Threats and intimidation against conservatives have been flowing out of the so-called resistance ever since President Donald Trump won an upset victory in the 2016 election, but the tactic increasingly is getting the imprimatur of top Democrats.
This week alone, the former secretary of state and former attorney general endorsed hostility toward Republicans.
Hillary Clinton, who lost to Trump in the 2016 election, told CNN on Tuesday that civility toward Republicans cannot return until Democrats regain power by taking the majority in the House or Senate, or both, in the 2018 election.
Eric Holder, who was the chief law enforcement officer under President Barack Obama, told supporters of Georgia’s Democratic nominee for governor that they should “kick ’em” when Republicans “go low.”
Those exhortations follow remarks from Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) that members of Trump’s administration should not have peace and that people should get in their faces at gas stations, restaurants or wherever they may see them.
Often, Democratic leaders make sure, as Holder did on Wednesday, to add disclaimers that they do not condone violence.
But House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), the most prominent victim of political violence in the Trump era, expressed worry about the current tone of American politics and its potential for tragedy. He reflected Thursday in a Fox News op-ed on his experience getting shot last year at a practice of the Republican congressional baseball team.
“As a survivor of a politically motivated attack, it is tragic to think this is an acceptable state of political discourse in our country,” he wrote.
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James Hodgkinson, who volunteered for the 2016 presidential campaign of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, shot Scalise and three others before Capitol Police offers killed him in return gunfire. He reportedly had a “hit list” of Republican members of Congress in his pocket.
Scalise suggested that some Democrats are behaving irresponsibly.
“Beginning with my own near-death experience at the hands of a deranged shooter who sought to assassinate a baseball field of Republicans, there is a growing list of violent or threatening actions taken against conservatives by Democrats,” he wrote.
While the Scalise shooting is the most chilling incident, the list of harassments against Republicans is long and growing. It includes — potentially — an assault that seriously injured Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) as he was cutting his grass. The man who carried out the attack, a neighbor in Bowling Green, pleaded guilty to assault and served 30 days in jail.
He has denied political motivations. Paul is not so sure. He and his wife, Kelley Paul, have received other threats that have led to arrests. Kelley told Fox News that she now sleeps with a loaded gun.
It also includes an incident in which a staffer of Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) stands accused of hacking into the congressional computer system and publishing personal information of Republicans on the Senate Committee on the Judiciary while they were considering the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Here are some other recent incidents, documented by Scalise and culled from other news sources:
1.) The owner of The Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, kicked White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her dining party out of the establishment earlier this year and followed them across the street when they headed to a different eatery.
2.) Demonstrators in June accosted Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) Kirstjen Nielsen and others who were eating lunch at a Mexican restaurant. They hovered over her table shouting, “Shame.”
3.) Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and his wife fled demonstrators at an Italian restaurant in the nation’s capital last month as they shouted, “We believe survivors.”
Kavanaugh’s wife and children received multiple threats during the confirmation process.
4.) Personal information of Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), including their home addresses and cellphone numbers, were made public by former Democratic congressional staffer Jackson Cosko. Cosko now faces federal felony charges for “doxing” the senators.
5.) Dana Loesch, a spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association (NRA), received death threats against her children on Twitter.
6.) A protester who works for a left-wing activist organization trapped Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) in an elevator, berating him about sexual assault survivors just before the judiciary committee voted on Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
7.) A woman confronted Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) outside her home in Washington before the Kavanaugh vote and then tried to get into a members-only elevator with her in the Capitol. Outside Collins’ office, demonstrators shouted, “We believe survivors.”
8.) On the eve of the Kavanaugh vote, a small group of people confronted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) at an airport.
9.) Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) received a phone message threatening to kill her. It led to criminal charges against the caller, Clifton Ward.
10.) The wife of Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Jamie Gardner, received a text message, after the Kavanaugh confirmation vote, that graphically showed a beheading.
11.) Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.) received threatening phone calls that led to a man’s arrest. A federal judge this week sentenced Sohail Rana, 50, to two and a half years in prison for a call in which he told the congressman’s district director that he would end Higgins’ career and kill him.
12.) Rudy Peters, a Republican running for Congress in California, fended off a man with a switchblade knife while campaigning last month. Alameda County sheriff’s deputies arrested Farzad Fazeli, who stands accused of approaching Peters and shouting profanity about the Republican Party and Trump.
Anger has not been limited to policymakers. Sometimes, liberals have heaped scorn on people who practiced politeness toward administration officials. Over the summer, a Tex-Mex restaurant in Houston tweeted that it was an “honor” to serve Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The tweet drew a flood of vitriol from the “woke” crowd.
In his op-ed, Scalise disclosed that his office has continued to receive death threats and that some of those have led to arrests.
“I refuse to stand for this, and I will continue to call for an end to it,” he wrote. “A healthy, strong democracy is not possible if anyone lives in fear of expressing their views.”