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 DoggettProgressives push for changes to Pelosi drug pricing plan Pelosi woos progressives on prescription drug pricing plan House Democratic Caucus chairman announces support for 'Medicare for All' 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 FasoThe 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority GOP House super PAC targets two freshman Dems with new ads Tax law failed to save GOP majority MORE (R-N.Y.) and Rep. Darrell IssaDarrell Edward IssaIssa's Senate confirmation hearing delayed over concerns about background check The Hill's Campaign Report: Democrats clash over future of party in heated debate Issa says he will run for Congress if not confirmed to trade post by Nov. 3 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 LewisThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Former GOP Rep. Jason Lewis says he'll challenge Tina Smith in Minnesota Republicans must push through genuine health care reform 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 RoyceMystery surrounds elusive sanctions on Russia Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers struggle to understand Facebook's Libra project | EU hits Amazon with antitrust probe | New cybersecurity concerns over census | Robocall, election security bills head to House floor | Privacy questions over FaceApp House panel advances bill to protect elections from foreign interference 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 ScaliseScalise blasts Democratic legislation on gun reforms Liz Cheney calls for 'proportional military response' against Iran On The Money: Senate panel scraps vote on key spending bill amid standoff | Democrats threaten to vote against defense bill over wall funding | Trump set to meet with aides about reducing capital gains taxes 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 EllisonJudge threatens to put prison officials in same uncooled cells as inmates Minnesota students file federal lawsuit against school district alleging 'deliberate indifference' to racist incidents Former Sanders aides launch consulting firm 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).