Republicans like to act so tough as they rob us of our health care, dismantle our public school system, institute discriminatory immigration bans and openly flirt with fascists and tyrants. They think they’re being clever when the call us “snowflakes” in search of a “safe space.” They like to play the bully.
But as with most bullies, that bluster is nothing more than an attempt to hide a cowardly heart. According to Politico:
House Republicans during a closed-door meeting Tuesday discussed how to protect themselves and their staff from protesters storming town halls and offices in opposition to repealing Obamacare, sources in the room told POLITICO.
House GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers invited Rep. David Reichert, a former police sheriff, to present lawmakers with protective measures they should have in place. Among the suggestions: having a physical exit strategy at town halls, or a backdoor in congressional offices to slip out of, in case demonstrations turn violent; having local police monitor town halls; replacing any glass office door entrances with heavy doors and deadbolts; and setting up intercoms to ensure those entering congressional offices are there for appointments, not to cause chaos.
“The message was: One, be careful for security purposes. Watch your back. And two, be receptive. Honor the First Amendment, engage, be friendly, be nice,” said Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker (R-N.C.). “Because it is toxic out there right now. Even some of the guys who have been around here a lot longer than I have, have never seen it to this level.”
He later added: “For those of us who have children in grade school and that kind of thing, there’s a factor in all of this, saying: How far will the progressive movement go to try to intimidate us?”
There’s so much to unpack here.
Before I start, it would be great if everyone in the world felt secure. I don’t personally wish anyone to be in fear. That said, having been called a snowflake in search of a safe space for so long, this is a bit much. Have you been to one of our protests? You might find people upset about losing health care or the Muslim ban, but I’ve yet to see anyone with a semi-automatic rifle slung over their shoulder. Know where I’ve seen that? Tea party rallies and right-leaning gatherings. So, really. I mean, really.
OK. First, all you resisters are doing your job and doing it well. They’ve never encountered anything like this, and frankly, they didn’t think we had it in us. You can hear them commenting on news programs in utter disbelief that this could possibly be a grass-roots movement, and believe that someone with deep pockets must be driving this. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve yet to be paid a cent for all this work.
So keep it going. They can’t pretend to not notice us anymore, and they’re hoping beyond hope that we’ll just stop, pack up our signs and put away our phones, and go home. Disappoint them.
Second, they’re worried about a toxic environment. Heck, who isn’t these days, whether you’re talking the political atmosphere out there, or the honest-to-god environment under a Trump administration.
But here’s the thing. It didn’t have to be this way. They chose this. They chose not to listen to us. They chose to refuse our calls for a town hall. They chose to ignore our demands when we called them. They chose to disregard their duty to us as our elected officials. If they don’t like it, they can change it. But they’re not, because they’re still banking on us going away. See Point 1. It’s our job to disappoint them.
Three, and this should be a no-brainer, but it has to be said: Make their safety fears unfounded. We have the right to peaceably assemble. Peaceably is all we need. Don’t start fights, don’t make things personal, and don’t throw anything. There’s some speculation out there that far-right groups are sending agent provocateurs to protests to stir up trouble, though I’ve not heard of that at any local actions. But be aware of others around you, and if you see anyone crossing the line from being assertive to being aggressive or even violent, do what you can to de-escalate the situation.