Inflammatory political rhetoric leads to a toxic atmosphere

Someone vandalized U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy’s Mt. Lebanon office, and while police are trying to answer who did it, maybe it’s also a good time to ask why.
As someone who lives in the community, and who is active in local politics, I have seen a change in the tone of public conversation that helps explain what went on during the late hours of the Independence Day holiday.
The political atmosphere has become toxic, and vandalism is the kind of thing that happens in a toxic environment.
By now there can be no secret that the political left embarked on a strategy, complete with instruction book, to target Republican members of Congress with protests, disruptions and ridicule, done under the guise of seeking “meetings” between representatives and their constituents.
One need only see the disrupted town halls, street theatrics and reckless online comments to understand that the line has been crossed between promoting dialogue and ginning up old-fashioned hatred. Nothing any Republican does will satisfy the protesters because the opposition is not there to be satisfied. It is there to set up political challenges by the Democrats in 2018.
A spokesman for the state Republican Party called attention to the atmosphere of hostility created around Mr. Murphy’s office by protesters and, in short order, their supporters were online slinging insults and innuendo.
One of the leaders of the weekly protest posted an online comment invoking the “Reichstag fire.” Reichstag fire? Seriously? There’s not much bottom left in the gutter when Nazi metaphors are thrown into a political discussion.
That’s the problem. When we say indefensible things we inspire indefensible behavior. Words matter. We can do better. And without the spray paint.
Republican Committee of
Allegheny County
Mt. Lebanon
This article was originally published in the July 14th, 2017 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette