A man was reportedly kicked off a flight today after yelling at fellow passenger Ivanka Trump that her father was “ruining the country.”
My friend Brett Di Resta tweeted about it today, writing: “Democrats and Progressives, don’t do this please. In other words, don’t be an a-hole.”
Is Brett right? Let’s discuss.
First off, while Ivanka Trump is Donald Trump’s daughter, and de facto First Lady (at least for the time being), Ivanka is also soon to be one of Donald Trump’s most trusted White House advisers. She’s far more than a “first child,” and shouldn’t be treated any differently than we would any other top Trump official.
So the question becomes not “whether it’s fair to yell at Ivanka,” but rather, “whether it’s a good idea to yell at Trump officials at all.” And I’m not entirely convinced Brett is right.
Putting aside the fact that this happened on a plane — planes are notoriously bad places to cause a scene — is yelling at government officials off limits? It isn’t for Republicans. If you’ll remember during the Bush v. Gore recount in 2000, Republican operatives from DC (I knew one of them) stormed the room in Florida where local officials were examining ballots. Those 20-some operatives pretended to be an angry mob of angry voters, irate that the recount was still going on — when in fact, they were working on behalf of the Republican party. And they accomplished their goal: The media fell for it, and reported that the recount was simply out of control!
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Fast forward to the debate over health care reform and “Obamacare.” In that summer of 2009, reminiscent of the winter of Bush v. Gore, the Republicans organized mobs of supporters to storm congressional townhall meetings (the meetings members of Congress hold with constituents back home), and effectively scare the bejeesus out of any legislators thinking of supporting President Obama’s reforms.
Again, it was fake grassroots intended to create a perception that the country was rising up, and it worked.
And just a few days ago, I read about Republican congressmen who are afraid of standing up to Donald Trump, lest Breitbart, Hannity, the racist Alt Right and the rest of the GOP mob descend on them. It happened to one congressman, and all the others got the message. Yet again, Republican bullying tactics did their job.
Yelling at elected officials works.
I remember when I worked for Senator Ted Stevens back in the early 1990s. The Senator had just gotten back from a trip to Alaska, came to see me, and barked at me because some constituent had yelled at him in the airport. It didn’t matter whether the constituent was right — the voter back home had yelled about some issue I worked on, and that was enough to convince the Senator that I had messed up, and that I’d better fix it fast.
The other thing that regularly set Stevens off? Angry letters to the editor in the papers back home.
Republicans understand that mean girls rule.
I’m not necessarily suggesting that folks yell at Ivanka during take-off. But people like Ivanka, who seem to have their heart in the right place (if we can believe what we read about her), and who have zero experience in politics, need to hear from real people about just how concerned we are about her father. (As do the rest of the Trump’s staff, who seem far less good-hearted than his daughter.)
Then again, I once gave a quick snort while walking by Ed Meese.