Democrats must denounce the rise in violence against Republicans

Democrats must denounce the rise in violence against Republicans
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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 DoggettTrump is wrong, Dems are fighting to save Medicare and Social Security Texas police arrest man for allegedly setting fire outside Dem lawmaker's office: reports Compulsory pharmaceutical licensing is little more than government theft 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.”

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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 Faso'Law & Order: SVU' star wins court case, gets on ballot in NY congressional district Preventing violence isn’t partisan: Time to reauthorize Violence Against Women Act Five things to watch for in New York primaries MORE (R-N.Y.) and Rep. Darrell IssaDarrell Edward IssaTrump to nominate retiring lawmaker as head of trade agency Overnight Energy: Watchdog to investigate EPA over Hurricane Harvey | Panel asks GAO to expand probe into sexual harassment in science | States sue over methane rules rollback Green group targets California GOP House candidates in new ads 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 LewisOver 100 lawmakers consistently voted against chemical safeguards: report The Hill's Morning Report — Trump, Pence barnstorm swing states Election Countdown: GOP worries House majority endangered by top of ticket | Dems make history in Tuesday's primaries | Parties fight for Puerto Rican vote in Florida | GOP lawmakers plan 'Freedom Tour' 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 RoyceOvernight Defense: Latest on Korea talks | Trump says summit results 'very exciting!' | Congress to get Space Force plan in February | Trump asked CIA about silent bombs Poll: House GOP candidate leads in California swing district Overnight Defense: Congress reaches deal preventing shutdown | Pentagon poised to be funded on time for first time in years | House GOP rejects effort to get Putin summit documents 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 ScaliseFreedom Caucus calls on Rosenstein to testify or resign On The Money: Midterms to shake up House finance panel | Chamber chief says US not in trade war | Mulvaney moving CFPB unit out of DC | Conservatives frustrated over big spending bills Midterms to shake up top posts on House finance panel 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 EllisonWebb: The new mob: Anti-American Dems Minnesota paper sues to unseal Keith Ellison's divorce records Let’s confirm Kavanaugh and move on 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).