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 DoggettWith Build Back Better, Dems aim to correct messaging missteps Cities become pawns in redistricting game LIVE COVERAGE: Tax hikes take center stage in Ways and Means markup 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.”
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 FasoZephyr Teachout running for New York AG Democrats go big on diversity with new House recruits Kyle Van De Water wins New York GOP primary to challenge Rep. Antonio Delgado MORE (R-N.Y.) and Rep. Darrell IssaDarrell Edward IssaProposed California maps put incumbents in jeopardy Bipartisan lawmakers target judges' stock trading with new bill How lawmakers aided the Afghan evacuation 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 LewisRep. Angie Craig defends Minnesota House seat in race clouded by legal confusion Smith wins reelection in Minnesota Klobuchar 'feeling good' about Democrats taking control of Senate 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 RoyceBottom line Bottom line California was key factor in House GOP's 2020 success 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 ScaliseLawmakers remember Bob Dole: 'Bona fide American hero' House sets up Senate shutdown showdown GOP beginning to jockey for post-election leadership slots 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 EllisonAttorney says ex-officer will testify at trial in Daunte Wright killing Former Rep. Raúl Labrador running for Idaho attorney general Keith Ellison seeking reelection as Minnesota attorney general 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.