Fred LaSor: Growing violence in American politics
A fairly large swath of American opinion writers who weigh in weekly on politics refer to Republicans as “the stupid party.” It’s not easy to defend Republicans, especially in Nevada, where the GOP battles with itself every election year. We’re now learning, though, Republicans don’t have a monopoly on stupid politics.
This reality was reinforced recently by new reporting about divisions within the Democratic Party. Big vote-getters for that party are now a 28-year-old woman in New York (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) who has beaten the fourth-most senior Democrat in the House of Representatives and who thinks socialism and “free stuff” are the future of her party, and a 76-year-old socialist (Bernie Sanders) who honeymooned in the Soviet Union, and who also thinks “free stuff” is the Democrats’ future. Sanders was effectively robbed by Hillary Clinton of the nomination to head the Democrat ticket in the last presidential election, but is again coming on strong. Credit where it’s due: Sanders caucuses with the Democrats but isn’t one himself.
Even more troubling than the hard-left bent of the Democrats’ top vote-getters is the destructive nature of party leaders. We increasingly hear elected Democrats call for “resistance” to accomplish what they couldn’t in the last election: overturn Donald Trump’s election. From the day after the election right up to the present, party leaders have increasingly called for physical violence against cabinet members and elected Republicans. Remember the “women’s march?” Nothing more than an attempt to cast doubt on the Electoral College and overturn the election, as in “if you can’t win, change the rules.”
But a new tendency is creeping into Democrat Party politics: physical violence. From the shooting of Republican congressmen playing baseball in Virginia last year to confrontations at restaurants and private residences, senior Democrats are calling for supporters to confront Republicans in restaurants and other public places. Their policy is clear: make politics a contact sport, for elected officials as well as their family.
As a consequence, a new reality is facing Democrats these days: formerly reliable supporters are growing weary of being taken for granted, and they’re beginning to question their support for a party that ignores them in favor of new constituencies, particularly immigrants who aren’t even legal voters. A movement is growing on social media that captures this recognition, a movement started by a Democrat who’s tired of the party assuming he will be a reliable Democrat voter no matter what the party does or how badly it ignores his interests. He calls his movement “#walkaway,” to capture the spirit of what he has done and what he thinks others should consider. He’s gaining thousands of new supporters every week.
The face behind #walkaway is Brandon Straka, a lifelong Democrat from New York, who posted an online video several months ago in which he says: “I have watched as the left has devolved into intolerant, inflexible, illogical, hateful, misguided, ill-informed, un-American, hypocritical, menacing, callous, ignorant, narrow-minded, and at times blatantly fascistic behavior and rhetoric.” He observes in conclusion the Democratic Party “has joined forces with the extremist left” such as Antifa thugs who break up right-wing rallies with clubs and spears. The description he missed is “arrogant,” as his former party arrogantly assumes they have the support of #walkaways and others even as they court constituencies with totally different interests.
Pundits have written for years America is an increasingly divided nation. We even hear talk of a second civil war. That’s hard to give credit to, but with Democrats abandoning old constituencies, our political life is undergoing a major upheaval.
Fred LaSor retired from the foreign service in 1997 and lives now in Minden.