The Collapse of Civility

Between March 8th and March 12th, we witnessed the path we are traveling politically, and it isn’t pretty. It began when a Breitbart reporter was forced to the ground by Trump's campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. A simple apology would have sufficed since Breitbart has been one of leadership for the Trump candidacy and Trump’s nationalist populism. Corey Lewandowski called Ms. Fields a liar and delusional after initially admitting that he may have roughed her up and Trump joined with similar criticism. Violence has become a trend at Trump’s rallies, and this was the week that it all started to explode in Chicago.

The Trump team's treatment of Ms. Fields shows a constant disdain of Trump for the media, the same media that covered his campaign as if it was the only campaign in town. Breitbart was the battering ram for Trump's campaign. Only one of its editors, Ben Shaprio, opposed the Trump candidacy. (Shapiro and Fields both resigned from Breitbart a week after the Lewandowski incident with Fields.) Breitbart did very little to support its own reporters, and at least one reporter devoted articles challenging her version and taking Trump’s side on the issue. Maybe Breitbart understood the message that Trump's campaign was sending, play ball with us or else.

Andrew McCarthy noted about the Trump campaign: 

Trump has encouraged physical battery at his campaign events, even telling supporters he’d pay their legal fees if they get arrested for assaulting dissenters…Trump has continued to fan these flames even after it has become obvious that some of his supporters are acting on the invitation to resort to violence. Incitement to violence is a crime; incitement to violence at a large rally is incitement to riot — a crime that can get people badly injured or even killed. And it’s about more than incitement…Trump is not a conservative, so it is perhaps unknown to him that media hostility is something conservatives in a free society learn to deal with — even to become more effective communicators because of. What should really frighten people is that Breitbart is Trump-friendly media.

Trump has made it clear that he wants to overturn present laws protecting journalists and make it easier to sue news outlet, the goal to silence media that opposed his goals. He questions Citizen United (which was more of a First Amendment case expanding what political organizations can say in their ads) and adopts much of the leftist criticism of the decision.

Friday, March 11, the left shut Trump’s rally down in Chicago. As Powerline Paul Mirengoff noted

With no sense of irony, the protesters, having successfully shut Trump down, chanted “this is what democracy looks like.” Many of them also chanted “Bernie,” suggesting that they really mean “this is what Democratic Socialism looks like”…The left is attempting to “shut all the way down” the leading contender for the presidential nomination of one of our two major political parties. If the left has its way, Trump will not be able to speak in public. He will have to run the modern equivalent of a front-porch campaign.

Mirengoff's point about the left is poignant since the left's goal is shut down debate not expand it from opposing Citizen United to shutting down the Republican candidate. We are getting a glimpse of the left evolving from Democratic Socialism to National Socialism.

In 2011, I noted about the Democratic opposition to Scott Walker: 

In Wisconsin, we saw an attempt to intimidate lawmakers beginning with screaming protesters, legislators who left the state to keep a vote from occurring, and thugs who would show up at legislators’ homes. The goal was to create chaos while presenting the mob as the victim, and this is only the beginning. As an editorial noted, “Thousands of screaming protesters provided America with a preview of the union mobocracy coming soon to a legislature, city council or school board near you. State, county and city governments across the country might well find themselves facing the same confrontational tactics that caused havoc in Wisconsin.

The left has decided to adopt tactics of the 60’s, moving away from political speech and toward confrontational and even violence similar to groups like the Students for a Democratic Society. Outside agitators moved into Wisconsin by SEIU, Obama’s Organizing for America, and organizations created out of the dustbin of what was ACORN.

Demonstrators broke windows, forced open doors leading to mob actions designed to interfere with the legislation process and even death threats were issued to Republican legislators. This is gangster politics, gangster government beginning at the top and all through what can no longer be considered the loyal opposition.

This continued with the Occupy Wall Street in which sexual assaults and the destruction of private properties were part of their tactics and as I observed, “For the left, it is hitting the street with no mercy shown to the opponents. It is combat to the finish and no compromise, but expect only surrender to their agenda. The Doobie Brothers use to sing of “Taking it to the streets” and Mick Jagger once asked “What can a poor boy do except sing in a rock and roll band” while singing an homage to the street fighting man. Occupy Wall Street is the precursor to the rioters in Europe when government threaten to cut their benefits and the question, when does the real street fighting men show up?”

The left street fighting men are back and many of these individuals are Bernie Sanders supporters: adopting previous tactics to shut down debate. So are we facing the two parties of the left in this campaign ready to take it to the street? Trump threatened Sanders campaign, maybe we will start showing up at your events.

As Paul Mirengoff, concluded, “I have criticized Donald Trump for what looks to me like latent authoritarian. But the left’s authoritarian streak has become patent. And by “the left,” I don’t just mean street protesters. I mean the Obama administration, including its Department of Justice. This state of affairs doesn’t excuse Trump. If anything, it makes any flirtation with authoritarianism on his part more disturbing. If America can’t have two political parties willing to stand up for freedom of expression, it must have one.”

Now we learn once again what is at stake: freedom of speech. We need candidates who understand that reality.


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