President Donald Trump’s chaotic first weeks have generated wide disapproval, and not all the protests have been placid. But U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock needs to stop insisting that the seniors, families and middle-aged picketers at his town hall this past weekend were an “anarchist element.”
As The Sacramento Bee’s Angela Hart reported Saturday, the unhappy crowd that greeted the Sierra Nevada’s man in Congress was anti-Trump and noisy. But McClintock’s claims to outside media afterward that “anarchists” had gathered to “disrupt” his meeting was true only if by “anarchists” you mean “neighbors and grandparents.”
Interviews revealed a lot of gray-haired retirees worried about Medicare and workers fearful of the Republican plan to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. Some said they had driven hours through the Sierra to hear the congressman speak in downtown Roseville; others said they had never demonstrated before, but wanted to register their dismay at Trump’s ban on travel from seven Muslim-majority countries and his efforts to roll back environmental rules.
As someone whose district includes Yosemite National Park, and who gleefully embraced the tea party after the election of President Barack Obama, one might think McClintock would be alert to environmental issues and savvy enough to recognize a gathering grassroots firestorm.
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But no. McClintock defended Trump’s executive order restricting refugee admissions — a ban that 15 states including his own sued to overturn Monday. Then he spewed some double-speak on health insurance and claimed man-made global warming is up for “very vigorous debate” among scientists. ( It isn’t.)
After a dozen or so questions, McClintock scurried away, cowering theatrically behind a needless police escort. Or maybe it wasn’t theater. Maybe all those people shouting “Shame!” and “Vote him out!” really did hurt his sensitive ears and scare him.
Either way, there was not only no anarchy, there wasn’t even disorder. Everyone was polite and the demonstrators applauded the police at the end of the protest. Occupy Roseville this was not.
The notable exception has been the reaction to Breitbart provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, whose planned appearances at UC Berkeley, UC Davis and other campuses have incited vandalism. The culprits there do claim to be anarchists, though their all-black disguises make it hard to know who they actually are.
They are unwelcome, and we denounce them. But anarchy should be the least of the Republican Congress’ worries. If Trump’s overreaches continue, and McClintock and his GOP colleagues don’t check and balance him as they’re supposed to, regular democracy, in all its grassroots, garden-variety glory, is going to keep them busy enough.
Editor’s note: Editorials from other newspapers are offered to stimulate debate and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Tribune.