As House Democrats seek to prosecute Donald Trump for “incitement of insurrection,” many conservatives have defended him by pointing to cases where Democrats have used inflammatory political rhetoric. But the comparison is more than just superficial.
Ironically, the very Democrats now leading the case against Trump, including Rep. Jamie Raskin (D), have used phrases like “fight like hell” to galvanize their supporters, according to reports.
Democrats have zeroed in on a few soundbites as they seek to argue that Trump provoked a riot at the Capitol, with one phrase — “fight like hell” — coming up again and again. But the same Democrats have used identical or nearly identical rhetoric to excite the liberal base, the so-called Trump War Room pointed out, according to the New York Post.
“I’ll fight like hell”
When Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in September, Raskin, who is leading the House’s team of impeachment managers, encouraged his followers to “fight like hell” to stop an “assault” on health care and abortion rights by Republicans, the Post reported.
In 2017, Raskin called for an investigation into the debunked Russia collusion hoax — which, it is worth noting, involved falsely claiming that an election was stolen, something Democrats are now accusing Trump of having done. “This is our Democracy — fight for it,” the Democrat said, according to Fox News.
After Robert Mueller concluded his investigation in 2019, noted collusion truther Eric Swalwell (D-CA) said he would “fight like hell” to make sure the Mueller report saw the light of day, as Fox reported. “I’ll fight like hell to make sure that we see this report whether it’s organizing again, whether it’s using my lungs, whether it’s out-maneuvering with our minds, the American people are going to see this report,” the congressman said.
“I’ll fight like hell.” – Rep. Eric Swalwell in 2019. pic.twitter.com/iD7Z1CggcO
— Trump War Room (@TrumpWarRoom) February 10, 2021
Begging the question
Democrats and their allies have generally argued that Trump’s rhetoric is not comparable to the extreme language of Democratic politicians like Maxine Waters (D-CA), claiming that Democrats have not inspired political violence.
Some have seemed to reach for an argument along the lines of “incitement only counts if people get hurt,” a somewhat contrived, cynical, and not totally honest claim that seems to beg the question.
For one thing, political violence coming from the left is not hard to find, with critics such as Rand Paul (R-KY) pointing to this summer’s riots and the near-fatal shooting of Republican lawmaker Steve Scalise (LA) by a supporter of failed Democratic presidential primary candidate Bernie Sanders (VT).
It’s a bit presumptuous to dismiss out of hand any connection between these incidents and the rhetoric of Democrats, to say the least.
Of course, Raskin and his allies could always say that they didn’t mean “fight like hell” literally. But they’d have to concede that maybe Trump didn’t, either. If they’re going to make this a linchpin of their case, they can’t have it both ways.