Joining a chorus of political and media elites tut-tutting the left for its supposed lack of decorum, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer took to the Senate floor on Monday for an entirely predictable lecture about the importance of “civility” and “respect” in our hallowed discourse.
Schumer’s remarks came after White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave a Virginia restaurant on Friday by its owner, who opposed the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant families at the southern U.S. border. Rep. Maxine Waters, a California Democrat, called on supporters Saturday to similarly berate Trump administration officials elsewhere, adding fuel to a debate over how nice Democrats should be as they push back against a policy that has been condemned by the United Nations. Schumer did not mention Waters by name when he spoke in the Senate chambers on Monday, but it was clear he was referring to her comments—especially since he’d very specifically previewed his remarks with reporters.
“I strongly disagree with those who advocate harassing folks if they don’t agree with you,” Schumer said. “If you disagree with someone or something, stand up. Make your voice heard. Explain why you think they’re wrong, and why you’re right. Make the argument. Protest peacefully. If you disagree with a politician, organize your fellow citizens to action and vote them out of office. But no one should call for the harassment of political opponents. That’s not right. That’s not American.”
Schumer likened the public shaming of government officials who carry out inhumane policies to the behavior of Trump himself—not American. Here he is:
But the president’s tactics and behavior should never be emulated. It should be repudiated by organized, well-informed, and passionate advocacy. As Michelle Obama, a person who represents the same kind of fineness that we’ve always had in America—complete contrast to the coarseness of this president—said, “When they go low, we go high.”
To opponents of the president’s policies, the best way to limit what he can do, to show that America is not as coarse, mean, as hypocritical, as his behavior suggests, the best solution is to win elections. That is a far more productive way to channel the legitimate frustrations with this president’s policies than harassing members of his administration.
The implication here is that being polite about a policy that an estimated two-thirds of Americans oppose will serve Democrats well politically. OK then! And yet, Schumer still seemed confused and outraged over “the double standard we seem to let this president get away with.” The New York senator did not flesh out who the “we” is in that statement. Nor did he grapple with whether prioritizing civility over morality actually makes him an enabler.