Was Last Weekend a Portent of Things to Come?

June 5, 2019 Updated: June 5, 2019


What a nasty weekend! There were at least four reported cases of left-wing citizens abusing political officeholders or office-seekers either physically or verbally.

It’s concerning that surly, aggressive behavior is bubbling up already—a whopping 17 months before the election—and Antifa hasn’t even gotten into the act yet.

Here, in case you missed some of the action, is what happened.

Headline No. 1:

“Woman arrested after hitting Republican congressman Matt Gaetz with drink outside town hall event”

This is the only one of the four incidents in which the politician involved isn’t running for president. It was also the only one in which a Republican was targeted, and the only one in which the politician was physically struck. A woman, reported to be a “former political rival” of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), hurled her drink (cup and contents) at the congressman, hitting him in the torso.

Thankfully, Gaetz wasn’t hurt. Indeed, given the nature of the projectile, the intent appears to have been to disrespect him, not to injure him. Compared to the attacks on two other Republican lawmakers in 2017—the shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise and the smashing of Sen. Rand Paul’s ribs—what happened to Gaetz was mild. This has led to some pathetic attempts on the left to defend the woman’s actions.

So, what is the left’s standard—that attacks against Republicans are justifiable as long as they don’t send the target to the hospital? That’s setting the bar of permissible conduct far too low.

No member of Congress or congressional candidate should have to wonder if they’re going to be attacked for speaking in public about what policies they favor. Such actions are brutish and fascistic. They are an assault against our democratic system whereby citizens settle disagreements at the ballot box and candidates are as free as the rest of us to exercise their First Amendment right to free speech. In fact, I’m sure that there are already decent, qualified citizens who have decided not to run for office because of the threat of such thuggery.

Why do progressive activists act as if the normal rules, laws, and social conventions don’t apply to them? Too many of them are so drunk with their own sense of moral superiority that they feel justified in assaulting those who disagree with them.

Headline No. 2:

“Protester grabs mic from Kamala Harris”

A young man—apparently an animal rights protester—ran onto a stage where Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) was speaking and seized her microphone. The man said he wanted more attention given to “a much bigger idea.” He didn’t get too far before he was removed from the stage—again, thankfully, without anybody sustaining an injury. From this incident, we can conclude that, as far left as the Democratic Party has turned early in this election cycle, it’s still too conservative for some people.

A message to this protester and other would-be protesters: If you want to call attention to your favorite cause, you are free to do so. Write articles and books, hand out flyers in public, rent a public hall and give a speech, run for office. But please don’t think you have a right to hijack someone else’s event. That is disrespectful, undemocratic, and a form of theft. It is also self-defeating. Many of us who sympathize with some animal rights’ groups’ less-extreme ideas will turn our backs on activists who don’t respect the rights of other human beings.

Headline No. 3:

“John Hickenlooper booed for saying ‘socialism is not the answer’”

Happily, the last two incidents don’t involve any sort of physical harassment. The harassment was verbal. Democrats booed fellow Democrats running for their party’s presidential nomination for daring to compromise on the socialist agenda.

In the first of the two booing incidents, the crowd got onto former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper at the California Democratic Convention for saying, “Socialism is not the answer.” The democratic socialists are going to make life hard for any candidate who doesn’t hop aboard the “full speed ahead to socialism” train. The ideological zealots on the left are going to rip any candidate who offers them half or two-thirds of what they want.

They would rather risk four more years of President Donald Trump and achieve almost none of their goals, rather than unite behind a candidate who doesn’t promise them the whole loaf. Whether this gamble pays off for them may be the biggest story of Election Year 2020 and may chart the course for our country.

It will be interesting to see if any Democratic contenders who don’t unreservedly promote socialism gain any traction in the race. If so, expect a civil war in the Democratic Party; if not, it will be a standard-bearer for socialism versus Trump next year.

Headline No. 4:

“Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tells 2020 Democrat John Delaney to ‘please sashay away’”

Hickenlooper wasn’t the only speaker at the California Democratic Convention who elicited boos. Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney was booed for a solid minute for expressing reservations about “Medicare for All.”

Delaney said, “We should have universal health care, but it shouldn’t be the kind of health care that kicks 150 million Americans off their health care. … I want everyone to have health care, but it’s got to be a plan that works for every American.”

I suspect a majority of Americans would agree with such a reasonable statement, but the pro-socialism crowd rejected it roundly. This inspired the ever-outspoken Ocasio-Cortez to write on Twitter that Delaney should “sashay away” (i.e., drop out of the race).

Delaney actually was trying to do his party a favor by urging them to craft a Medicare for All program that would actually deliver on its promises. Apparently, though, the socialists are so convinced of the rightness of their cause that they care less about passing competent, helpful legislation than about squashing all opposition to their grandiose socialistic plans. What contempt this shows for the American people!

Last weekend’s incidents portend a toxic, bruising political brawl over the next year and a half. Fasten your seatbelts, folks. This could get uglier than anything that any living American has ever seen before.

Mark Hendrickson, an economist, recently retired from the faculty of Grove City College, where he remains Fellow for Economic and Social Policy at the Institute for Faith and Freedom.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Mark Hendrickson
Mark Hendrickson
Mark Hendrickson is an economist, who retired from the faculty of Grove City College in Pennsylvania where he remains fellow for economic and social policy at the Institute for Faith and Freedom. He is the author of several books on topics as varied as American economic history, anonymous characters in the Bible, the wealth inequality issue, and climate change, among others.