On Tuesday, Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D – Illinois) became the most recent Democratic official to stage a high profile protest.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Gutierrez staged a sit-in while meeting with immigration officials at the Chicago Immigration and Customs Enforcement office. Unhappy with apparent policy disagreements with Trump Administration officials during the hour-long meeting, Gutierrez began his protest.
Representative Gutierrez’s spokesman said, “The congressman decided he did not get the answers he was looking for from the regional director, and he’s going to be staying inside until he gets answers, even if that means risking arrest.”
ICE released a statement saying Gutierrez “sought actions and assurances” that it simply could not give.
The standoff eventually ended with Gutierrez being removed by ICE security.
This isn’t the first time Rep. Gutierrez has staged a high profile protest. So far left is the Congressman on immigration, that he was arrested outside of the White House in 2011 while protesting President Obama’s deportation policy. He’s a lifelong “organizer”, and has apparently not kicked the habit since his election to represent Illinois’ 4th district in 1992.
What makes Gutierrez’s actions on Tuesday so notable, is that his radical methods are becoming all too common place among elected Democratic officials.
Senator Elizabeth Warren led a protest of the Trump Administration executive order in at Logan Airport in February. Congresswomen such as Jackie Speier (D – California) and Jan Schakowsky (D – Illinois) attended the Women’s March events the day after Inauguration.
Lest one thinks this is only a trend in resistance to the Trump Administration, House Democrats led a 25 hour-long sit-in on the House floor in favor of gun control measures.
This trend among Democratic officials is tiresome, infantile, and, from their perspective, unproductive.
Protest and civil disobedience can be effective means by which the downtrodden and unrepresented members of society can let their voice be heard on an issue that is otherwise ignored by mainstream society. To pick an easy example, African Americans had to protest in the Jim Crow South because they were denied recourse through the ordinary means of our constitutional system.
Democratic members of Congress seem to have forgotten that they are members of the two greatest deliberative bodies in the world. They hold the levers of power. They command a staff which can help draft a bill for any issue they so choose. They can take the floor to speak on any issue they desire. If they so fancy, every one of them can give a press conference, or go on one of the dozens of cable news shows to argue their points.
Instead of seeking a cheap headline and whipping up their base into hysterics, perhaps they should use the power of their office to work toward taking power away from the executive, and reasserting Congress’ power in crafting policy.
Instead of re-living their glory days of campus activism, perhaps they should attempt to use the budget process to direct policy.
In short, Democratic officials have no reason to perform an act of civil disobedience, when each of them are an elected member of the very government to which they are registering their disgust.
Perhaps if Democrats acted in accordance with the dignity of their office, their positions would merit more respect from the American electorate. Perhaps if they engaged in the difficult task of statesmanship, they would make real progress on their pet issues.
I suspect Rep. Luis Gutierrez would prefer to be escorted out of another government office in handcuffs. It’s a lot easier.