I suppose it was inevitable. Virginia Democrats spent the last month hemming and hawing about whether to appear at the General Assembly’s session honoring the 400th anniversary of the Virginia Company arriving at Jamestown because the President was going to make an appearance. If they had managed to make it the whole way through his appearance without an incident, I think we all would have been flabbergasted. They didn’t.
Delegate Ibraheem Samirah, who represents the 86th House District (Fairfax/Loudoun), interrupted the President’s speech, raising some laminated signs proclaiming “go back to your corrupt home” alongside a picture of Trump Tower, as well as “deport hate” and “reunite my family and all shattered by systemic discrimination.” Within minutes, he had a tweet up, explaining his actions.
I just disrupted the @realDonaldTrump  speech in Jamestown because nobody’s racism and bigotry should be excused for the sake of being polite. The man is unfit for office and unfit to partake in a celebration of democracy, representation, and our nation’s history of immigrants. pic.twitter.com/0okD7eRVer 
— Delegate Ibraheem Samirah (@IbraheemSamirah) July 30, 2019 
While I’m sure Delegate Samirah will be lauded by the left for his “courage,” let’s be real here. He had absolutely nothing to lose and a lot to gain by doing what he did. As one of the newest members of the General Assembly, he has yet to sit through a full session of the legislature, unless you want to count the Democrats’ gun fundraiser special session last month. He hasn’t introduced a single piece of legislation yet , and his district is one of those that is so Democratic (it went 70%/27% Kaine/Stewart, 68%/31% Northam/Gillespie, 63%/31% Clinton/Trump) a glass of water with a D after it would win, to use Speaker Pelosi’s words .
This was a premeditated PR stunt, that’s all.
There’s a real problem with what he did, though. Every time somebody thinks that the way to stand up to somebody like the President is by acting like a child, it continues to coarsen our politics and divide the Commonwealth and our country. I have seen this time and time again on social media. The argument that “we’re not going to beat Trump by being polite” is a common refrain.
It’s also hilariously wrong.
That’s EXACTLY how you beat him, if that’s what you want to do.
Does anybody remember when Martin Luther King heckled President Eisenhower during a speech as part of his efforts on behalf of civil rights? Neither do I.
Anybody remember when Ghandi started punching British occupiers in the face as he lead India’s freedom movement? Neither do I.
So why is it that suddenly people seem to think that the way to combat behavior they disapprove of is to engage in that exact, same behavior? When did we stop telling our kids that two wrongs don’t make a right?
Whatever happened to “when they go low, we go high? ”
I’m constantly bombarded by people demanding that, as a Republican, I denounce the President every time he says something I disagree with. I don’t usually do that. And it’s not because I’m a coward, or because I secretly agree with him. It’s because I believe that actions speak louder than words. I believe I will make a much bigger difference by behaving the way I hope others will behave than by screaming epithets at them and at public officials on Twitter.
To Delegate Samirah, here’s some free advice you didn’t ask for from a Republican who has no problem if you ignore him and keep behaving badly:
If you oppose the President telling people to go back where they came from, don’t tell people to go back where they came from. If you oppose the President’s impolite behavior, be polite to your political opponents. If you oppose his policies, don’t vote for him in 2020 and help somebody to beat him. Show him what it means to be an elected official by listening to the other side, legislating to solve problems and protect people, and be a humble servant. Shouting down your neighbor, heckling from the crowd, preening on social media and raising money every time you do something outlandish isn’t opposing Trump – it’s emulating him.
You want to win this fight? Don’t let the President’s behavior change our standards. Go high when he goes low, and make a difference for your constituents. Nobody ever fixed a road, fixed a school or fixed an economy by heckling.
That’s not the Virginia Way, and it’s not the way to beat Donald Trump.