Mainstream media journalists have begun to justify the militancy, and violence, of the Democrats’ so-called “resistance” by referring to the Tea Party’s protests at town hall meetings and elsewhere in 2009-10.
But there is no parallel and no moral equivalence between a nonpartisan grass-roots opposition movement that wanted to broaden public debate, and a hyper-partisan “community organizer” campaign that rejects normal politics, aims to disrupt public debate and stifle free speech.
As I documented in my book Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, the movement had its roots in opposition to President George W. Bush’s bailout of Wall Street, emerged in the wake of President Barack Obama’s disastrous “stimulus,” and became a potent political movement in opposition to Obamacare. President Obama had wanted his health care bill passed by the late summer of 2009, and sent Democratic members of Congress to their districts to explain a bill they had not read.
To many Americans, this was the third in a series of major pieces of legislation that was being forced down their throats with no real debate. They arrived at town hall meetings to ask questions — and, yes, to protest.
But the real disruption was on the other side, as Democrats organized activists to stifle public opposition. At one town hall in suburban Chicago, for example, left-wing activists conspired to block members of the public from asking questions — and were caught red-handed on video.
To the extent there was violence at the town hall meetings, it was almost always carried out against Tea Party members.
Meanwhile, the mainstream media vilified the Tea Party, playing up Democrats’ accusations that it was a racist organization. The worst of many examples of media misinformation was the false accusation that protesters at an anti-Obamacare rally on Capitol Hill had used the “N-word” against members of the Congressional Black Caucus — a claim for which no evidence was ever found.
Since the midterm sweep of 2010, Democrats have been looking for their own Tea Party — and the media have been eager to help, doting on the new “movements” with generous media coverage while covering up their violence and extremist rhetoric.
First there was Occupy Wall Street in 2011, then Black Lives Matter in 2014-16, and now the “Resistance” — a name hinting at the Hunger Games and ultimately at the Second World War, implying that our elected government is a totalitarian regime.
After Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) had to leave a town hall last week under police guard, and leftists rioted to stop Breitbart Tech editor Mio Yiannopoulos from speaking at UC Berkeley, Republican politicians, understandably, fear for their safety, as Politico’s Rachel Bade reports.
But Bade writes, erroneously: “Protesters have disrupted town halls and other public events, jeering and yelling at Republicans just as conservatives did to Democrats when they were writing the law eight years ago.”
There is no equivalence whatsoever. The Tea Party showed up at town halls to be heard; the “Resistance” is showing up to stop people from being heard. Moreover, they are doing so against a background of lies by the Democratic Party, which is sowing fear with defamatory e-mail campaigns warning supporters about a “white supremacist” presence in the White House, complete with the sort of “targeting” imagery the media belatedly complained about after the Tucson mass shooting in 2011.
There is a path back to political relevance, and perhaps political power, for the left. It is simple: find policies and messages that appeal to the sort of voters who once backed Obama but switched to Donald Trump last November.
They are creating justifications for violence, which false comparisons to the Tea Party only reinforce.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. His new book, How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.