By now some Americans, at least one or two, are aware that there is little that terrifies Republicans more than the people they are elected and paid to represent. That level of fear likely matches Republicans absolute disregard for the U.S. Constitution except for the 2nd Amendment. State-level Republicans used to cherish the 10th Amendment, but the chatter that the Trump administration is going to punish states that voted to decriminalize recreational marijuana use puts that hypocritical Republican adoration of “states’ rights” to rest.
Since Trump lucked out and got to move into the White House, Republicans at all levels have combined their hatred of the Constitution, particularly the 1st Amendment, and fear of the people into some unconstitutional actions; namely, punishing people for exercising their right to “gather peaceably for a redress of their grievances.” It was just reported by Marc Belisle that a couple of weeks ago a United States Senator took the next logical tyrannical step and threatened to arrest a constituent for asking for a town hall meeting to allow “the people” to air their grievances. Seriously, this is exactly what Trump and the GOP meant when they promised to make America great. Many people, and it is many people, comprehend that what the Trump Republicans are doing is making America fascist after 239 years as a representative democracy.
The United States Senator, a frightened Republican named Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, is sick and tired of his constituents requesting a town hall gathering to do what constituents have been doing as of late; ask why Republicans are on a tear to break the government and eliminate services the people are paying for. Apparently, Johnson has been “missing in action” in Wisconsin despite “his people pestering him” to come and talk about what the Hell Republicans are doing to them. In fact, the Daily Cardinal reported that Johnson’s constituents have gone to very “creative lengths” to lure their Senator to “interact with Wisconsin voters.” In one case:
“Roughly 500 constituents gathered at what was termed an “empty chair town hall” for Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., at the First Congregational Church in Madison Wednesday night.”
Of course the purpose of an “empty chair town hall” was to make a point that the “Daily Cardinal” was more than happy to report; that Senator Johnson has been missing in action because he is frightened senseless of not just “the people,” but his own constituency. The Cardinal reported his absence (empty chair) at the town hall likely so Johnson would read or hear about it and feel a sense of anything but anger. But it was anger in Johnson’s Senate office that boiled over when they issued a cease and desist letter on official Senate stationary to a weary constituent threatening them with arrest by the Capitol Police for having the temerity to make phone calls to Johnson’s Senate office requesting that their Senator do his job and meet with his constituents. The letter said:
This Cease and Desist letter is to inform you that any further communication from you to U.S. Senator Ron Johnson’s office can only be done in writing. This means that you are not to call or visit any of Senator Johnson’s staff or any of his offices at any time.
Our office has done all that we can to assist you with your concerns. This letter acts as written notice of our expectation for you to discontinue your unwarranted telephone calls and office visits.
If you fail to comply with this notice, then we will have no other alternative but to contact the United States Capitol Police and report your noncompliance.
Ron Johnson’s staff
Now first; the idea that the U.S. Capitol Police can, or will, do any arresting of one, or any, of Johnson’s constituent(s) living in Wisconsin, or anywhere for that matter, for calling their Senate representative isn’t even bizarre or absurd; it is nothing short of plainly batshit insanity. There is no such thing as a law against a constituent contacting their congressional representative; no matter how often or how annoying hearing the voice of the people may be. One thing is crystal clear, though; this idea of threatening a constituent with arrest, although shocking, is the new normal since Trump got to move into the White House and institute “militant authoritarian responses” to everything, but especially an American’s “expression of democracy.”
As Mr. Belisle rightly noted, it is a glaring display of Trump’s and Republicans’ “outright contempt for democracy and Americans who try to exercise it.” It is the GOP’s new normal and an alarming sign that tyrannical authoritarianism is rampant among Republicans now that they have a happy fascist living in the White House.
The Wisconsin constituent is likely unafraid, and equally unimpressed, by Johnson’s show of tyranny because they are just a minuscule fraction of the millions of Americans who have deluged their congressional representatives’ offices nationwide with an “unprecedented volume of calls on a range of issues.” The phone calls are in addition to angry constituents jamming town halls since Trump moved in the White House to express their outrage over Republican threats to eliminate the Affordable Care Act and “gut” the EPA, Social Security and Medicare.
Johnson may be the first U.S. Senator to threaten a citizen with arrest for exercising their constitutional right to express their grievances, but he is not the first Republican to take action to punish expressions of democracy. In at least ten Republican-led states lawmakers are attempting to criminalize peaceable protests; a move that is counter to the 1st Amendment and thus patently unconstitutional.
In Arizona recently Republicans in the state senate voted to give law enforcement authorization to seize protesters personal property and assets if someone among the masses commit an untoward act. All it would take is one idiot breaking a storefront window, even by accident, to allow law enforcement to punish all participants and organizers by arresting them and seizing their personal assets. Fortunately for Arizonans with a belief they have a Constitution guaranteeing their right to protest, Arizona’s house failed to follow the senate and defeated the fascist legislation.
These incidents all go to substantiate the earlier statement that Republicans are terrified, and plainly hate, the Constitution and democracy nearly as much as they do the people they are elected to serve; not intimidate or threaten with arrest for calling or visiting their senator’s office, or seizing their assets because some moron threw a brick through a store’s window during an otherwise peaceful protest. In Senator Ron Johnson’s case, he may be the first to actually threaten a constituent with arrest for reaching out to seek a redress of their grievances, whatever they may be, but he is not remotely alone among Republicans facing the wrath of the people.
Besides being American citizens and constituents, they are people who are not going to be intimidated by any authoritarian tyranny. Not because they are social conservatives or liberals, but because they are “real Americans” and patriots who know what will happen if they are prohibited from exercising their Constitutional rights; and that horrifies Republicans more than any batch of online petitions or fundraising efforts or Democrats giving fiery sermons or storming the Senate to drop some kind of bombs. Bombs don’t frighten Republicans, but angry Americans, however, terrify them senseless and incite them to further tyranny.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.