In the past 24 hours, several Republicans - Ken Cuccinelli, Bob McDonnell, Lawrence Verga, etc. - have condemned acts of violence or threats of violence against Tom Perriello. For instance, Verga says, "If you disagree with him then don't vote for him in November, but promoting and/or committing any act of violence toward him or his family should not and will not be tolerated." Cuccinelli called the posting of Perriello's brother's address, "appalling," adding, "I think that is way over the line. I don't think it's even close." And Bob McDonnell chimed in as well: "I certainly condemn anybody using any acts of vandalism or violence to express their opinion...That's not the way we do business in Virginia."Although I definitely disagree with how Cuccinelli and McDonnell have been trying to empower the tea party in the past, I'll give them credit for standing up against violence as a part of the political debate. I also hope that they'll step up their effort on this front by trying to stamp out the extremist rhetoric that's being used and refuse to associate with the tea party when it promotes hatred in the future.
With that being said, it appears as though there are a some folks in the GOP leadership who aren't interested in doing that. In an article on the backlash the Tea Party has launched against Tom Perriello due to his support of health care reform, the National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Andy Sere was quoted suggesting that this type of violence was inevitable and that Perriello wasn't a victim.
"Central and Southside Virginians are the ones who are going to have the bear the burden of increased taxes," he said. "What you're seeing is a frustration among his constituents who believe he's not listening to them."This is extremely disturbing on many fronts. Not only is a Republican Party spokesman essentially condoning violence against an innocent person (Perriello's family in this case), but he's actually trying to use that violence to score political points. That type of behavior isn't acceptable when it's use by extremists in the Tea Party and it certainly isn't acceptable for a leader in the GOP. As Lowell points out, this means that Republican elected officials and party leaders have a very clear choice. They can join with the vast majority of Americans and "unequivocally condemn violence and incitement to violence" or they can "condone it and end up with blood on [their] hands." In the past these so called leaders have tried to attach themselves to the dangerous rhetoric promoted by the tea party but, after we have received a glimpse of what that rhetoric can lead to, most reasonable people now agree they now have a responsibility to help put an end to that dangerous and violent type of activity.