Politics is a contact sport. Candidates understand there is no trophy for simply showing up. With these thoughts in mind, is it any wonder chants like “Lock her up” and “AOC sucks” are heard at GOP political rallies coast to coast? In my opinion, it’s all part of the coarse, win-at-any-cost mentality that has engulfed our country since 2016.
Having first moved to Laguna in 1970, I have attended my fair share of City Council meetings. My memory is far from perfect, but I never remember residents being so worked up about an issue–from the height limitation referendum to various tax increases to the Village Entrance and more–that they chanted anything like what we are hearing now on a daily basis.
With apologies to the council members I won’t be mentioning, imagine how shocked we would be if people started yelling “Lock Toni up” or “Peter sucks” every other Tuesday. Frankly it’s unthinkable, which begs the question: If people on both sides of the political aisle wouldn’t put up with it here at home, then why aren’t good, decent Republicans just as horrified about what they are witnessing on a national level?
I grew up in a political family. My father was a delegate to the 1952, ’56 and ’60 Democratic National Conventions. Two weeks before entering the seventh grade, my dad introduced me to then-Sen. John F. Kennedy. I never will forget shaking the hand of the future president at the San Francisco Airport.
After graduating from Stanford in 1959, my older brother worked for Sen. Clair Engle on Capitol Hill and decades later was picked to be a federal elector in 2000 and 2008. For my part, I served as a staff assistant to Rep. Don Edwards in 1972, and as a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee in 1974.
In stark contrast to what I have seen these last two years, I believe in civil discourse and the need to protect people’s right to vote. Call me a dinosaur, but aren’t these the fundamental building blocks of American democracy?
Threatening one’s political opponents with jail or worse is what dictators and unruly mobs do in other parts of the world. We never would allow that here in Laguna, so why is it acceptable, no encouraged, at GOP rallies in Michigan or Pennsylvania for example?
Mindful that celebrities like Kathy Griffin and Madonna have made outlandish statements of their own, let me remind you neither has resulted in ugly chants by tens of thousands in an arena. That said, I invite my Republican friends in town to respond to my question.
Denny Freidenrich was appointed to the city’s golf committee in 1974, represented Laguna and three other beach cities during the No on Offshore Oil Drilling fight in 1985, created the personalized lobby tiles found at the entrance to the Laguna Art Museum in 2000, and brainstormed the first public event to assist the victims of the devastating Bluebird landslide of 2005.