Civility crisis in American politics likely to get worse, experts say

Fri, 2018-07-06

WASHINGTON (Circa) — When the Red Hen opened its doors Thursday, it was greeted by a mix of picketers and prospective customers, the remnants of anger and energy lingering after the rapidly-shifting spotlight of political controversy moved on.

The Lexington, Virginia restaurant had closed for nearly two weeks amid threats, harassment, and protests after its owner interrupted White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders’ dinner and asked her to leave on June 22. One protester was arrested last week for allegedly throwing chicken feces at the restaurant.

The owner has defended the decision, saying her staff was uncomfortable serving a representative of the Trump administration. Alongside other cases of Trump officials having meals interrupted by activists, though, it spurred a public debate over the depths of incivility on the left.

Two thousand miles away, President Donald Trump took the stage Thursday at a campaign rally in Great Falls, Montana, regaling the cheering crowd with extemporaneous attacks on his political enemies. At one point, he promised if he ever debates Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., whom he derisively referred to as “Pocahontas,” he will throw a DNA test it at her and demand she prove her contested Native American heritage.

"We will take that little kit and say, but we have to do it gently. Because we're in the '#MeToo' generation so I have to be very gentle. And we will very gently take that kit and we will slowly toss it, hoping it doesn't hit her and injure her arm even though it only weighs probably two ounces,” he said.

Trump also unleashed insults against Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., who was recently scolded by her own party leadership for encouraging people to “push back” against administration officials in public. He has repeatedly labeled her crazy and “low IQ” while she has reportedly faced death threats over her comments.