Just months after Jared Loughner opened fire on Gabrielle Giffords' community event, one prominent Wisconsin state legislator told a Republican "You're f****ng dead," and death threats have been pouring in from protesters against Republicans. We must remember, as President Obama said in the aftermath of the Giffords tragedy, that "It’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds." Sadly, this lesson has been lost on too many of those who are against Wisconsins' budget reform bill.
Wisconsin Democrat Rep. Gordon Hintz told Republican Michelle Litjens "You're ... dead" on February 28, and since then, his tone has colored the attitudes of the protesters. Death threats have been pouring in, including one emailed to all Republican Senators that said, "Please put your things in order because you will be killed and your familes will also be killed due to your actions in the last 8 weeks."
Protesters have waved signed with Governor Scott Walker in crosshairs, signs calling him Hitler and a sign asking for him dead. They have been spurred on by Michael Moore telling liberals to go to "war" and Jesse Jackson saying that they will have to "escalate the protests" and fight in the streets, already having rioted inside the capitol building.
What is Obama's stance on this kind of violent rhetoric and these death threats? Obama and Wisconsin Democrats have remained silent about the violence. In fact, the Obama Administration has been actively encouraging more aggression through its own over-the-top rhetoric. Obama Press Secretary Jay Carney called Wisconsin's reforms "an assault on public sector employees."
The Obama Administration has rejected any chances of unity by coming out against any kind of reform and pursuing partisan goals rather than addressing these issues together. While Republicans have put forth ideas in Wisconsin and Ohio, Democrats in Wisconsin have simply run away from their constituents and left the state in order to obstruct the government's work. This callous anti-government and anti-democratic attitude is driving a stake through any chances of working together, as is Obama's continuing reluctance to take up his own principles that he himself laid out in his much praised speech on violent rhetoric.
Now that the Republicans have succeeded in doing the people's work and passing the first half of their bill and the Democrats have returned to their jobs, it will be of dire importance that the Democrats come together to get the rest of the bill sorted out smoothly. A strong voice from Obama and from Wisconsin Democrats would be a good start in toning down the hate and returning civility to politics.