Democrats protested hoping to revoke people’s rights earlier this summer.
Typically, protesters rally to the cause of extending rights to others, but in the Democrats’ case, they hoped to revoke constitutional rights. In the past, civil rights protesters rallied for the right to eat at a lunch counter or to vote.
The Democrats curled up on the floor of the U.S. House in late June to remove Second Amendment rights from some, while simultaneously violating the constitutional rights of others.
For this, the media cheered. They should have been revolted.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
In the aftermath of an Orlando nightclub shooting, Democratic House members stormed the floor demanding that the House immediately debate a gun control bill. The Democratic sit-in created a situation in which business couldn’t be conducted.
So, House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican, decided to recess the House. Under normal circumstances, when the House is in recess, the C-SPAN cameras are shut off. The clerks leave, and the floor is emptied.
“Except the protesters decided to stay,” said Rep. Kevin Yoder, a Kansas Republican.
As they sat — some bringing in pillows and blankets and saying they’d stay until debate occurred — the Democrats broke several House rules. Democrats pulled out their cellphones to broadcast, breaking rules against videotaping and broadcasting from the floor. These are rules they voted for and agreed to. C-SPAN began broadcasting the cellphone transmissions, and the gallery began to fill with Democrat supporters shouting and cheering.
By about 7 p.m., Republicans caucused and decided there was important business on behalf of both parties to be conducted.
“There were bills scheduled to be on the floor, and they were important to somebody,” Yoder said. “They may not have been important to the protesters.”
When Speaker Ryan used the gavel, protesters in the gallery started shouting and screaming. That’s not how civilized and free people conduct debate.
Democrats sat at Republicans’ desks, denying access to Republican staff, and physically held microphones refusing to let Republican House members use them.
“That, to me, is where the line got crossed,” Yoder said.
Bonnie Waston-Coleman, a Democrat Congresswoman from New Jersey, told Yoder he had blood on his hands, and therefore wasn’t allowed to speak.
“I asked her how she could deny the constituents of the Third District the ability to speak on the floor, and that was the response I got,” Yoder said. “So the people in her district can speak, but the people in my district can’t.”
The irony is rich.
Democrats rallied to take away Second Amendment rights. In doing so, they violated the Fifth Amendment rights of Yoder and other Republicans by depriving them of their property without due process. Meanwhile, Democrats stomped on First Amendment rights by not allowing Republicans, on their constituents’ behalf, to speak.
“At what point do you just light the constitution on fire?” Yoder asks.
Even the so-called stewards of civility, representatives like Emanuel Cleaver, a Missouri congressman and founder of the House Civility Caucus, applauded the shameful actions of his Democrat peers.
“The last 24 hours I’ve been more proud to have been a Democrat than I have in all of previous public life,” Cleaver told a reporter from McClatchy, owner of The Kansas City Star.
Cleaver should be embarrassed.
The Democrats damaged decades of precedent to protest a bill that hadn’t passed a committee and one that was never going to have the votes to pass. In the meantime, they created a hostile work environment and violated the rights of every constituent of a Republican representative in the process.
Imagine the media reaction had the tables been turned. When former Speaker Nancy Pelosi rammed Obamacare through the U.S. House with nary a Republican vote, Republican representatives didn’t resort to theatrics, screaming, name calling and grinding the people’s business to a stop.
When a congressman wants to get a bill passed, he wades through the process. Sometimes it takes years. Yoder’s Email Privacy Act, for example, languished for three years before making it to the floor for debate.
Stomping your feet and demanding your way is how 2-year-olds seek attention. Good parents don’t allow toddlers to get away with that behavior, and voters shouldn’t let Democrats get away with it either.
“I think it set a precedent that if you don’t have the majority of votes on the floor, grind it to a halt,” Yoder said. “How can people’s voices be heard on the House floor? We have a majority-run system where you vote on bills and you decide on policy going forward. If you don’t like that, you try to build a new majority.”
Danedri Herbert writes monthly. reach her at email@example.com. On Twitter: @danedri.