Over the past few crazy weeks of this Alternafact regime, alarmed, frightened, and angry constituents have tried to reach their elected Republican representatives to register their feelings and request action. Their efforts to be heard have resulted in risible overreaction from right-wing politicians unused to challenge and plenty of schadenfreude laffs for the left.
But like much of the theater of absurd that marks our recent days, it turns out that the left might be the players getting played instead of the laughing audience.
On January 14, Republican Mike Coffman of Colorado snuck out the back early from a scheduled meet-and-greet with constituents that turned out to attract a lot of constituents who were frightened about the removal of life-giving health care. This article includes some very funny video of the Congressman enlisting local coppers using yellow tape to protect him from constituents viciously singing that hippie anthem of destructive violence, “This Land is Your Land” and wanting to know just what he planned to do to protect their health insurance.
Next up: Pennsylvania Republican Senator Pat Toomey. Sen. Toomey won his seat by the slim margin of 1%, and although his state went for Trump, it was by fewer than 45,000 votes. You’d think he’d be interested in at least appearing to listen to his more left-leaning constituents, but you’d be wrong. Overwhelmed by opposition to the nominee for the Department of Education, Betsy DeVos, he and his staff basically stopped answering the phones. Constituents took to faxing him, making him briefly the “most faxed” US Senator. When that didn’t seem to work, constituents scheduled regular “Tuesdays with Toomey,” milling about outside his regional offices with signs reading “Where’s Toomey”? There’s video out there somewhere of forlorn constituents leaving messages on his intercom voice mail while he and his staff cower behind a locked door (let me know if you find it — hilarious). And when Toomey’s staff did deign to answer the phone, at least one of them hung up on a constituent for saying the word “menstruation.” Creative Pennsylvania constituents started a GoFundMe to “buy back” Toomey’s vote from DeVos’s contribution, and they also got $3.5 million in pledges to Toomey’s as yet unknown opponent if he voted for DeVos. He managed to gin up the courage to vote for DeVos anyway.
Westward ho to California, where on February 4 Republican Representative Tom McClintock felt compelled to call police to save him from his own constituents’ wrath over the Muslim ban. His town hall meeting space filled to capacity of 200, and the overflow crowd chanted and waved signs — the horror! Witness the video of about ten cops escorting our walking navy-blazered hero to a black SUV that PEELS INTO the parking lot, speeding away from walking, sign-waving, calling constituents.
On February 2, MSNBC concern-trolled besieged Republicans. Laffs I tell you! Laffs!
But now we see the ugly underbelly.
Yesterday, February 7, Politico ran a story entitled “Republicans fear for their safety as Obamacare protests grow.” The new spin is that these poor, dedicated civil servants don’t fear signs, calls, faxes, words, and song. No, they are frightened of VIOLENCE from unhinged progressives. Hence the need for armed police officers and yellow tape. Expressing the projection that has characterized right-wing paranoia in America this past year, Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker (R-N.C.) said, “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…. 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?”
See the game?
The violence Republicans pretend to fear is the violence they are itching to inflict on the people who dare to challenge them, who shine sunlight on their venal ways, who point out their hypocrisies, and who ask their representatives to do the job they were elected to do and are paid to do — represent their constituents — all of them, not just the ones who voted them in.
The Republicans are members of a minority party who have rigged the game to take all of the game pieces. They did not and cannot win by fair and legitimate means. They are prepared to defend their fragile and illegitimate victory with threat, intimidation and violence.
They will tolerate the theatre of responsible politics for only so long.