So much for civility in politics this week.
President Donald Trump gleefully fueled the fire that has been in flames the last few weeks as a result of his administration's "zero-tolerance" family separation policy at the U.S.-Mexico border, tweeting a threat to a Democratic elected official on Monday.
Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., called for anti-Trump resistors to harass Trump administration officials in public over the weekend. By Monday afternoon, the tweeter-in-chief took to his favorite platform to craft an impertinent response, one in which he took a jab at Waters’ intelligence and called her “Max.”
“Congresswoman Maxine Waters, an extraordinarily low IQ person, has become, together with Nancy Pelosi, the Face of the Democrat Party,” he wrote on Twitter. “She has just called for harm to supporters, of which there are many, of the Make America Great Again movement. Be careful what you wish for Max!”
It is important to note Waters was not calling for violence or assault. At a rally in Los Angeles over the weekend, Waters called on citizens to harass individuals in the administration in public as a result of reports about child-parent separations at the U.S.-Mexico border. Her comments at the rally followed the news that White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave a restaurant called Red Hen in Lexington, Virginia, on Friday evening.
"Let's make sure we show up wherever we have to show up. And if you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. And you tell them they're not welcome anymore, anywhere. We've got to get the children connected to their parents," Waters said.
"We don't know what damage has been done to these children. All that we know is they're in cages. They're in prisons. They're in jails. I don't care what they call it, that's where they are and Mr. President, we will see you every day, every hour of the day, everywhere that we are to let you know you cannot get away with this," she added.
At a press conference on Monday, Sanders added to her criticism.
“Healthy debate on ideas and political philosophy is important, but the calls for harassment and push for any Trump supporter to avoid the public is unacceptable,” Sanders said on Monday.
Sanders was not the only one to speak out against Waters. Since Waters’ remarks, moderate Democrats and Republicans have rebuked her call.
“In the crucial months ahead, we must strive to make America beautiful again,” House House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., wrote on Twitter on Monday morning. “Trump’s daily lack of civility has provoked responses that are predictable but unacceptable. As we go forward, we must conduct elections in a way that achieves unity from sea to shining sea.”
New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, a Congressional Black Caucus colleague of Waters, distanced himself from her comments during an MSNBC interview on Monday. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said on Twitter that nobody is deserving of harassment. Meghan McCain called her comments “extremely dangerous.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer D-N.Y. backed away, too.
"No one should call for the harassment of political opponents, that's not right, that's not American,” he said.
However, as the Washington Post explained, this situation is raising up a big debate in the Democratic party—and it extends beyond what Waters’ comments. It is indeed a call to reestablish the party’s moral ground.
“But clearly this is a debate that the Democratic Party needs to have right now. It's a debate that has been repeatedly sparked by key cultural moments forcing people to decide whether the new territory that has been breached is okay to enter. It's Meryl Streep giving a political speech at the Golden Globes. It's Michelle Wolf's comments about Sanders's eye makeup at the White House correspondents' dinner. It's Samantha Bee using extremely vulgar language to denounce Ivanka Trump. It's Robert De Niro using similarly salty language against Trump at the Tony Awards two weeks ago.”