There are several Republican members of Congress who are facing threats, and have seen people be arrested, for their support of President Donald Trump’s agenda. Most of the targets appears to be either freshmen, like Tennessee Congressman David Kustoff and Virginia Congressman Tom Garrett Jr., or those in swing districts like Arizona Congresswoman Martha McSally. Via The Hill:
The FBI arrested a Tucson, Ariz. man for leaving three threatening messages on McSally’s congressional office voicemail, in which he allegedly said her days “were numbered” and threatened to shoot her. A criminal complaint filed last week in the U.S. District Court in Tucson said the suspect told agents he was upset over McSally’s votes to back up Trump.
McSally represents the same swing district previously represented by then-Rep. Gabby Giffords (D), who was shot in the head in 2011 during a constituent meet-and-greet.
In Tennessee, a woman angry over Kustoff’s vote for the GOP’s healthcare bill this month pursued a car carrying him from an event at a local university. Kustoff and a staffer eventually turned into a driveway and came to a stop. Then the woman approached the car, yelled at Kustoff and struck the car’s windows, according to local reports.
Meanwhile, Garrett spokesman Andrew Griffin said the freshman lawmaker has received at least three death threats over the course of the healthcare debate.
One constituent called Garrett’s Washington office and said if his healthcare is taken away, he would take Garrett’s life away. Another person sent a message to Garrett’s campaign Facebook page with graphic details describing how they would kill Garrett.
Congressman Ted Yoho also had his Gainesville office vandalized, but said a town hall in Gainesville was pretty civil. What all these reports show is just how much anger is in the U.S. at the moment, and some people don’t know how to hit their internal “delete” button before making a telephone call, sending a Facebook message, or any other sort of threat of violence. The anger isn’t just on the Left, but also on the Right. There are a few select individuals who have expressed their anger at non-Trump supporters in a variety of ways, including death threats, doxxing, and images of their Twitter profile pictures in ovens. Being a quasi-public members of society means people will target you if they get pissed off or you’re not doing or saying what they want.
The good news is not every Republican town hall has been like this. Michigan Congressman Justin Amash had to deal with angry protesters earlier this year, but kept his cool and went on the offensive. Via POLITICO:
Amash [ was pressed ] to commit to safeguarding protections for people with pre-existing conditions. When Amash wouldn’t do it, one person shouted at him to “answer the question,” to which he responded: “I am answering the question… I said I would not support that provision. I would not.”
“Why? Why? Why?” people screamed. “That’s wrong!” another called out.
Amash at that moment had to pause the conversation, telling the crowd that “yelling at each other does not resolve the problem.”
Amash effectively defused tensions, though, with jokes about his poor singing and a quip to the liberal crowd that “with Donald Trump in office, I don’t know why you’re such big fans of the federal government!”.
Twenty –five minutes after he was supposed to finish, at least 50 hands were still in the air seeking to ask questions. When the event ended, they lined up to talk to Amash.
This is probably one of the best ways to handle the anger at town halls. Now, Amash has more of a personality than most politicians in DC, so maybe he’s at more of an advantage. But it’s a good idea to confront the anger instead of running away from it. There’s no reason for GOP members of Congress to not hold town halls because of all the rage. It may mean extra security, like Garrett ended up doing a few weeks ago, but politicians do work for the people who elected them. There’s nothing wrong with holding town halls and reaching out to members of the opposition for their opinion.
The fact is the entire United States probably needs to take a chill pill, and stop and think before posting something on social media or making a phone call. This won’t happen, because we live in a reactionary society, but it’s something people should still consider. I wrote over a year ago the U.S. was looking more like France during the Revolution (albeit with fewer public executions) and I’m starting to wonder if that’s not correct. The only question is who ends up being the Napoleon of the U.S..