Demonstrators angered that Americans have turned their backs on the liberal-left agenda are trading earnest discussion for angry rhetoric, and sometimes violence. When protests break the law, ruffians who fancy themselves above the law are surprised to find themselves treated like common criminals. Democratic societies traditionally show a degree of tolerance for the excesses of political conflict, but patience is running out and the system is striking back.
Code Pink protesters have been a common sight for years on Capitol Hill, popping up in congressional hearings in eye-catching costumes to wave placards and loudly denounce a speaker, topic or trend. But last week a jury in the District of Columbia convicted three members of having disrupted the congressional confirmation hearings for Jeff Sessions.
Desiree Fairooz, a disrupter dressed in a pink Lady Liberty get-up, was found guilty of parading or demonstrating on Capitol grounds and disorderly conduct, for breaking out in a cackle of derisive laughter at the testimony of Sen. Richard Shelby, Mr. Sessions’ Senate colleague from Alabama. Two men in Ku Klux Klan robes, who kept their silence, were nevertheless convicted of parading. All three could face a year in jail.
Sometimes laughter is the best medicine but frustration with government is no laughing matter, especially when it threatens to become violent. A national survey by the Pew Research Center finds that trust in government stands at a record low. Only 20 percent of respondents trust the government to do what is right all or most of the time. Another 68 percent say they trust government some of the time, and 11 percent say they never do.
A change in governing party — which occurred with the election of Donald Trump and continued Republican control of Congress — hasn’t done much to improve that. For the first time since George H.W. Bush was elected in 1988, almost twice as many Republicans than Democrats say they trust government. With the unexpected defeat of Hillary Clinton, Democratic trust in government has plummeted to the lowest level in 60 years. The electorate is riding a seesaw — when the fortunes of one party go up, the other’s come down.
Dealing with loss is a part of life but some disappointed liberals try to assuage their grief by dealing violence in the streets. As Washington marked the time-honored tradition of inaugurating a new president in January, bands of black-hooded rioters tried to wreck the occasion by trashing businesses and harassing police near the White House, with hundreds of arrests.
The District of Columbia is an overwhelming Democratic stronghold, but the city met the mischief with resolute prosecution. Dane Powell, a Florida man, pleaded guilty to felony rioting and assault for breaking windows and stoning cops in the wake of the Trump inauguration. He could go to prison for six years. In all, 212 defendants face similar felony charges.
Political protest is a venerable American tradition, but so is the gracious acceptance of the democratic process. There is no denying the nation is currently afloat in a partisan quagmire. The Trump election has left Americans disoriented, angry and sometimes violent. Excesses that venture beyond the bounds of law only proves they are not qualified to be citizens. They might learn something from resolute upholders of law and order.
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