by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas became the latest victim of liberal activism targeting political figures personally when protesters shrouded his Washington, D.C., home in a giant foil blanket this week.
A left-leaning group that took credit for the stunt said it aimed to protest the continuation of certain Trump-era immigration policies under President Joe Biden.
While the group acknowledged the aggressive nature of the attack on Mayorkas’s home, it claimed on social media that circumstances demanded the breach of long-standing political norms that typically place a politician’s family out of bounds, reflecting a recent pattern of liberal activists going after the personal lives of their perceived political enemies.
“I do think that it’s a very disturbing element of the breakdown of our sense of limits within democratic politics,” said Charles Lipson, political science professor emeritus at the University of Chicago.
“And I think the reason that we’ve lost all sense of limits is that more and more, we understand political opponents not as the loyal opposition, but as enemies,” he added. “Against enemies, almost anything is permissible, up to and including violence.”
Public harassment of political figures briefly became a feature of activism during the Trump administration, when several top aides found themselves the focus of angry patrons at restaurants where they were attempting to dine. …
… David Hopkins, a political science professor at Boston College, said movements in the past have relied on confrontational tactics to push their agendas.
“I think that, going all the way back in history, there have been times when citizens who are outraged about something decide to show up,” Hopkins said. “Even in the American Revolution, they would show up in front of the royal governor’s house and shout their demands, so I don’t think it’s unprecedented.”
Hopkins said social media has likely driven the trend in personally focused protests, in part by elevating the profiles of aides and officials behind controversial policies.