GOP really means grumpy old party

GOP really means grumpy old party
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Here are four things that we know about President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDem senator says Zelensky was 'feeling the pressure' to probe Bidens 2020 Dems slam Trump decision on West Bank settlements Trump calls latest impeachment hearings 'a great day for Republicans' MORE

1. He likes war heroes who weren’t captured.

2. He thinks the white nationalists terrorizing Charlottesville were “very fine people.”

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3. He praised brutish dictators such as Kim Jong UnVladimir Putin, and Rodrigo Duterte.

4. And he even referred to members of the press as “enemy of the people.”

When you combine these unfortunate truths, we should not be surprised that the very same president applauds congressmen that physically assaults journalists for simply doing their job.

Last week, Trump hit the campaign trail to support the Republican senate nominee Matt Rosendale in Missoula, Mont. However, the rally took an uncomfortable turn after Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) introduced the president. After the introduction, Trump gestured towards Gianforte and stated, “Never wrestle him, you understand that? Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my kind of guy.”

Just hours before Gianforte won a competitive special congressional election in 2017, he body slammed Ben Jacobs, a reporter from The Guardian. At the time, Gianforte did not take too kindly to Jacob’s inquiries on whether he would support the proposed Republican health-care plan.

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According to a witness, “Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground.” 

Gianforte pled guilty a month later, and was sentenced to 40 hours of community service, 20 hours of anger management classes and a $300 fine.

Sadly, this is just another glimpse of the culture of violence that as grown rampant in today’s GOP.

Trump’s seeming acceptance for physical violence does not start and end with Gianforte. We have witnessed this hostility and divisive rhetoric throughout Trump’s presidential campaign.

Trump urged his Iowa supporters in 2017, “If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Just knock the hell — I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees.”

After a heckler was escorted out of a Nevada rally earlier that year, Trump said, “You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher…I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell ya.”

There are countless other examples of Trump inciting violence at campaign rallies and events, but I must abide by The Hill’s word count restrictions. The fact of the matter is that the embrace of physical aggression has become increasingly common with today’s conservative movement.

But this vehemence spurred by Trump comes at a time when our political discourse needs respect and civility the most, especially our friends in the media. 

Members of the journalism community are still mourning the loss of their fellow brother Jamal Khashoggi. A respected reporter for the Washington Post, Khashoggi was barbarically tortured and murdered in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul simply for doing his job.

Khashoggi was courageous in the defense of free speech and relentless in the pursuit of truth. Yet, weeks after uncovering Khashoggi’s disappearance and murder, Trump praised the body slamming of another journalist. 

This is unacceptable.

And while some may try to make the comparison, please let me be clear: the progressive mobs that confront members of Congress while dining in public are not the same as Trump supporters that physically assault protesters at rallies.

It is time for Washington to do some soul-searching and take a long look in the mirror. If we truly want to embrace a culture of compassion and civility in Congress, we must first address the culture of violence that has become synonymous with the Republican Party.

And doing so means confronting the grumpy old man that currently resides in our White House.

Bakari T. Sellers is an American politician and attorney. He is a former member of the South Carolina House of Representatives.