Commentary

Leftist Civility: “Die in a fire!”

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The self-righteous, egocentric lectures about “restoring civility” coming from the left have increased in frequency recently.

The implication, of course, is always that members of the right-wing of American politics are knuckle dragging neanderthals who can’t function in polite society, and that the populist frustration that has boiled over both nationally and in Maine is crass, uncivil and worthy of reprehension, and that liberals politicians are, by comparison, tremendous, dignified statesmen and left-wing voters are concerned with politeness, tolerance and fair-mindedness.

I myself have problems with the state of politics and political discourse in this country, and have loudly proclaimed as much repeatedly.

That said, the notion that the inappropriate, angry, confrontational, irrational and borderline violent rhetoric and behavior we see in politics today is only happening on the right is preposterous. Anyone who has been involved in the conservative movement for any length of time knows this, because they’ve been spit on, screamed at, and called all manner of putrid, vile names in the book by left-wing activists and voters, simply for holding a different political opinion.

And this is a big problem among the political leaders and elected officials in the leftosphere as well. The main difference is that the press is devoted to exposing supposed conservative extremism, and is complicit in ignoring the same behavior on the left, so the public is left with an incomplete view of the state of our political discourse.

Here in Maine, a great example of what people on the right deal with every day occurred over the weekend, when a man by the name of Michael Perigard — email address overprescribed@gmail.com — decided to write an email to Rep. Heather Sirocki, in response to a Maine Wire article she wrote, registering her disagreement with the Ranked-Choice Voting referendum.

This, his entire email below, is what apparently passes as “civil” and “dignified” political speech on the left:

I have to commend you for trying to make a case against ranked voting. I’m constantly impressed with state level legislators that honestly seem like they don’t know how absurd they sound, but are obviously sad, pathetic party shills.

it’s disappointing that your best (only?) arguments against are

omg it’s different than what we had before (I’m very scared)
it will take longer / cost more! (is this a political opinion piece or an infomercial? fabulous!)
people whose first preference didn’t win *will continue to have their opinions heard* (could you demonstrate a worse understanding of the premise behind the whole thing without making this a blatant propaganda piece!?)

mostly, it’s just disappointing you put your name on this. thanks for the reminder that shitty people will stoop to doing things they know are shitty to further themselves.

way to take your elected office seriously. I might not be sad if you died in a fire, seriously, that’s a horrible way to die, but I don’t know that I’d be sad if you randomly suffered it.

get it? that thing you wrote was bad, and you should feel bad.

“I might not be sad if you died in a fire, seriously, that’s a horrible way to die, but I don’t know that I’d be sad if you randomly suffered it.”

Yes, he seriously wrote that.

You may write this incident off as simply a crank left-wing extremist going over the line, and an exception to the otherwise positive and dignified tone on the left. But you’d be wrong.

Unfortunately, I can tell you first hand that this is the kind of thing any prominent right leaning individual is treated to on an almost daily basis. Not for being mean or unreasonable ourselves, but simply — as was the case for Rep. Sirocki writing a column opposing Ranked Choice Voting — for holding views that the left disagrees with.

I get dozens every week, any time I write an opinion column for the Bangor Daily News. Any time my name appears in the newspaper, for things as innocuous as talking about my hopes for legislation in the coming year. Any time I open the mail that comes into The Maine Heritage Policy Center.

For example, some time ago I received a card in the mail at work. As I opened the card, it looked like a “get well” card. Not being sick, I was confused, until I opened it and read:

Card

Someone with what appears to be a third grader’s handwriting actually sent me a card, wishing me ill, and hoping that I got cancer. My father, by the way, died of cancer pretty recently, so that was a lovely sentiment to receive.

In the public’s mind, largely thanks to a media that carries the water for the left, poisonous, hateful rhetoric like this is primarily a right-wing problem, and when it does occur on the left, it is some kind of oddity. An aberration. They frame stories differently when left wing politicians say or do hateful things. They ignore the activities of a bloodthirsty, and equally angry liberal grassroots. And they are completely uninterested in mentioning the treatment virtually all conservative figures are treated to.

Is it any wonder there is a palpable sense of resentment and frustration that has taken hold on the right? Sick of the double standard, sick of the bias, sick of being talked down to while the other side gets a pat on the head, it is no surprise how our voters feel.

And at the end of the day, after getting treated like this on a daily basis and seeing no one care, can anyone really blame people on the right for being more than a little fed up?

About Matthew Gagnon

Matthew Gagnon, of Yarmouth, is the Chief Executive Officer of the Maine Heritage Policy Center. Prior to his tenure at MHPC, Matt spent eight years working in national politics in Washington, D.C., most recently as a senior strategist for the Republican Governors Association. A Hampden native, Matt is a nationally recognized political strategist and communicator.

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