State Rep. Sarah Anderson (R-Plymouth) was campaigning Sunday when she saw a man kicking yard signs touting her and other GOP candidates.
She jumped from her car and told the man to stop. He refused, Anderson told WCCO, saying he was an “anarchist” and “could do whatever I want.”
So the politician did what any red-blooded American would do: She tried to catch the incident on video.
The sign assailant was having none of that. He cursed her, backed her into the street, and told her to “Go kill yourself.” The man then walked to a nearby BP, presumably to stock up on Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and Mountain Dew, the go-to source of sustenance for any self-respecting anarchists/nut job.
Anderson gave chase in her car, and the man charged her again, leaning through her window and punching her in the arm. As a general rule, this is not a very effective place to punch someone. But “he was irrational,” Anderson said, “just completely irrational.”
The politician bolted.
The sign incident came two days after fellow Republican House candidate Shane Mekeland was punched in the face in St. George Township, northeast of St. Cloud.
Mekeland was campaigning in a bar/restaurant when a much larger man approached. He described the conversation as “amiable” until Mekeland invoked the hallowed name of the “middle class.” The man, we can only assume, did not wish to hear another politician yammering about A) how much he’d do for the middle class or B) how badly his nemesis was hosing the middle class.
So he punched the candidate in the face.
There is no recurring motif among the victims here. Anderson could perhaps be described as a moderate, if said species is not yet extinct. She’s well-considered among Republicans, with a track record of occasionally working on behalf of things like paid family leave, suggesting she may possess some decency.
Mekeland falls decidedly within the Manly Man Wing of the GOP. He gets an A from the NRA, believes Obamacare violates the Constitution, and regards Minnesota’s new third gender “X” option on drivers licenses an attack “on our faith and values.”
“I am fiercely pro-life, pro-family, and pro-Second Amendment,” his website announces.
But his defense of liberty apparently doesn’t extend to the liberty of his face. Mekeland did not fight back. He can, however, take a punch. He would later show symptoms of a concussion.
Mekeland admits the assailant had but vague motive. He described the man as issuing “a typical politically charged statement — not necessarily one way or the other, just a statement in general… It was in reference to politicians not caring about the middle class.”
Since it’s a sentiment harbored by exactly 94 percent of the U.S. population, that doesn’t narrow it down. As for Anderson’s attacker, we’re guessing a legitimate anarchist would be setting his sights higher than kicking roadside signs in Plymouth. The evidence suggests both desperados are more likely members of the Kook Party, rather than acolytes of the Republican-Democrat Duopoly.
Still, Mekeland was quick to blame the “media” and villains de jour “Maxine Waters, Hillary, and Eric Holder” for the rising waters of political violence. (He appears to have never attended a Trump rally.)
In the aftermath, Anderson promises to soldier on. Mekeland says “this is exactly the type of thing that will push me, you and other like-minded people to fight harder.” Neither candidate showed much interest in introspection.
For now, it seems the violence is largely the preserve of nutjobs, be it the mutt who shot up the congressional baseball practice, or the neo-Nazi who ran down a woman in Charlottesville. But for all the differences between left and right, there’s one thing both agree upon: We all despise the politicians.
Surely Anderson and Mekeland were inadvertent victims of this contempt. But they’re also willing workers in the Great Factory of Despair known as the body politic. No one else bears anything close to their “personal responsibility” for the country’s pervasive sense of hopelessness, the feeling that the game is rigged, the shadowy anxiety that America will soon fall like Rome -- though at least we’ll be left with a wider selection of home decorating shows.
Until they’re willing to point fingers inward, rather than outward, the violence will likely spread and escalate.
For now it’s mostly the kooks. When the sane people join in, we’re guessing they’ll punch a whole lot harder.