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Rep. Cori Bush’s disturbing, childish attempt to silence debate

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 8/4/2021 Brad Polumbo
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Rep. Cori Bush has been sleeping on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. The far-left Missouri Democrat and her allies are protesting Saturday’s expiration of the federal government’s order banning evictions nationwide. But a disturbing aspect of the congresswoman’s stunt makes this much more than a mere dispute over housing policy.

For context, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued in September 2020 a unilateral mandate essentially prohibiting the eviction of nonpaying tenants in most circumstances. And the countless middle- and working-class landlords affected by this de facto seizure of millions of properties were not compensated. This makes the so-called “eviction moratorium,” at absolute best, constitutionally suspect.

Issued by unelected bureaucrats, the order wrought chaos on the rental housing market. To understand why, just imagine what would happen to the grocery industry if the government said customers were allowed to go into grocery stores and take whatever they wanted without paying.

The “eviction moratorium” has, rather predictably, led to many properties being occupied by nonpaying tenants, bankrupting innocent landlords (whose mortgage payments and bills were not paused). It also has had the perverse effect of leading many landlords to keep possible rentals off the market, seeing as they had no recourse to enforce payment. This policy has left a whopping $21 billion in back rent waiting to bankrupt tenants, landlords, taxpayers, or whoever ultimately gets stuck with the bill.

There are too many obvious problems with the “eviction moratorium” to count. Despite this, Bush isn’t just arguing for its reimposition — she’s attempting to silence debate by painting those who oppose the moratorium as literally violent. 

“Last night, we stood on the steps of the Capitol in a moment of silence for all the people who are unhoused whose lives have been taken because of policy violence,” Bush wrote in a tweet. (Emphasis mine.) “For all of those whose lives will be at risk until the eviction moratorium is extended. We need to save lives.”

This is where the congresswoman’s stunt turns really disturbing. It’s perfectly legitimate for Bush to argue for her preferred federal housing policy, and even do so in emotional terms, as wrong-headed and ignorant as her position may be. But to accuse those who dare disagree with her of literal violence and attempt to reframe disagreement as “policy violence” is a chilling attempt to silence debate.

Speech is not violence. Arguments are not assault. Ideas aren’t a threat to physical safety.

All good-faith political actors, on the Left or the Right, must acknowledge these basic truths. Once we start labeling speech as violence or disagreement as deadly, the next step is to suppress speech with government force — or violence.

After all, in Bush’s telling, opposing the “eviction moratorium” is an act of violence. So, in this view, wouldn’t actual violence against opponents of the moratorium be justified as self-defense? One does not need to go much further down this path to start justifying acts of political violence, such as the horrific 2017 attempted assassination of GOP members of Congress during a congressional baseball game practice session.

Of course, we can and should have a robust debate over the right federal policies to respond to evictions and the very real problems plaguing our housing markets. The congresswoman isn’t wrong to suggest that these complex issues, just like many issues, ultimately involve questions with grave ramifications for human life.

But despite the serious implications, Bush hasn’t bothered to waste much time on serious arguments in favor of the eviction moratorium. She has instead resorted to grotesque emotional manipulation, childish stunts, and bad-faith charges of “violence” against her opponents. This weaponization of emotion reveals the substantive emptiness of Bush’s position — and the congresswoman’s contempt for the freedom of speech that protects her fringe political advocacy in the first place.

Brad Polumbo (@Brad_Polumbo) is a libertarian-conservative journalist and Washington Examiner contributor. Subscribe to his YouTube channel or email him at bradpolumbojournalism@gmail.com.

Tags: Opinion, Beltway Confidential, Blog Contributors, Cori Bush, Evictions, Housing, Homelessness, Democratic Party, Congress, Protests

Original Author: Brad Polumbo

Original Location: Rep. Cori Bush’s disturbing, childish attempt to silence debate

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