violence against Republicans

Democrats must denounce the rise in violence against Republicans
© Getty

As masked leftists use clubs to shut down free speech at Berkeley and elsewhere, Democrats have unfortunately been reticent to condemn the activity. But Antifa violence is not the only kind of condemnable disruptive activity. Democrats should also disavow the organized campaign to harass Republican congressmen and stop Republican town halls.

One group in the thick of this battle is “Indivisible.” The group was founded by a former staffer for Democratic Rep. Lloyd DoggettLloyd Alton DoggettOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Trump hits federally funded clinics with new abortion restrictions Dems press Trump officials to reduce price of opioid reversal drug Overnight Defense: House panel passes 6B defense bill | What's in the bill and what didn't make the cut | Pentagon details 'failures' in Niger operation | Trump, Kim meeting set MORE, and its COO, Matt Traidi, is the research coordinator for the Service Employees International Union. Indivisible provides these instructions on how to prevent other town hall attendees from asking questions: “Don’t give up the mic until you’re satisfied with the answer. If you’ve asked a hostile question … keep a firm hold on the mic. No staffer in their right mind wants to look like they’re physically intimidating a constituent, so they will back off.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Not content to interfere with town halls, Indivisible has also gone to the homes of Republican congressmen. They have targeted swing districts such as those of Rep. John FasoJohn James FasoTensions on immigration erupt in the House GOP GOP lawmakers back discharge petition to force immigration votes Vulnerable GOP lawmakers have toned down tax rhetoric since January: Reuters MORE (R-N.Y.) and Rep. Darrell IssaDarrell Edward IssaSteyer-backed group launches 0,000 voter outreach campaign in California Election analyst moves four House seats toward GOP Dems step up efforts to avoid California primary shutouts MORE (R-Calif). About 200 protesters showed up at Issa's home to harass him for not holding town hall meetings.

 

But Indivisible isn’t the only organization causing problems. TakeActionMN showed up at Rep. Jason LewisJason Mark LewisKoch-backed group to target some Republicans over spending vote in new ad campaign Vulnerable GOP lawmakers have toned down tax rhetoric since January: Reuters House Republicans reserve millions in early air time MORE’ (R-Minn.) house during the August recess. “It’s gotten so bad that unruly protestors recently invaded my family’s home and personal property, frightening neighbors who then called the local police," Lewis told me. "The group [that] organized the trespass has not only refused to apologize, but hasn't ruled out doing it again.”

Indivisible plans to disrupt town halls and then go to Republican congressmen’s homes and offices to protest the lack of town halls. “This is a well-oiled, very much activist plan to disrupt the democratic process,” Lewis said. “I have a responsibility to serve the 2nd district to the best of my ability. I don't have a responsibility to host — at taxpayer expense — a Democrat campaign rally just because hyper-partisan opponents call it a "town hall." 

And one can easily see the impact. While 92 percent of Democrats in the House have had Town Halls this year, only 54 percent of Republicans have. While Democrats have held more Town Halls this year than last year, the number for Republicans fell by 54 percent. Many Republicans who held August events faced disruptions from Indivisible, even those in safe districts in such states as North Carolina, Utah, and West Virginia.

It’s understandable that Democrats don’t want to criticize the tactics of Indivisible or the Service Employees International Union. Over two years from 2015 to 2016, the Service Employees International Union’s PAC spent over $55 million helping candidates, and 100 percent of their contributions to federal candidates went to Democrats.

The threats to congressmen’s offices have become of sufficient concern that the Capitol police have reissued guidelines for all members of Congress. Indivisible disrupts California Congressman Ed RoyceEdward (Ed) Randall RoyceSteyer-backed group launches 0,000 voter outreach campaign in California Election analyst moves four House seats toward GOP Dem peace deal reached in crucial House district MORE’s office once a week.

While some in the media have tried unsuccessfully to get Democratic politicians to disavow Antifa, questions about Indivisible and the Service Employees International Union seem to be off-limits. The tea party never did anything like this. Do Democrats want Republicans showing up at their homes and harassing their families the next time they control the government?

Indivisible and the Service Employees International Union don't engage in activity comparable to Antifa’s violence. But congressmen didn’t sign up for this kind of mistreatment, especially for their families. And free speech at town halls doesn’t mean yelling so loudly and for so long that no one else can talk.

One would hope that the shooting of Rep. Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseRepublicans fear retribution for joining immigration revolt Top GOP donor threatens to stop giving to lawmakers over DACA battle Key House chairman floats changes to immigration bill MORE (R-La.) and near mass-murder of Republican congressmen in Virginia would have served as a wake-up call. One would hope that cooler heads would finally prevail and that there could be some bipartisan agreement about what behavior crosses the line. But a Democratic Missouri legislator recently wrote, "I hope Trump is assassinated." Keith EllisonKeith Maurice EllisonVoters Dems need aren't impressed by anti-waterboarding showboating Democrats urge colleagues to oppose prison reform bill Overnight Finance: House panel to take up bill toughening review of foreign deals | Trump acknowledges Cohen payment on disclosure form | Officials set for new round of China trade talks MORE, deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee, claimed in a fundraising letter that senior White House officials are either members of a Nazi organization or white nationalists.

The antics have become so disconcerting that even some old guard liberal lions, such as former Rep. Dennis Kucinich, are warning fellow Democrats that voters “want American politicians to be constructive, not destructive.”

They should listen to Mr. Kucinich. 

John Lott is the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and author of “The War on Guns” (Regnery, 2016).