We learned much about some views of Republican legislators in the past few weeks — perhaps a few things we long suspected but were loath to admit. While one always wants to see the best in human nature, sometimes the ugly truth comes out. It is perplexing and it runs entirely contrary to Abraham Lincoln's hope that we might find “the better angels of our nature.”
While I would not categorically say misogyny is a character flaw held by all Republicans (or by some Democrats) it is clear that, as we saw in Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, this disturbing stain ran deeply throughout the committee, much of the Senate (at least on a partisan basis) and of course all the way to the top of the administration.
The large, vocal and heartfelt nationwide protests against nearly every aspect of how the committee hearings were conducted and the clear intent of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to ram through the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh without adequate vetting were clearly justified.
It was also quite clear that the presence of protesters, particularly those who surrounded Capitol Hill, infuriated the Republicans. While Sen. Mitch McConnell claimed his party would not be intimidated by “these people,” they clearly were. The “elevator screamers” certainly moved Sen. Jeff Flake to push for an FBI investigation of the sexual assault charges against Judge Kavanaugh.
Trump and the Republicans call them an “angry mob.” Seemingly anyone protesting the policies of the Republican Party, be they Democratic legislators or ordinary people exercising their First Amendment rights, constitute an angry mob.
I wonder, do these Republicans consider all protesters participants of angry mobs? Would those participating in the Boston Tea Party be so characterized, or those marching in Tiananmen Square, the Prague Spring uprising or the tea party movement? Or is it just those “mobs” that marched to Zuccotti Park during the Occupy Wall Street, protested Trump's travel ban, the Me Too movement, Black Lives Matter, the Freedom Riders, the Wisconsin Act 10 protesters, the United Farm Workers or the American Indian Movement protesting for indigenous sovereignty?
By my guess, the standards of the current Republican Party and its supporters would indicate that only protesters opposing the policies of the Republican Party or the twittering of the president would be classified as angry mobs or anti-American. Protest against the Kavanaugh nomination and you are part of an angry mob; protest in favor and it is “a beautiful thing to see.”
We have heard that some protesters are “very fine people,” — as long as they are part of Trump’s base. Or if they are protesting “government overreach,” especially if enacted during the Obama administration. We also know that when conservatives exercise political power it is by definition legitimate, when their opponents do, it is not.
Sorry, but that’s not the way things are supposed to work in a democracy. I am not sure if they are still in vogue or not, but I have been in “free speech pens” — that is not free speech. We all have rights, we are all entitled to our opinion. The government is our government, obligated to listen to everyone. No matter if a particular political party, or the president or any particular media outlet disagrees, you are entitled to and have the right to voice your opinion.
Jim Goodman is a dairy farmer from Wonewoc, Wisconsin.
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