Politicians warned Michael Treiman that his foray into politics was going to be messy.
“Some people are going to say some absolute ludicrous things.”
He expected that. Yet, a mere four hours after an appearance on WNBF’s radio program Binghamton Now, on which Treiman announced his intention to challenge Binghamton, New York, incumbent, Republican Mayor Richard David, was when he started receiving threatening messages.
Later that day, Treiman returned home after picking up his children from their sitter. A truck pulled up, and out from the window came a full soda bottle that struck Treiman in the back as he turned to shield his child.
Treiman said the man who threw the soda yelled, “Liberal scumbag!”
A mere week later, Treiman pulled out of the mayoral race after receiving online threats and threats to his property.
It’s just not worth the risk to his family anymore. After 32 years in his beloved hometown, Treiman and his wife are taking their 3 children and trying their luck elsewhere.
He told local media:
“The only reasonable thing to do was to withdraw. There was something more visceral about this incident. It had nothing to do with anything substantive. It had to do with my existence with a political party.”
And He’s Not Alone
Earlier this month, Kim Weaver, an Iowa Democratic congressional candidate rescinded her challenge to Republican Rep. Steve King, citing:
“Alarming acts of intimidation, including death threats.”
In a Facebook post, she stated:
“While some may say enduring threats are just a part of running for office, my personal safety has increasingly become a concern.”
She also subsequently dropped out of her race, citing not only the threats, but loss of health coverage and family issues.
There was also what happened last month during the special election in Montana, at which congressional candidate Greg Gianforte body-slammed Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs after Jacobs asked Gianforte a question about the AHCA, the Republicans’ “replacement” for the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare.”
The following day, a Montana voter told a CNN crew:
”You’re lucky someone doesn’t pop one of you.”
Then there is Alex Jones, one of President Trump’s favorite media personalities. Earlier this year, Jones threatened to “beat” Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), and urged Schiff to “fill your hand,” a euphemism for arming himself.
You mean death threats like the two Democratic candidates got? That caused them to withdraw from the race.
— 10S DIVA (@SOOTHE_) June 15, 2017
Of course there is what happened this week in Alexandria, Va. during the GOP congressional baseball practice where Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) was critically injured after a man opened fire on lawmakers.
If these violent incidents occurred in any other country, we would shake our heads and thank our lucky stars we live in a place where politics are “civilized.”
I’m not so naive to assume politics is like Kindergarten where everyone is expected to play nicely and share their snack. That would be great, but of course that isn’t the way it is. Occasionally throughout our history things have, unfortunately, devolved into violence. We all know what happened to presidents Abraham Lincoln, William McKinley, James Garfield, and John Kennedy.
Is This The New Norm?
Should it be just part of the game that if one is intrepid enough to throw his or her hat in the political arena, he or she must be willing to die or put his or her family’s safety in peril?
The growing violence surrounding political candidates and the media transcends differences of opinion or party. It’s a sign we have lost a core set of values that have traditionally set us apart from third-world banana republics.
We don’t threaten to lock up our opponents, yet Donald Trump did just that when running for president. We don’t threaten to “open up the libel laws” so we can jail journalists for reporting unfavorable news, or float the possibility of amending or abolishing the First Amendment, yet Trump has proposed those too.
Now we’ve taken to intimidating candidates for pursuing visions of a better America.
A “better America.”
It’s possible. I will never give up hope.
Featured Image From Twitter.