Saturday, June 9, 2018

Left-Wing Thugs and the Dark Art of Political Intimidation

By Kimberly Strassel, Guest Columnist

This is the United States of America. You are totally free to express your political views. No one is going to tell you what you can say or how you can say it, right? But what if you thought you’d be audited by the IRS or have your business boycotted or even lose your job? Would you speak freely then?

This is not a hypothetical question. It’s happening to Americans right now. It’s what may be called “The Intimidation Game.” And players in Washington, D.C. are very good at it.

The object of this “game” is to make political opponents pay a high price for expressing their opinions. It was a standard technique in the Jim Crow South in the 1950’s. It was used by racist southern Democrats to silence members of black civil rights groups like the NAACP. And these tactics have been revived and improved upon by today’s Democratic Party and its allies on the Progressive Left. They want to silence conservatives; just like racists once wanted to silence blacks and their liberal supporters. 

And it’s accomplished in three ways. First, harass; Second, investigate and prosecute; and third, blackmail.

Tactic number one: Harass.

Sic federal and state agencies and bureaucrats on political enemies. Remember the IRS targeting scandal that began in 2010? That’s when the Service systematically denied or delayed bestowing non-profit status on more than 400 citizen-activist groups, almost all conservative. These groups--representing tens of thousands of Americans--clearly met IRS tax-exempt standards. But the IRS delay and denial made it impossible for these groups to raise or spend money during the 2012 presidential election. Had they been able to, would the election have turned out differently? We’ll never know.

Democrats continue to claim the scandal was the result of rogue IRS agents who didn’t understand the law. They understood the law alright. And they were corrupt, not rogue.

We know from documents obtained through Congressional investigations and the Freedom of Information Act that the IRS was taking its cue from powerful Democrats and their left-wing allies, like For example, Michigan Senator Carl Levin repeatedly pressured the Service to investigate conservative non-profits. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama warned about “shadowy” Tea Party groups. Lois Lerner, the head of the IRS non-profit division and a Democratic Party loyalist, took the unmistakable ‘hint.’

Tactic number two: Investigate and prosecute.

The real lesson of the 2016 Election
In Wisconsin, Democrat prosecutors engaged in a bogus campaign-finance investigation into conservative groups which had supported Wisconsin’s Republican Governor, Scott Walker. The prosecutors subpoenaed emails and financial records of the groups and their employees. They staged pre-dawn raids on the homes of Wisconsin conservatives, confiscating computers and correspondence. Then, they warned the victims of these phony investigations and terrorizing raids that they’d go to jail if they told anyone what was happening to them. It took the state Supreme Court to end this gross abuse of government power. But the message was sent by Democrats in Wisconsin: threaten our authority and you will pay a steep price.

Tactic number three: Blackmail.

The American Legislative Exchange Council, also known as ALEC, is a nonprofit that is very good at getting free-market legislation passed at the state level. It is supported by a number of corporate donors, Coca-Cola and Kraft once among them. In 2012, left-wing groups – who have long hated ALEC – decided to target ALEC’s corporate donors. These leftist groups threatened to run ads branding the donors as racists or climate deniers unless they pulled their support. It worked. More than 100 major donors ended their funding.

As if these three tactics weren’t bad enough, the Left has added a new weapon to its intimidation arsenal: forced disclosure of political donors. This is when the names of people who give money to a cause, or a candidate, are made public.
Democrats Dress for Success!

Disclosure can be good when it lets citizens keep track of whose money may be influencing politicians. But it’s bad when it’s used to target and punish average Americans who make political donations.

Left-wing activists in California used financial disclosure records to assemble a searchable map of every person who donated to California’s Prop 8 campaign supporting traditional marriage. The donors on that list had their cars keyed, their windows broken, and their businesses flash-mobbed. Some Prop 8 supporters even lost their jobs, most notably the CEO of Mozilla Firefox, Brendan Eich.

So, how do we stop this intimidation? 

First, learn to recognize the Left’s bully tactics. They’re not subtle.

Second, be very wary of initiatives to increase financial disclosure. They sound good, but they’re almost always just Left-wing attempts to get new names of people to intimidate.

And finally, we must fight back. They can only win if we let them. We can’t let them. Our freedom depends on it.

Kimberly Strassel is a member of The Wall Street Journal editorial board. Prager University helps millions of Americans understand the fundamental values that shaped America and provides the resources to articulate them. Published with permission.

The Language of Liberty series is a collaborative effort of the Center for Self Governance (CSG) Administrative Team. CSG is a non-profit, non-partisan educational organization, dedicated to training citizens in applied civics. The authors include administrative staff, selected students, and guest columnists. The views expressed by the authors are their own and may not reflect the views of CSG. Contact them at

1 comment:

  1. I didn't know the Wall Street Journal had anyone that good. I am impressed!