Recently, we’ve seen several examples that when the far left doesn’t get what it wants through the democratic process, it resorts to intimidation and mob tactics. This tendency was on full display during the debate over the nomination of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. Republican Senators and their families were targeted by the mob at their homes, at airports, and in their cars. They received threatening phone calls and letters. Death threats spiked. These were not efforts to engage in civil discourse or to persuade peacefully – these were simply efforts to intimidate.
Unfortunately, these antics and incivility did not stop after Justice Kavanaugh was rightly confirmed.
On Friday evening, my wife and I were once again the target of the aggressive intimidation while eating at a restaurant in Louisville. You may have read about it in the Courier Journal, but the article and its video didn’t lay out all the facts. So let me set the story straight.
As Elaine and I sat at a booth and enjoyed our dinner, a man came in off the street and rushed at us. Acting alone, he began shouting, slamming his fists on our table, and causing a disruption as others tried to eat. At one point, he even grabbed my wife’s to-go box off of our table and threw it outside onto the ground.
Almost immediately, the restaurant’s other customers began rejecting his harassment. They told him to quiet down or leave. A few men even approached the aggressor and escorted him to the exit. We are grateful to our fellow diners and the restaurant staff who helped end the disruption.
I’m not sure exactly what in my career suggests I would be easily swayed by such a spectacle. The reality is simple: I will not be intimidated. But this issue is not really about me, or about any individual elected official. It’s about something larger: The mob mentality that is being systematically fed and encouraged by the far left all across our nation.
The threats and intimidation are even being cheered on by prominent, leading Democrats. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said there should be no civility until her party was back in power. Eric Holder, President Obama’s Attorney General, recently told a group that “when they go low, we kick ‘em. That’s what this new Democratic Party is about.”
So the extreme left’s playbook is quite clear. But even while the far left is forming its mobs, the Senate is continuing our productive work for the American people. As angry protesters climbed over barricades, disregarded and disrespected the police, and attempted to shout down anyone who disagreed, I was proud to prioritize the passage of landmark opioids legislation. Similarly, the Senate recently passed important aviation infrastructure legislation. The president just signed our water infrastructure bill into law. And we will continue to confirm more of the president’s highly qualified judicial nominees this year. Our work in the Senate is too important to the country to back down in the face of these mob antics.
When the Senate is not in session, I frequently travel across this Commonwealth listening to the men and women who I represent in Washington. For instance, this week I traveled to Eastern Kentucky to visit with workers at a manufacturing facility, small business owners and community leaders, and opioid treatment professionals at the University of Pikeville. My office receives thousands of calls, letters and emails every week from Kentuckians. While we may not always agree, I do appreciate every person who engages in the democratic process in a civil way.
In fact, while Elaine and I waited for our table, a social worker approached us. She wanted to talk about the devastating effects of opioid addiction she witnessed firsthand. We discussed her work and how important this issue is to Kentucky and the country. That’s how our government is supposed to work – with reasoned judgment and respect, not with intimidation and extreme mob behavior.
It’s time for each of us to decide what kind of country we want. One side can continue to hurl mud, hatred, and toxic behavior until we reach a breaking point. Or, those with strong beliefs on both sides of an issue can speak up in a civil way.
I enjoyed my meal in Louisville on Friday night, and I will continue to eat with my friends and family at my favorite Kentucky restaurants. I appreciate those who spoke up against the shameful behavior. We hope other customers weren’t too inconvenienced by the extremist left-wing tantrums.
I was not the first senator confronted, and I unfortunately likely won’t be the last. But the Senate will not be intimidated by the antics of far-left protesters, and we will continue our important work.