Earlier this week former First Lady and Democrat candidate for president, Hillary Clinton, made an astonishing statement. In fact, I believe that it succinctly sums up the dangerous and dysfunctional state of today’s American political affairs.
“You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about,” Mrs. Clinton told a reporter.
One day later, the former attorney general, Eric Holder, echoed Mrs. Clinton’s endorsement of incivility and potentially even mob violence by suggesting it was time for Democrats to act “tough.” Playing off of former First Lady Michelle Obama’s famous declaration during the 2016 presidential campaign, Holder said bluntly, “When they go low, we kick ‘em.”
This past summer, Democrat Representative Maxine Waters, one of the most liberal members of Congress, had urged supporters to physically harass Republican officials with whom they disagree.
“If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd,” she said. “And you push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”
Think about what they’re actually saying. Let it sink in.
Allow me to translate.
What they’re saying is this:
When conservatives win and govern, they’ll be nasty obstructionists who will resort to dirty tactics up to and including physical violence. But when liberals win, everybody needs to play nice.
What a farce!
The danger of this approach cannot be overstated.
Just ask Louisiana Republican Congressman Steve Scalise, who was seriously wounded when a gunman, angry with the GOP’s agenda, opened fire two summers ago and nearly killed the representative (and many others) while Rep. Scalise was practicing with the congressional baseball team.
Responding to the latest surge in calls for physical harassment and intimidation and even violence, Rep. Scalise wrote, “A healthy, strong democracy is not possible if anyone lives in fear of expressing their views. In America, we win battles at the ballot box, not through mob rule or intimidation. While it’s clear many Democrats refuse to accept the election of President Trump, if they want change, they need to convince people with their ideas and actually win elections, rather than call for violent resistance, harassment, and mob rule.”
Or how about Senator Rand Paul, who was viciously attacked while he was mowing his lawn? In that instance, the assailant cited political differences with the Kentucky lawmaker.
Reports came out on Wednesday that John David Rice-Cameron, the son of former Obama official Susan Rice, was attacked on Tuesday while attending a pro-Justice Kavanaugh event. Mrs. Rice’s son is Stanford College Republicans’ president. The attacker disagreed with the young man’s political ideology – and so he assaulted him.
I suspect the rise of this “mob mentality” is only going to get worse in the coming days.
I’m encouraged to see that some prominent liberals have denounced both the tactics and the attacks themselves. I wish more would step forward and call out this dangerous rhetoric.
Clearly, something is seriously wrong when ideological differences are communicated through the use of physical violence – and condoned by the very people who should be condemning the attacks.
Setting political ideology aside, as a Christian, I am called to treat each person with civility and respect, even though it’s sometimes easier said than done.
We do this by not shrinking back from honest discussion, although the apostle Paul reminds us to avoid petty quarrels (2 Timothy 2:23).
We do it when we try to understand where our fellow human beings are coming from.
I pray that cooler heads will prevail and that this escalation of violence will subside. This type of behavior including banging and clawing at the doors of the Supreme Court, which we saw on Saturday, is certainly no way to engage one another, let alone run a thriving and healthy country.