News & Politics

The Wages of Hysteria: Republican Lawmakers Fear for Their Safety

Most of us recall that a few years ago, liberals were blaming conservative rhetoric for an outbreak of gun violence, culminating in the preposterous notion that harsh words directed at pro-gun control advocates like Rep. Giffords led to violence.

I wonder what liberals think of this…

The Hill:

A growing number of House Republicans are facing physical threats from angry constituents in their districts, leading many to fear for their safety.

In the last few weeks alone, the FBI arrested a man threatening Rep. Martha McSally’s (R-Ariz.) life, a woman pursued Rep. David Kustoff (R-Tenn.) in her car, and Rep. Tom Garrett (R-Va.) heightened security at a town hall event in response to death threats.

Other Republicans still holding town halls say they haven’t felt physically threatened by protesters, but they worry about the depth of anger from some constituents in the polarized environment and what it means for political civility.

Scores of GOP lawmakers have experienced going viral this year with videos of constituents shouting their disagreement on support for President Trump and policies such as the GOP’s healthcare bill.

Lately, though, Republicans have observed some furious constituents who appear to be going even further.

Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) described attendees at a town hall in his district last week who booed him down after he said people’s rights are God-given.

“They booed God. They booed the pastor. They booed the prayer. They booed the name of the church. They booed when I said rights come from God,” Brat recounted to The Hill just off the House floor. “That’s a fundamental tenet of western civilization. I mean, I didn’t think that was partisan.”

Further north in New Jersey, Rep. Tom MacArthur (R) faced pushback from a crowd when he began telling the story of his special-needs daughter who died at the age of 11.

“Shame!” people shouted. “We’ve heard this story.”

“This child in 11 years has shaped my life more than anybody. So if I talk about my daughter too much, well then so be it. But this is the one human being that has impacted my life more than anybody,” MacArthur said.

Another person sarcastically yelled out MacArthur should write a book about it.

“Maybe I will write a book,” MacArthur shot back.

When citizens hear nothing for 24-7 except hysterical and exaggerated rhetoric telling them that the country is falling into a dictatorship, that Republicans want them to die, that conservatives want to take rights away from women, minorities, gays, and anyone else who chooses to feel oppressed  — just what is to be expected except scared, even terrified people fighting back?

And for those already unbalanced, this is the sort of rhetoric that enables them to listen to the voices in their head telling them to commit violence.

There were times in the last few years when conservative rhetoric became overheated and exaggerated, but I am sure it never reached this level of hysteria that’s being deliberately fanned by liberals. Do they want violence directed against their political opponents? I’m sure some of them do. Others only want to take advantage of the political dynamic that will energize their base and get them to the polls next year.

I used to think it couldn’t get any worse. But each new revelation about Trump, Comey, Russia, and Flynn drives the rhetoric to an even higher level of madness. Soon, some people might see killing Trump or Republicans as doing a favor to the country.

Republicans have good cause to worry about their personal safety. It should worry everyone, including those few on the left who have called out their fellow liberals for the incendiary rhetoric.