Woodbury Congressman Jason Lewis is frightened and under siege. The world, it seems, is becoming quite perilous for the Washington elite. Especially the conservative variety.
In an opinion piece for Fox News – “Violent political threats are serious and starting to spin dangerously out of control” – the Republican warns that 2018 America is starting to look like the 1960s.
“Instead of the Weather Underground, the Black Panthers or the Students for a Democratic Society, we now see socialist extremist groups like Antifa once again advocating violence against their political opponents,” Lewis writes.
“I’ve never experienced a more toxic environment for free speech than now.”
Forgive his hyperbole. He’s a former talk radio host. Outrage is his vocation.
Though present-day America is nothing like the ‘60s, when the nation was awash in bombings, riots, and assassinations, Lewis does have a point. He cites the shooting of Congressman Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana) at a baseball practice. The threat called in to Florida Rep. Brian Mast’s office, in which a nutjob announced he would “find the congressman’s kids and kill them.”
Yet these are more aberration than norm, the sad byproduct of living in the most violent industrialized country in the world.
And Lewis has never shown much interest in violence that isn’t directed at the conservative elite. When it comes to far more prevalent forms – say, the 217 school shootings since Columbine – he’s been little more than a thoughts-and-prayers guy. He even voted to remove rules restricting gun sales to the severely mentally ill.
His bigger concern is that life for the elite is getting uncomfortable. The rabble is showing up at restaurants and movie theaters in videotaped confrontations for all the country to see. Republican leaders, so brave and tell-it-like-it-is in their scripted television dramas, are being reduced to cowering silence by angry moms with babes swaddled in their arms.
The D.C. bubble, their safe space from which they sell the country to the highest bidder – see Lewis, Jason – has been breached.
Ever the victim, Lewis loves to recall an incident from last August, when “dangerous” protestors showed up at his Woodbury home. They wanted to discuss his vote to cut Medicaid and return insurers’ right to screw people with pre-existing conditions.
This menacing group of 20 or so largely consisted of middle-aged moms, health care workers, a few young activists, and a man in a wheelchair. They chanted for a few minutes, read from a letter they wanted to deliver, then departed, careful not to step on the congressman’s lawn.
Call it the country club version of a “violent political threat.”
Of course, he could have prevented the protest by, say, actually meeting with said constituents. But the modern politician -- conservatives especially – prefers not to speak to those they purport to represent.
During his first 18 months in office, Lewis has allowed but a single day for constituents to ask unscripted, uncensored questions. Attendance required his office approve a ticket in advance, with no explanation of who would get one and who would not. He reserved small venues in Lakeville, Wabasha, and Jordon to limit the crowds. And though there were empty seats, he refused entrance to those waiting outside.
These are not the actions of man wishing to serve his people. These are barricades erected by a noble who senses that the sanctity of his safe space is threatened.
Life is a lot more pleasing when you’re ensconced in a cocoon populated only by lobbyists, donors, yes-men, and fellow politicians. This is the world of obsequious cheers, fawning visitors waiting in the lobby, big checks arriving daily in the mail.
Here, you can safely molest Mother Nature, deliver more agony to the ill, throw another rock on the burden of the working poor. The cocoon will tell you you’re pretty and shower you with baubles. You never have to face your victims, nor witness the pain you’ve inflicted.
In his essay, Lewis laments “any group, movement or political candidate willing to say or do anything for the sake of returning to power.” He seems wholly unaware that he’s describing most members of Congress. Including Jason Lewis.
Yet he wonders why he must now live in fear, aghast that a man of his stature might dine in Woodbury, only to be confronted by someone who doesn’t think he’s pretty.