Democrats’ silence on our summer of violence is a tactical blunder
“Have you no sense of decency, sir?” So asked Joseph Welch, the attorney who stood up to the bullying by Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-Wis.) during a 1954 Senate hearing. And once he said it, the nightmare that was McCarthyism was over.
Who will be the Joseph Welch who wakes us up from this new wave of reverse McCarthyism? Today, you are blacklisted if you don’t support a far-left agenda.
It’s time that a Democrat crossed the invisible picket line to condemn both the “cancel culture” and the mindless violence in our cities. It’s time that a Democrat stood up for the First Amendment in this country and the need for an open political debate. And it is time that a Democrat exploded the nonsense that what is going on in Portland and Seattle is just protest and not destructive anti-police, anti-American violence that needs to be stopped, not coddled.
Unfortunately, today’s Joe Biden is not that Democrat. He is too concerned with courting left-wing voters to call out these destructive currents in America. Biden is signing pacts with Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). He could be courageous and stand up for the country he is seeking to lead, and he could outline a program for ending the Black-on-Black crime that kills thousands of African American kids every year. He proudly supported the Clinton anti-crime bill, back in the day when he was for law and order in this country. Back then he believed in the effectiveness of tough measures to reduce crime and to save lives by taking violent criminals off the streets. Today, he is MIA when it comes to stopping the waves of violence sweeping our cities. Why has he not called out Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler for the outrageous position that it is the defenders of federal property who are to blame?
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is not that Democrat, either. She is busy describing federal agents defending a courthouse as “stormtroopers” and is concerned about the constitutional rights of those committing violent acts. Polls show that 80 percent of Americans think things are out of control, and a majority of Americans want to see those who commit acts of violence prosecuted. There is a national consensus that violence is rising as a result of the protests that are undermining the rule of law in the country.
And Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), fresh from his impeachment run, is certainly not going to condemn violence that he dismissed as a “myth.” He has perpetuated support for attacks on federal property, and it is those attacks that endanger federal law enforcement officials who are simply trying to do their jobs. Is it not clear that the government puts up a fence and that the violent offenders try to tear down the fence and launch fireworks and deploy destructive lasers against federal officers?
It is no different when it comes to the cancel culture. Not a single major Democrat has stood up and roundly condemned the idea that people should be fired or lose their tenure just for questioning the Black Lives Matter organization, despite making clear that they are not questioning racial justice and equality. In the rush to take advantage of every action that hurts Trump, these Democrats make the mistake that the views of the elite left are similar to the members of their own party.
So far, the person who came closest to speaking out, and who is not a Republican or a conservative, is journalist Bari Weiss. She effectively exposed and denounced the culture at the New York Times as being far removed from a tolerant, open environment envisioned by the protections of the First Amendment. Instead, the journalists at the Times turned being even a moderate into something uncomfortable, let alone someone who supports the state of Israel. She called out the “bullying” she endured, being called a “Nazi” and a “racist,” and called out the newspaper’s unlawful discrimination and hostile environment. The cancel culture continues unabated, however; Weiss quit her job, having had enough of the abuse.
Even as a political strategy, this silence by Democrats on these issues is a huge tactical mistake, creating the potential of a backlash for so clearly trying to deny obvious reality. Joining together with Republicans against violence and in defense of the First Amendment is a far smarter position, because these radicals who are fomenting violence won’t really be supporting any party. These are not election issues — they are basic American issues, and Attorney General William Barr was entirely right in his testimony last week before Congress that one of our political parties should never turn a blind eye toward violence against our nation. It has been this way for more than 200 years, since the Whiskey Rebellion of 1791-1794 — because destruction of federal property, like our courthouses, is not an action against one party but an action against all parties.
Andrew Stein is the former Democratic president of the New York City Council and founder and chairman of “Democrats for Trump.” He is the brother of The Hill’s chairman.
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