by Rob Natelson

In recent months, we have heard voices on the Left cry “foul” at the town-hall tactics of  Americans upset at current political leadership. Leftists profess to be shocked — horrified! — to see Americans defending themselves passionately, unapologetically, and confrontationally.

The confrontational tactics the Left now finds so troubling include such activities as  holding up really big signs and shouting.

Now, I’ve seen a lot of political hypocrisy in my lifetime, but the Left griping about confrontational tactics has got to be some kind of record.

Of course, leftists have no problem with strong-arming when they do the strong-arming. They’ve been using such tactics for decades to beat up on the rest of us.  As if anyone needed reminders –

  • Many people remember when “peace” activists were seizing college buildings, disrupting higher education, burning flags, throwing excrement and bricks at law enforcement officers, and assaulting and intimidating administrators, faculty, and other students.
  • For decades, activists allegedly for causes like “peace,” “civil rights,” “welfare rights,” and “fair trade” have freely trampled law, property, and the rights of others.
  • When leftists have taken power, they have used it freely to push around the opposition. One of many examples:  During the Clinton administration, almost every conservative and libertarian think tank in the country found itself targeted by an IRS audit.
  • Thuggish tactics by left-wing union activists are so common that the phrase “union goons” has entered the American vocabulary.
  • “Community organizing” — ala Obama and Hillary Clinton — is famously governed by Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals,” a guidebook to underhand political knife-fighting.

And while more moderate leftists refuse to engage in such tactics, they seldom refuse to take political advantage of the chaos and fear they cause.

Dwarfing these instances is the long list of technically legal strong-arm maneuvers the Left has used to assault the rest of us. Government agencies campaign for their causes and give our tax dollars to groups like ACORN. Government collects fees for public sector unions, which use them (or fungible replacement dollars) to crusade for leftist causes.

Under the leadership of the “tenured radicals” that dominant many universities and other tax-exempt organizations, many of those institutions have become political entities, emitting constant propaganda attacking traditional values and promoting more government regulation and spending.

Here’s a mental exercise to put it in perspective: Think of all the political vandalism you have seen over the years: The traffic signs defaced, the slogans painted on bridges and viaducts, the literary garbage slapped on private property, etc. etc. Just how often have you seen that done to convey a right-wing message?

So the correct question is not, “Should Americans who pay the bills and make things work have become so passionate and confrontational when threatened by government?”

The correct questions are:

(1) What took them so long?” and

(2) Will they become passionate and confrontational enough to save the country?”

Rob Natelson, a former conservative activist and business owner, is a constitutional law professor at the University of Montana who writes mostly about the American Founding.  His views are his own, and not necessarily those of any other person or institution.