Politics & Policy

A Party of Stalkers

Capitol Police arrest protesters who had formed a mob in front of the Capitol ahead of the successful confirmation vote of Judge Brett Kavanaugh in Washington, D.C., October 6, 2018. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

James Hodgkinson seems to have slipped down the memory hole.

Hodgkinson was the left-wing activist who accused Donald Trump and Mike Pence of treason and — “fueled by rage against Republican legislators,” as the Virginia attorney general put it — attempted to massacre a group of Republican congressmen practicing for a baseball game. He shot Representative Steve Scalise, along with a Capitol Police officer and two others, and very likely would have murdered a goodly chunk of the GOP caucus if not for the police assigned to protect Scalise, the majority whip. Senator Rand Paul was there, too, and escaped injury — that time: A few months later, he was attacked while mowing his lawn, suffering six broken ribs. The man who attacked him, Rene Boucher, is a left-wing Chomskyite social-media rage-artist who wrote about his desire to see someone “fry Trump’s gonads.” In 2013, a gunman attacked the conservative Family Research Council. In 2016, Micah Xavier Johnson massacred police officers in Dallas. Before that, five men associated with the Occupy movement made plans to blow up a bridge in Ohio.

We have a memory, a faint one, of Democrats lecturing Republicans about their “tone” not so long ago, something about Sarah Palin and metaphorical crosshairs.

We are a long way from arguing about graphic design.

The Democrats in 2018 seem to have taken the wrong lesson from Hodgkinson and the rest: They have embraced stalking and terror as political tactics. The so-called antifa have firebombed college campuses and committed political violence in order to silence dissenting speakers and to bully students into political conformity; Democrats have taken up stalking with gusto, recently chasing Ted Cruz and his wife out of a restaurant, while Representative Dave Brat recently discovered stalkers photographing his cars and property; police cordons have been broken, and buildings have been entered illegally; Senator Susan Collins has been threatened with rape. Hillary Clinton told her gang: “You cannot be civil.”

An angry crowd at a town hall is protest, even when it is vulgar or unruly. Protest is part of democracy. But stalking and assault are not protest. Arson is not protest. The destruction of property is not protest.

This is terrorism — the attempt to instill in people the fear of physical harm or death in the service of a political agenda. This terrorism has been undertaken with the encouragement of Democratic elected officials and party grandees ranging from Senator Cory Booker to former attorney general Eric Holder. It has been justified and minimized by left-leaning media figures such as Don Lemon.

The Left is in the grip of mass hysteria. Unable to get their way through the ordinary democratic process, the Democrats have resorted to extraordinary tactics, from the smear campaign organized against Brett Kavanaugh to attempting to pound down the doors of the Supreme Court. (We’re betting on the 13-ton bronze door.) They now insist that institutions of American government ranging from the Senate to the Electoral College to the Supreme Court are illegitimate because . . . they’re a little unclear on that part, but they are sure that they are not getting their way, and that’s enough for them.

It’s a temper tantrum, true, but a temper tantrum thrown by antifa thugs is a riot.

A screaming mob cornering someone in an elevator is not ordinary democratic discourse. It is a campaign of intimidation, and it should be recognized as such.

The first, best, and most effective remedy for this kind of undemocratic mob behavior is the ballot box. Republicans are right to make an issue of Democratic mob attacks in the upcoming elections, and voters ought to take it into account. The Democrats have shown themselves incapable of responsible political action, and incapable of responsible government, too. There are those who make the law and those who break the law, and leading Democrats have aligned themselves, enthusiastically, with the latter. They should be kept as far from the levers of power as voters can put them.

The Editors comprise the senior editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

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