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The Politics of Violence

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

The ink isn’t even dry from President Obama’s signature on the health care bill, and already Democrats are trying to divert attention away from their unpopular power grab. Democrats are drawing attention to reports of hate-filled voicemail messages, vandalism and threats of personal violence in an effort to demonize opponents and marginalize critics.

Threats of violence against anyone should always be taken seriously. Whenever Congress, or any elected official, deals with particularly contentious issues, attendant threats of violence and intimidation are inevitable. Unfortunately, both sides of the political spectrum include those who rely on physical bullying to advance their agenda. Vitriol has become a favorite tool in politics.

Democrats are particularly adept at publicizing isolated threats and insinuating that all opponents of the health care bill are responsible. Demonizing all opposition as hooligans, they attempt to drum up public sympathy. But it’s hard to overlook the convenience of such claims of victimhood so soon after the healthcare freight train steamed through Congress last weekend.

Americans are smart enough to see through the ploy of redirecting public wrath against Republicans—the only members of Congress who actually represented the majority of Americans in their opposition to the health care takeover. The media are complicit in this plot to divert attention and demonize opposition. The main stream media spends countless hours examining angry voicemail messages or unverified accounts of racial slurs yelled at members of Congress. But there was a glaring absence of coverage when a union thug violently attacked tea party participant Kenneth Gladney in Missouri last summer.

How hypocritical of sanctimonious Democrats to call upon their Republican peers to denounce the very bullying tactics their own constituency employs so frequently and effectively.

Democrats are aware that an angry public response is understandable considering the bitter, divisive manner in which the health care bill was rammed through Congress. Had there been contemplative, open debate, and true bipartisanship, the public reaction would have been quite different.

As Nancy Pelosi promised, only once the bill was passed does the public learn what’s really in it—or not in it. “Healthcare for the children” was merely a slogan used to pass sweeping reform that somehow omitted coverage for children with preexisting medical conditions—but that will be resolved in follow-up regulations, promises the White House. Such ineptitude—or worse, deceit—merits public outcry.

One of the main reasons America’s Founders established the legislative process with so many steps was to maximize public input and ensure a thoughtful, measured response to the country’s problems. What we witnessed with the health care bill was the complete opposite: minimal or no public input, closed-door negotiations, political payoffs, parliamentary trickery, and expedited votes.

Nancy Pelosi’s march around the capitol, enormous gavel in hand, was a petulant, in- your-face act of defiance that further incensed the public. That gavel symbolized the power she wielded with impunity as she pounded her caucus into submission. In light of such arrogance, it’s a little too convenient for Democrats to so quickly cry victim when they face their constituents’ wrath—especially when that wrath consists mostly of angry phone calls that are simply part and parcel of being an elected official.

The claims of victimhood ring hollow. Perhaps we’ve grown cynical. It’s understandable in a political culture where perception trumps substance. Manipulation and demagoguery reign supreme. The American people are tired of such insincerity. Cry wolf too often, and voters will really give Democrats something to cry about next Election Day.

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