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Raymond writes: "A group of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher's (R-CA) constituents went to his office on Tuesday to deliver Valentine's cards. They go every Tuesday now, asking Rohrabacher to hold a town hall meeting in his district. But now, after a confused tussle in the hallway involving a 2-year old and a 71-year-old-woman, Rohrabacher is now accusing them of engaging in 'political thuggery, pure and simple.'"

Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-California). (photo: Getty)
Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-California). (photo: Getty)

Congressman Says Constituents Asking for a Town Hall Are 'Enemies' of Democracy

By Laurel Raymond, ThinkProgress

16 February 17


He also accused them of “political thuggery.”

group of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s (R-CA) constituents went to his office on Tuesday to deliver Valentine’s cards. They go every Tuesday now, asking Rohrabacher to hold a town hall meeting in his district.

But now, after a confused tussle in the hallway involving a 2-year old and a 71-year-old-woman, Rohrabacher is now accusing them of engaging in “political thuggery, pure and simple.”

The delegation is one of many grassroots groups around the country organizing around the Indivisible guide, which is a how-to manual for people looking to have a more effective voice in government. It was put together by former congressional staffers after Trump’s victory.

Like many of the other Indivisible groups, the Orange County Indivisible group has been met with scorn and accusations of not being ‘real’ constituents. For the past three weeks, at Rohrabacher’s office the door has been closed and locked, and they have slid their documentation underneath.

Two weeks ago, they were met with the police. And this Tuesday, as a 2-year-old girl slid a valentine under the door on Tuesday, one of Rohrabacher’s staffers opened it, hitting her in the head and knocking her to the ground.

According to local reporting, one of the constituents then grabbed the door and tugged on it, causing 71-year old district director Kathleen Staunton, who was on the other side of the door, to lose her footing and fall. A spokesman for Rohrabacher’s office told media that she later fell unconscious and had to go to the hospital.

In a video of the immediate aftermath, the little girl can be heard crying, as visiting constituents apologize, and one of them helps Rohrabacher’s staffer up. The door is then closed, and the group leaves.

“I don’t think anybody from either side was trying to hurt anybody,” the mother of the young girl told a local reporter.

According to Mike Lisenbery, one of the organizers of the Indivisible group, the group visiting Rohrabacher’s office was predominantly composed of older retired women. This account is borne out in photographs of the group. The video shows that there were about 10 people in the hallway.

In his press release, however, Rohrabacher paints the incident as malicious and characterizes the activists as an unruly mob of thugs.

“I am outraged beyond words that protesters who mobbed my Huntington Beach office violently knocked down my faithful district director, Kathleen Staunton, causing her to be hospitalized,” Rohrabacher is quoted by saying.

“Though the protesters think of themselves as idealists, they engaged in political thuggery, pure and simple. These people do not want, as they’ve claimed, to hold a town hall meeting with me. These are unruly activists on whom the lessons of civility and democratic participation have been lost,” he continues. “These holier-than-thou obstructionists will be held responsible for this outrageous assault. They are exposing themselves for what they are — enemies of American self-government and democracy.”

Rohrabacher’s fiery response has flabbergasted his visitors, as did his one-sided depiction of the events. The only mention of the two-year-old is a passively-framed aside: “In the tumult, a two-year-old girl apparently brought along with the crowd was also hit by a swinging door.”

“Everybody is taken a little be aback by his staff, really not — not trying to assume any culpability for knocking the little girl to the ground and really blaming it on us,” Lisenbery told ThinkProgress. “His staff should have known what was going on outside the door because they have security cameras outside the door, and they’ve told us before they can see us on the cameras.”

Rohrabacher posted his press release to his Facebook page. According to Lisenbery, any comments pushing back against his depiction of the events have been swiftly deleted, along with links to the video of the actual proceedings (embedded above).

“This is a very hamfisted attempt by him to spin the events in his favor,” said Lisenbery. “Calling people political thugs, calling people activists, when it’s a lot of adults, mostly retirees with a lot of time on their hands, who are engaged in political action for the first time in their lives — it’s offensive to the people he claims to represent.”

This isn’t the first time that Rohrabacher’s account has differed wildly from that of his constituents. In local media two weeks ago, his staff characterized the visitors as purposefully disruptive and from out-of-district — which the activists said was untrue on both counts.

While Rohrabacher’s response may seem hamfisted to those involved, his narrative is part of a long-running tactic of elevating small instances of violence in order to discredit larger movements. Right-wing commentators and lawmakers have long used isolated acts of violence to discredit the largely peaceful Black Lives Matter movement, for instance. And when protests in one city after Trump’s election victory turned violent, the massive outpouring of peaceful protests were then lumped in as of-a-kind.

In dismissing the activists, Rohrabacher is also echoing a common refrain among Republican congresspeople who are struggling to respond to newly politically active constituents in the aftermath of the presidential election.

In Tennessee, Rep. John Duncan (R) said he wouldn’t hold town halls for fear of “extremists, kooks, and radicals.” In Utah, Rep. Jason Chaffetz dismissed a particularly raucous town hall as “more of a paid attempt to bully and intimidate.” In Illinois, Rep. Peter Roskam snuck out the back door to avoid protesters, and a spokesman characterized them as “national groups” as opposed to local constituents.

And on the radio on Tuesday, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), even extended the logic to a justification for ignoring Democratic politicians.

“These are people who have brought in anarchists to destroy this town. Of whom 240-some where arrested, with the support of George Soros and the Democrat left. This is not a cooperative environment,” he told Boston Herald Radio.

There’s no evidence that George Soros is paying protesters. Anarchists did smash some windows in downtown D.C. during Trump’s inauguration, but they were not connected to political groups, nor to the hundreds of thousands of peaceful protesters who marched the next day at the Women’s March. Issa’s statistics are also misleading. The number Issa cites — which, in reality, is 229 — includes both the protesters and legal observers, journalists, and bystanders who were rounded up dragnet-style by the police. your social media marketing partner


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+48 # grandlakeguy 2017-02-16 16:28

It is time that all Americans WAKE UP and understand that the real enemy of democracy is the fake elections that have become the norm.

Joseph Stalin said:
"True power lies not with those who cast the votes but with those who count the votes."

The Republicans have learned this lesson well which is why they are in control of our "elected" government at the national level as well as a majority of states.

+16 # economagic 2017-02-17 08:45
Quoting grandlakeguy:
"It is time that all Americans WAKE UP and understand that the real enemy of democracy is the fake elections that have become the norm.
Sorry GLG; just this once I have to disagree with you. The election tampering, including voter suppression, is a symptom, not the illness, which is far more ominous.

The enemy of democracy here is a century-long effort by elected officials such as the five mentioned in the article, and by their financial backers, to do precisely what they accuse everyone who opposes them in any way of doing, namely, to destroy democracy and radically restructure the government.

I first saw their actions called what they are in Scientific American Magazine, of all places, around the time of the 1996 election when Newt Gingrich was riding high with his "Contract On America" (sic). Calling them "conservative" is false and dangerous, as their entire program conserves nothing but the wealth and power of corporations and the 1%, while seeking to destroy virtually every advance over the course of the 20th century toward making this country a great democracy.

Their accusations are a standard tool of propaganda for factions that actually DO seek to instate authoritarian rule, but they have become increasingly strident over the past half-century. With the ascension of Trump -- not their original choice but clearly in their camp -- the supporters of authoritarian rule smell blood and double down.
+13 # librarian1984 2017-02-17 08:46
glg, hope you're well.

If the Democrats cared to correct the system they would use Trump's voter FRAUD accusations to open up a genuine, wide ranging investigation that would uncover massive voter SUPPRESSION. I don't see that happening.
+16 # DongiC 2017-02-16 19:44
The question is can the republic survive with the Republican Party in control? Their attitude toward health, education, welfare, immigration, science, global warming is becoming more and more outdated. Their attitudes are antiquated, they threaten us all.
+15 # CL38 2017-02-16 21:27
The right is now using this kind of flim-flammery to claim that those who attempt to engage with the political representatives ---and disagree with them are an 'enemy' of the US.

Our right to engage politically and speak truth to power was challenged by Washington state Sen. Doug Ericksen who proposed a bill to allow authorities to charge protesters with committing "economic terrorism."

The proposed bill would make protesting a class C felony should it cause any sort of "economic disruption" or "jeopardize human life and property." Such a proposal would mean violators could face five years in prison, a $10,000 fine or both.

Any group who organizes a protest that is considered disruptive would also be charged with "economic terrorism." The law would not apply to strikes or picketing.

The bill is aimed at protests in the Pacific Northwest, often by environmental activists, that are aimed at shutting down commerce and transportation.

The truth is turned into it's opposite is what the right is using now to challenge active political involvement by ordinary people.
0 # Cassandra2012 2017-02-26 15:59
Welcome to the new version of "1984" where truth is lies and the lies are the new 'truth'!
+13 # CTPatriot 2017-02-17 05:13
I believe that Rohrabacher's misrepresentati on of the protesters as dangerous and threats to democracy marks a very deliberate strategy of stochastic terrorism by Republicans and the corporate establishment. They are throwing red meat to their rabid right wing base some of whom appear to be more amped up by the day for an excuse to physically assault liberals.

If you're not exposed to it, check out the stuff that Mike Adams posts on his Natural News mailing list. Here are a couple samples (note how protests are similarly overblown into riots and liberals are portrayed as unhinged and dangerous):

THEY WANT WAR: Leftists call for protesters to “start killing people” while Obama official demands “military coup” against Trump

NYT lays out narrative to justify civil war
+12 # Bruce Gruber 2017-02-17 07:57
This Koch Brothers/ALEC puppet has "peeped THEIR righteous 'hole card'" - the oligarch view that 'citizens' are pedestrians cluttering the super-highway of wealth entitlement and should 'accept' their defined 'place' as serfs in the forest outside the castles that 'prove' the plutocratic superiority of exploitation.

I am certain there is a 'template' law provided by ALEC that the Congress-minion can submit to the dictatorial Majority in the House, that defines "public intrusion" into the 'wonder world' of Congressional representation as worthy of military intervention and, if fearful for the 'life' of the entitled, may be defended with terminal velocity ...
+7 # Kootenay Coyote 2017-02-17 09:45
Typical cowardly bully Republican response.
+1 # treerapper 2017-02-19 03:53
Any elected official who refuses to speak with their constituency should have their taxpayer-paid salary revoked and their benefits - healthcare, pension, travel, gym - rescinded.

These twisted sisters are supposed to be Public Servants - they work fur us and we pay them for that. Refusing to do that - refusing to DO YOUR JOB - should result in being fired.
0 # Cassandra2012 2017-02-26 16:03
And they are NOT 'entitled' to get Cadillac health insurance while relegating the rest of us to begging in the streets for an aspirin!

If these 'entitled' senators and congressmen had to have EXACTLY the same healthcare options as the rest of us , you'd see those options improve exponentially!

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