We've already seen in this election cycle the level of threatening behavior escalating to new heights, thanks in large part to the innate viciousness of Tea Party rhetoric. In particular, threats from mentally unstable people, as well as far-right Patriot movement followers, freshly energized by the Tea Parties, are rising to the fore.
Now we're witnessing thuggery from the political leaders of the Tea Party themselves, or at least from the minions they unleash on any unpleasant dissenters in their vicinity. Real American democracy, obviously, is just too hard to take for these patriots.
Watch the video above, taken by another reporter at the scene when Joe Miller's hired thugs muscled and then handcuffed a reporter asking questions -- and then likewise muscled other reporters at the scene.
Folks, that's what fascism looks like.
"I would say Tony was aggressive, and I would say he was rude because he interrupted me, but he didn't do anything wrong and he wasn't posing a threat to Miller," Symbol said.
She said Miller tried to get away from the reporter and in doing so put his hand on her arm and pushed her aside. Her 8-year-old son, Vincent Mahoney, was standing right behind her, and Miller bowled him over in his attempt to get away. "I don't know if [Miller] didn't see him or didn't care, but he didn't say 'excuse me' or 'I'm sorry'. He didn't even turn his head," Symbol said. "He simply did not care at all."
Symbol said after Miller fled, she turned and saw Hopfinger trying to get around the security guards who were blocking his way. "They kept pushing him back. He kept saying, 'I have a right to be here, I have a right to be asking these questions.' Tony would try to walk forward and they would push him back."
Symbol said she did not see Hopfinger push anyone in the time she was watching the confrontation.
Then again, this is what happens when you hire far-right extremists of the Patriot variety to act as your "security" force. It's becoming abundantly clear that Miller is very much part of that world, and indeed is poised to become the Patriot movement's first elected senator.
As the Financial Times observed, this kind of thuggery toward members of the media was probably inevitable, given the Tea Partiers' proclivity for attacking them rhetorically (particularly Sarah "Lamestream" Palin). However, it's not just media folks, but anyone perceived to be from "the other side" by Tea Partiers. And it's not just in Alaska.
Down in Florda the other day, we had this from another Tea Party candidate -- Allen West:
From NBC 6 in Miami:
Tonight, NBC 6 Miami reported on a new Allen West (FL-22) controversy: West’s biker supporters caught on tape harassing a Florida Democratic Party campaign staffer. Citing safety concerns, Florida Democratic Party officials have stopped covering the Allen West campaign.
This comes just days after NBC News’ Lisa Myers reported that Allen West (FL-22) has ties to an infamous motorcycle gang and organized crime syndicate, the Outlaws. The Justice Department has said that the Outlaws produce and distribute methamphetamine, and engage in other criminal activities including arson, homicide, and prostitution.
Male voice: You know you're not wanted here.
Tracker: All right. You guys made that clear.
Male: It's private.
Tracker: You really want to do this?
Male: We're doing it.
Tracker: You can do it all day.
Reporter: Is this too intimidating on the campaign trail?
Tracker: Hey, hey, hey, hey. This is a free place.
Male voice: And we’re free to stand here.
Tracker: As long as you don't touch me. I was trying to walk that way.
Male voice: Get the [bleep] out
Reporter: A campaign worker for Democrat Ron Klein trying to videotape his Republican opponent, Allen West, at a veterans rally at a public park in Del Ray Beach. The video shows West supporters verbally harassing the 23-year-old videographer. Threats can be heard on the video tape. The West supporters force him to get back into his car.
Listen to how University of Miami professor of politics, Donald Jones describes the incident, “Thuggishness. These are troubles wrinkles coming at a time when West doesn't need them. He needs to hold together this coalition of economic and social conservatives that the Republican party represents.”
Reporter: I had an appointment to interview Allen West earlier today, but he canceled. I e-mailed this video to his campaign manager who issued this statement. "I saw a kid who was asked to leave. These are Vietnam veterans, they are not thugs. They were attending a private Allen West function to honor American veterans."
Sure. They're just Vietnam Veterans who happen to wear biker leathers and act like thugs. They're not really thugs.
Expect a lot more of this from the Tea Partiers. And because the media are just watching and letting it happen, expect them to continue to get away with it. It's the new normal. And that's not good.
UPDATE: Digby points out that Miller's thugs are also active-duty soldiers. She adds:
It would be interesting to ask Miller about the Oathkeepers and watch him turn himself into a living pretzel trying to explain how all this works.
Yeah, except that Miller isn't answering questions from the press anymore, dontcha know? And if you try, you get a faceful of locker.