The attempted mass murder of several Republican members of Congress by a lone Bernie Sanders Democrat was the foreseeable fruit of the “Resist!” movement. I know: I predicted it. Barring a change of approach on the anti-Trump side, more such extremism is likely.
Anomalous response to President Trump has been the Democrats’ strategy since election day when, contrary to custom, Hillary Clinton never made an appearance before her assembled staff and supporters to concede victory on camera.
Within hours of Trump’s victory, leading Democrats such as Representative Maxine Waters of California were calling for impeachment. Waters’ ridiculous recommendation drew and draws widespread attention. There is no doubt that the president has not committed treason, bribery, or any high crimes or misdemeanors, but this does not stop them. In recent weeks, she has been joined by a second Democratic congressman in advocacy of impeachment.
As the cries for impeachment surfaced even before the Electoral College could be assembled, Clinton supporters across the country launched a second, more extreme response to the dawning of the Age of Trump. From sea to shining sea, Republican Electoral College members were deluged with emails, tweets, phone calls, and other communications insisting that they not vote for Trump. A small group of Clinton electors took the name of Alexander Hamilton and began peddling the idea that whatever the laws of their states might say, presidential electors had a constitutional right to vote for whomever they wanted. At least one Republican elector, persuaded by this argument, announced his intention not to vote for Trump despite the popular vote in his state, Texas. As it happened, he was a Facebook friend of mine, and I eventually persuaded him that since the Constitution empowers state legislatures to decide how their states’ electoral votes will be allocated and Texas law says the popular vote winner will receive Texas’ Electoral College votes, he had no constitutional leg to stand on. He told me I had persuaded him, resigned his position, and was replaced by another person. Ultimately, all of Texas’ electors voted for Trump.
Contrary to the hopes of the felons who had threatened Electoral College members, Trump’s election then went off without a hitch. His inauguration would be different, however. First, internationally famous tenor Andrea Bocelli, a friend of the president-elect’s, reneged on his promise to participate in the festivities. Apparently, his livelihood had been threatened by other members of the “tolerant” entertainment community. Then, scores of Democratic members of Congress announced that in light of their distaste for the president-elect, they would not participate in the Inauguration Day events.
The day after Inauguration Day, Trump opponents staged counter-programming. Highlighting the day’s celebrations were an extremely odd speech by a B-list actress and a speech by a has-been pop-tart, the latter of whom shared that she had been thinking a lot about blowing up the White House. Across the country, people turned out wearing [vulgarity] hats and carrying vulgar signs, often with children in tow. The new slogan of Democratic politics was “Resist!” Not “Persuade!” or “I’d Prefer a Democrat!” but simply “Resist!”
Democrats in Congress had already laid the groundwork for their “Resist!” approach to the Trump Administration in mid-2016. Long in the minority in the House of Representatives, they decided to stage the first-ever congressional sit-in to get their way. If Speaker of the House Paul Ryan would not schedule the votes they wanted, they would not allow the House to function at all. Never before in American history had such a thing been done, but House Democrats under Nancy Pelosi saw it through, closing down the House one day.
The November elections left Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the most powerful Democrat in America. The party faithful wanted him to stymie Trump’s agenda. He lit on another unexampled strategy: for the first time ever, the Senate majority would force the Senate majority to take the longest time the minority can require under the Senate rules in considering each and every one of Trump’s Cabinet nominees. This approach had the desired effect of preventing confirmation of some of Trump’s Cabinet appointments until June, and of preventing full staffing of the Trump Administration to the present.
Democrats in Congress had already laid the groundwork for their “Resist!” approach to the Trump Administration in mid-2016. Long in the minority in the House of Representatives, they decided to stage the first-ever congressional sit-in to get their way.
It has long been known that the administrative bureaucracy of the Federal Government is staffed overwhelmingly by Democrats. Nominally neutral, the Deep State favors continuance and extension of big-government policy across the sweep of federal agencies, and then some. It favors Democrats. The bureaucracy too got into the act.
For one thing, the policy process even within the White House has leaked like a sieve. Perhaps (although it seems unlikely) some of the leaking originates with Trump appointees, but the variety and frequency of leaks make it likely that the bureaucracy itself is manned by people like former FBI Director James Comey, who has conceded under oath that he leaked confidential information with an anti-Trump purpose.
Americans have been joined by Mexicans and Australians in seeing the Deep State publicize transcripts of confidential conversations between President Trump and those countries’ chief executives, with a special anti-Trump twist. Both the Mexican president and the Australian premier have disputed the media accounts of the conversations in question, as has President Trump.
While all of this went on, leading Democratic figures continued to stoke the first of strident partisanship and political bitterness. Perhaps most notable in this regard was the public call by Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) – lately Hillary Clinton’s running mate – for Democrats to “fight in the streets!” Soon after Kaine issued this call, Clinton echoed it.
There have been Democratic astroturf events on several different weekends across the country. Also, several Republican members of Congress have had their routine town hall meetings broken up by angry “constituents” (many from outside their districts) brandishing matching pre-fab signs and reciting similar talking points from one state to another.
Mass media, seldom very proficient at feigning political neutrality, have played their role in fanning the partisan fires. Late-night television, once the province of Johnny Carson, now ranges from moderately anti-Trump Jimmy Fallon to “Are-you-bored-of-this-yet?” Stephen Colbert. Late-late-night television’s reigning eminence, former Saturday Night Live writer/host Seth Meyers, was told by his network, NBC, to eschew neutrality altogether. His go-to gag is (yes, truly) to mock the president’s skin color. This comes as no surprise from the network that told SNL it must not run any mockery of Clinton during election year.
With all of this in mind, I predicted a couple of weeks ago on a syndicated Florida radio program that there would be substantial violence. When people are taught to disrespect every single element of our political culture, and when they are told unceasingly that their political opponents are “Nazis! Nazis! Nazis!” it’s not surprising that some guy would pick up a rifle and go shoot the House majority whip—after ascertaining that the gaggle of congressmen into which he’d be firing were indeed Republicans.
The nightly news broadcasts are little better. Yes, CNN did fire a not-very-funny comedienne in light of intensely negative feedback to her al Qaeda fantasy video, but only after waiting several hours to see what the response would be. Also in New York City, a local theater troupe—funded in part by the Federal Government—is staging a production of “Julius Caesar” with a very Trump-ish Caesar, complete with grisly assassination scene.
With all of this in mind, I predicted a couple of weeks ago on a syndicated Florida radio program that there would be substantial violence. When people are taught to disrespect every single element of our political culture, and when they are told unceasingly that their political opponents are “Nazis! Nazis! Nazis!” it’s not surprising that some guy would pick up a rifle and go shoot the House majority whip—after ascertaining that the gaggle of congressmen into which he’d be firing were indeed Republicans. (I have not seen anyone list all the participants in the ill-fated baseball practice, but besides Senator Rand Paul, I did see Senator Jeff Flake among them. If not for the presence of Scalise’s bodyguards, the Senate majority probably would have flipped parties.)
We have as yet no indication that Democrats are going to revert to normal political behavior at this point: argue against Republican positions in measured tones, compare their preferred policies to Republicans’, vote against proposals they dislike on the floors of Congress, and campaign hard in the next election. If “Resist!”—more the slogan of an authoritarian movement than of a republican one—remains their byword, we may well see further violence. Alas.