Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) is calling on her supporters to confront Trump administration officials and staffers in public amid widespread backlash to the President’s zero-tolerance policy on illegal immigration.
“Let’s make sure we show up wherever we have to show up,” Waters told a crowd in California over the weekend. “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, and you push back on them, and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”
We’ve all known that Maxine Waters is a crackpot, but this is truly berserk and dangerous — a sitting member of Congress urging mobs to attack senior members of the government!
RealClearPolitics editor A.B. Stoddard kicked off the CNN panel by pointing out that Waters is set to take over a highly important position in the House as chair of the Financial Services Committee — and “she’s doing everything she can to prevent her own promotion.”
“This is beyond overreach,” Stoddard said. “It is so outrageous that she is trying to motivate voters on her side to be as divisive as President Trump. I just find it really unbelievable that this is the kind of thing they’re trying to stoke this mob mentality on the left. It’s the exact thing that will drive turnout on the other side.”
“People end up behaving like the president and they shoot themselves in the foot,” she added.
CNN’s John Avlon pointed out that ahead of the midterm elections, “this is exactly the kind of thing that will get [Trump supporters] motivated, because it creates a veneer of moral equivalency.”
“If we get to a place as a country where it is open season on anyone if they serve in an administration in public, when mob rule starts being advocated by elected officials, that is bad for everybody. And it is the opposite, as you pointed out, of Michelle Obama’s ‘when they go low, we go high.’”
Understand: a member of Congress has urged the formation of mobs to go after senior government officials and drive them out of public places.
Last week, Kirstjen Nielsen, the Homeland Security chief, was driven out of a DC restaurant by a mob of leftist activists. And, of course, Sarah Huckabee Sanders was kicked out of a Virginia restaurant over the weekend by its owner, after her staff complained that they did not want to serve the White House press secretary. Instapundit Glenn Reynolds, writing in USA Today, takes accurate measure of the meaning of this moment:
Will it get worse? Probably. To have a civil war, soft or otherwise, takes two sides. But as pseudonymous tweeter Thomas H. Crown notes, it’s childishly easy in these days to identify people in mobs, and then to dispatch similar mobs to their homes and workplaces. Eventually, he notes, it becomes “protesters all the way down, and if we haven’t yet figured out that can lead to political violence, we’re dumb.”
Apparently, some of us are dumb or else want violence. As Crown warns, “We carefully erected civil peace to avoid this sort of devolution-to-a-mob. It is a great civilizational achievement and it is intensely fragile.” Yes, it is indeed fragile, and many people will miss it when it’s entirely gone.
What would make things better? It would be nice if people felt social ties that transcend politics. Americans’ lives used to involve a lot more intermediating institutions — churches, fraternal organizations, neighborhoods — that crossed political lines. Those have shrunk and decayed, and in fact, for many people politics seems to have become a substitute for religion or fraternal organizations. If you find your identity in your politics, you’re not going to identify with people who don’t share them.
The rules of bourgeois civility also helped keep things in check, but of course those rules have been shredded for years. We may come to miss them.
Here’s something that slightly freaked me out. Last night, when I got off the plane in Boston, I stood in the long line at Customs checking out news and Twitter. Tons of stuff about The Red Hen, and Maxine Waters. I noticed that I was looking around at all the college kids in the line, students from Boston-area colleges (I could tell from their school clothing), and wondering in advance if they would hate me if they knew that I’m a religious conservative. I stopped myself at some point thinking, “Wait, that’s crazy, you can’t let yourself go there.” What put me in that paranoid mindset was Twitter.
This morning, stepping outside my hotel to get coffee, I stood at a street corner next to a woman who was walking her dog. I complimented her on how beautiful the dog was (he looked like my own little dog), and we started a conversation about how much dogs can mean to one’s life. As we walked, she asked me where I was from. “Louisiana,” I told her.
“Have you enjoyed your time in Boston?” she asked.
I told her I was just passing through with my family, traveling home from a vacation in the Azores, and that we were about to leave for the airport.
“I’m only sorry that I wasn’t here long enough to have any Massachusetts oysters,” I said. “They’re the best in America.”
“You’re right about that!” she said. “My husband is in the restaurant business, and we both love oysters.”
I bid her farewell, and told her I look forward to coming back to Boston when I have time to eat. She smiled at me, wished me a safe flight, and went off down the street with her dog.
Boston being Boston, she’s probably quite liberal. She might have accurately figured me for a conservative, given that I’m from Louisiana. It didn’t matter. We had a lovely conversation about our shared love of dogs and oysters.
That is America.
That’s the America I love, anyway. Trump is a challenge to it. But so too are these Mad Maxine types. On Twitter, and even from some leftists in this blog’s comment section, there’s a lot of rhetoric about how Trump and his administration is so radically evil that the normal rules of civility do not apply. This is dangerous talk. It brought to mind some radical pro-lifers I once knew who believed that abortion was so evil that it should be stopped by any means necessary. There was a certain logic to their rationale, of course, but the mainstream pro-life leaders knew that accepting it would profoundly damage the pro-life cause.
It also would have made keeping civil peace very difficult. As the man Reynolds quotes observes, civil peace is not the natural state of affairs. It is an achievement of civilization. We have to protect it from Donald Trump, from Mad Maxine, and from all who threaten it. History shows us what happens when we go down this path.
I wish more people on the left understood that these tactics serve the interests of Donald Trump. Ordinary conservatives — including people like me, who are sick of Donald Trump, are watching things like government officials being driven out of restaurants, and left-wing crackpots like Maxine Waters summoning mobs to drive these government officials out of public places, and they’re thinking, That could be me one day. That’s what the left wants to do to people like me.
One more time: a sitting member of the US Congress just urged mobs to form to drive senior government officials out of public places.