Republicans in Washington and conservative media are working hard to paint Democrats as a dangerous “angry mob” that should not be handed political power, but as usual, this pre-midterms strategy is more about hypocrisy and projection than anything close to legitimate.
As Eric Levitz noted in New York Magazine, the nasty confirmation process that ultimately landed Brett Kavanaugh a seat on the Supreme Court provided Republicans all the ammunition they needed to cast their rivals as a lawless mob, hellbent on destruction.
> This is the narrative that Republican lawmakers are pushing in the wake of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court. A majority of Americans might think they just saw the Senate GOP install a temperamentally unfit perjurer — who probably committed sexual assault — onto the Supreme Court. But Republicans believe they can persuade the public that what they really saw was a Democratic mob’s lawless attempt to destroy an innocent man by any means necessary.
> Democrats “have encouraged mob rule,” Judiciary committee chair Chuck Grassley lamented from the Senate floor Friday, before proceeding to tell Fox Business that he believed the protesters were mercenaries employed by George Soros, as “it fits in his attack mode and how he uses his billions and billions of resources.” Utah senator Orrin Hatch echoed this assessment, decrying the self-proclaimed sexual assault survivors who’d gathered in the capitol as “a paid mob trying to prevent senators from doing the will of their constituents.” Marco Rubio, meanwhile, criticized the media for treating these (entrepreneurial) anarchists with undue sympathy, tweeting, “Imagine the coverage on cable news if an angry mob of conservatives stormed the steps of the Supreme Court building.”
But in reality, Republicans are in no way averse to angry mobs or lawless demonstrations.
One look at the Bundy family makes clear that the GOP merely holds itself and its adherents as beneficiaries of the right to protest — not even peacefully — or fight perceived government tyranny.
> When the far-right rancher Cliven Bundy protested federal land policy by assembling a heavily armed militia — which then threatened to shoot Bureau of Land Management (BLM) workers who refused to obey their orders — many Republican lawmakers rallied to Bundy’s defense; Ted Cruz even suggested that this insurrection against federal law enforcement was an understandable response to the Obama administration’s “jackboot of authoritarianism.” Years later, Bundy’s son Ammon led an armed occupation of a national wildlife refuge — demanding, among other things, that the government release friends of his who’d been convicted of arson. Over the summer, Donald Trump rewarded this (ostensibly not moblike) form of protest by using his clemency powers to honor Ammon’s request.
And pro-life protesters, who verbally assault women entering clinics such as Planned Parenthood? They’re fine, too.
> And, of course, Republicans celebrated tea party protesters for deploying the exact same “in-your-face” protest tactics that GOP lawmakers are currently clutching their pearls over — even as those same lawmakers continue to venerate pro-life activists who spend their free time verbally accosting pregnant teens at Planned Parenthoods.
Republicans have made one principle abundantly clear, Levitz writes: “When conservatives exercise political power it is by definition legitimate, when their opponents do, it is not.”
> When a sheriff’s office headed by Joe Arpaio tortured inmates at tent prisons, terrorized Latino constituents, arrested journalists who reported critically on their activities, blackmailed a man into staging an assassination attempt against Arpaio, and openly defied court orders, it was acting as a “tireless champion” of “the rule of law.”
> When reactionary senior citizens scream at Democratic lawmakers to get government’s hands off their Medicare — or a heavily-armed militia challenges the state’s monopoly on violence for a cause the conservative movement supports — then they are civic-minded Americans who know that dissent is the highest form of patriotism.
As for Democrats?
> When sexual assault survivors, liberals, and labor unions protest the Senate’s decision to confirm a Supreme Court justice — over majoritarian opposition — they are an unruly mob doing the bidding of their sinister paymasters.