Maxine Waters wants confrontation.
The California congresswoman, ever controversial, called on her supporters last month to “push back” against members of President Donald Trump’s administrative team, which in her mind means confronting those government employees wherever they’re encountered:
“If you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd, and you push back on them, and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”
Amid an acrid political climate that is becoming increasingly volatile, Maxine Waters is fanning the flames of confrontation and strife.
In San Antonio, 30-year-old Kino Jimenez is more than happy to deliver the exact response that Waters is looking for, and who cares if it’s directed at a 16-year-old kid rather than an administration official closer to his own age?
Jimenez has been arrested, fired from his job, and disgraced in a viral video after ripping a MAGA hat off the head of a teenager in a San Antonio Whataburger, dumping a soft drink on the kid’s head before exiting the restaurant earlier this week.
Welcome to Maxine Waters’ America, where it’s okay to “confront” people and “push back” at them simply because of their political beliefs.
We don’t know whether Jimenez was inspired by Waters, of course. But if it’s okay to tie a shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper to Trump’s disparaging remarks about journalists, it’s okay to tie fools who physically attack teenagers to Waters . . . right?
The truth is that confrontations over political beliefs aren’t new. Every day greets us with new headlines about people who are verbally berated or physically assaulted over something as simple as their political viewpoints. This trend has been growing for a while, as evidenced by the so-called Indivisible group that promoted confrontations of conservative politicians at town hall meetings across America — which prompted Knoxville congressman Jimmy Duncan to announce in February 2017 that he would stop holding town hall meetings.
The confrontations didn’t start with the Indivisible nonsense, either.
There are those who would claim that this is Donald Trump’s America, not Maxine Waters’ America, and that it’s Trump’s divisive approach to governing that prompts hatred and intolerance in us all.
I couldn’t disagree more.
There’s no doubt that Trump is the single most divisive president in American history, and that much of it is his own doing because he can’t keep quiet. This writer has never made excuse for Trump; I’ve criticized him more than once as a low-class individual who uses every opportunity to ostracize anyone and everyone who disagrees with him in the most demeaning ways possible. Regardless of what anyone thinks of Trump’s policies — and I happen to agree with far more of them than I disagree with — his approach to governing is not presidential.
But let’s make sure we’re calling spades spades: The intolerance we’re seeing on the American political scene is not because Donald Trump is president. Donald Trump is president because of the intolerance we’re seeing on the American political scene.
Think about that for a minute.
If I had told you 10 years ago that a reality TV star who mocks physically disabled journalists, women and anyone else who stands in his way could be elected to the office of President of the United States, you would’ve laughed at me.
But the America of 2018 is not the America of 2008, and it’s certainly not the America of 1998 or 1988. In this crazy, mixed-up society in which we live, the political party that has long claimed to be the party of tolerance embraces a divisive individual like Waters — who is the very physical embodiment of intolerance — simply because she is one of theirs.
As a society, we’ve cast off any pretense of political decorum, and we’ve been headed down this road for a number of years. Is it any surprise that we would come to this in a nation where we attempt to shame people for holding political views that we deem inexcusable?
In the name of tolerance, we’ve spent the last decade attempting to shame them by labeling them as bigots and racists. It’s our very own, modern-day Salem witch trial saga. And rather than pause for alarm that the practices we’re engaging in fly in the face of the very tenets of American liberty, we’ve cheered like madmen as these people — viewed as being in the minority and clinging to politically-incorrect viewpoints — have literally been shunned from society, to the point of losing their jobs and having to leave homes they’ve known all their lives.
The pushback is the Trump presidency. People who were sick and tired of being scorned and shamed for their political views found a candidate to rally around. The fact that this candidate just happened to be as loud and boisterous as the other side is a mere consequence of a trend that has been years in the making.
That’s the part of Trump’s 2016 victory that Democrats are still struggling to comprehend. Large swaths of Americans — common, everyday Americans who, contrary to the narrative that too many pundits have attempted to craft, are not racist or bigoted or otherwise deplorable — were simply fed up.
The truth is that Hillary Clinton was a weak candidate — perhaps as weak a candidate as Democrats had fielded in 32 years. Marco Rubio would’ve beaten her in a one-on-one race, and so could have at least a couple of other Republicans who sought the nomination in 2016. But the scenario was already in motion. In truth, it had been in motion since well before Trump threw his red MAGA hat into the ring.
And because this is America, where we always have to out-do the other person, we have a Trump presidency.
While we’re calling spades spades, let’s admit that Donald Trump is Maxine Waters. As a candidate, Trump was urging his supporters to physically confront protesters at his rallies. It’s a tactic that is strikingly similar to the one employed by Waters. But let’s also give Trump credit for toning down the rhetoric once he was actually governing, something Waters has proven incapable of doing.
I’m not sure where it stops. I suspect it won’t, not anytime soon. I suspect that the Trump style of presidential politics will become the new norm, that this new practice of physically confronting the opposition is here to stay, and that the merry-go-round will continue until this society of ours has gone completely off the rails — or until we’ve actually descended into a real, honest-to-goodness civil war, which might be the same thing.
One thing I do know: the people who could help influence change aren’t helping.
The same mainstream news media that prides itself on covering the Trump administration with a fine-tooth comb, carefully examining every tweet and spoken statement for a modicum of the same dishonesty that has been shrugged off with previous presidents, is quick to excuse people like Waters.
Even as some from her own party have sought to distance themselves from Waters, the media has largely handled her with kid gloves. USA Today waxed courageously about Waters last week, praising her handling of supposed death threats towards her without identifying the threats.
Back in San Antonio, a local television station reported that the teen whose MAGA hat was stolen and whose drink was dumped on his head by a 30-year-old bully brought the attack on himself by making racial comments. The entire story was based on one eyewitness who has since been discredited — to the point that the news station removed his actual comments from its story, and at least one sister station deleted the story entirely. Despite that, the station left up the original story, and the damage had already been done, anyway. The teen’s supposed racial remarks had already become part of the narrative, thanks to what is looking increasingly like journalistic malpractice by a single TV station.
And what if the teen did make racially-insensitive remarks with his buddies? What we should be saying is that his momma should’ve raised him better. Or, better yet, we should be repeating the mantra that all of our mommas taught all of us in our own youth, the one about sticks and stones breaking our bones. Words hurt more than that old saying would have us believe, but they certainly don’t justify a 30-year-old man physically attacking a kid half his age.
In our modern America, though, the one where it’s okay to confront people because they think differently than you do, age is apparently not a limiting barrier. That’s not okay. And, yes, Maxine, you’re at fault. You and so many others. This is your America. It’s what you asked for.