“Political Thuggery, Plain and Simple”

“Political Thuggery, Plain and Simple”

Today the Indivisible Group in the 48th Congressional district convened in yet another attempt to get the attention of Dana Rohrabacher, congressman in absentia. As has been customary, the doors to the congressman’s office have been locked, as the congressional staff sits behind the locked door. The Huntington Beach Police have been consistently called into service in anticipation of the group’s arrival, despite the fact that the group is merely making as best an attempt as it can to find someone in their congressional representative’s office to simply listen to their concerns. The focal point of the group’s activity is to engage the congressman to hold a town hall meeting where all of their concerns may find a forum. As the weeks have gone on, it becomes more and more clear that the town hall represents a demand that the congressman will evade and avoid indefinitely. It seems, however, that the interplay between congressman and constituents is more than a basic rejection of a request for a forum. The antics and tactics employed by the Rohrabacher staff to dismiss his own constituents is a tale of weaseling and strategy, of propaganda and press manipulation, of dishonesty and abuse of power. Pretty much what you might expect from a member of Congress, if you are among the deeply cynical, like myself. But I want better for my county, my district, my family and neighbors. Laying aside my cynicism, I want better from my government.

Today’s coverage of our action by the OC Register offers a strange narrative of a conflict that rises to the level of a “tussle,” as a two-year old girl was knocked down by a door that swings out into the hallway where the constituents were gathering to deliver snide Valentine’s Day greetings to their congressional representative who refuses to address their concerns. Apparently the staffer opening the door fell down and claimed injury—unconsciousness and paramedics and hospital visits. The incident is unfortunate, whether it is wholly exaggerated or downright false. Rohrabacher issued a press release calling his constituents a “mob,” who call themselves, “with supreme hypocrisy, by the name ‘Indivisible.’ In fact, they are bent on dividing the nation, defying the will of voters and undermining the legitimacy of the election. These holier-than-thou obstructionists will be held responsible for this outrageous assault. They are exposing themselves for what they are — enemies of American self-government and democracy.”

The piece in the Register does less damage to the face of the group, but the story certainly sensationalizes what should be a story of voters seeking representation and the conniving done by a United States congressman to both avoid answering to his constituents and to marginalize them by creating an inaccurate if not patently false narrative that paints us as outlaws and anarchists and agitators, playing on the strings of the cliché that energizes his base. When I downloaded the Indivisible Guide, I had no idea I would be stepping on these landmines of political warfare, nor did I anticipate that the game would be played by such dirty players.

As a fledgling group, we are still finding our way. We need to develop better internal communications to ensure that calls for action can reach the entirety of the group, and we need to be able to gauge our engagement. We need to help each other express ourselves in a manner that is constructive, and does more to further our cause than undermine it. We need to learn from experienced activists who engage successfully in peaceful resistance. We need to be very mindful of the fact that our friends in our congressional district want to prove that we are a fringe element and therefore have no credibility. We must be aware that the press can get it wrong. We must accept that peaceful resistance will expose us to humiliation and other vulnerabilities. We must control the narrative, always. We need to help each other take the higher ground as we fight together. We have to carry the flag. And I mean literally, every time we gather. It doesn’t belong to only one party, and when we do we show we are Americans, not a mob, and not enemies of America, but the remnant advocates for our democracy.

While I never could have anticipated the deviousness and wretchedness that we would be met with from our own congressman, this is the landscape we are operating in. To be accused of ‘political thuggery,’ as Rohrabacher did of us, is not a characterization that I will let stand. Not while his Twitter feed is a case study in actual political thuggery. Not while his staff is intent on painting his constituents as an outlaw mob. Not while the GOP is flaming out. Not while the Executive Branch is having a fire sale on decency and competence. Not while the rule of law seems to be impossible to energize our elected officials to seek. Not while we stand on our principles of decency and duty to our republic. So let us hold on to the fire, and channel our passion into the work of organizing, as we commit to demonstrating our standing as agents of good. We are not a mob. Nor are we political thugs. We came to end thuggery.

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One Reply to ““Political Thuggery, Plain and Simple””

  1. Watch the video and then look at the photos the reporter took and you will see, it was the staffer fling open the door who caused her own fall, and the door was open wider but no tussle ensued.

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