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A Louisiana Republican’s Challenge to an Online Trash Talker Pretty Much Sums Up Modern Politics

After an online commenter called Rep. Clay Higgins a “traitor” this week, the Louisiana Republican challenged the man to a fight.

SO WHAT

Fed up with the genteel norms of institutions like media and Congress, Americans – especially on the right – increasingly want political leaders who aren’t afraid to (metaphorically) brawl.

WHAT HAPPENED

On Tuesday, Alaska resident Joel Dolphin commented on one of Higgins’ Facebook posts, CBS affiliate WWL-TV reported.

  • Dolphin criticized Higgins for voting against the certification of the 2020 election on Jan. 6 and said the congressman and his ilk were “domestic enemies to our Constitution.”
  • Higgins replied by referring to the man as “son” and saying he was easy to find.
  • When Dolphin offered to repeat his comments in person, Higgins issued the fight challenge.

Money quote: “Joel Dolphin, very short conversation. I’ll be in Alaska next year with Don Young. Beautiful. I’ve enjoyed my time there. Like I said. I’m easy to find Locate us a ring or a dojo. I’ll give you a few rounds to make your point.,” Higgins wrote. “Be seeing you. Higgins out.”

SAME ENERGY

Higgins’ tough-talking bravado isn’t anything new for him: it was on display in 2016, when Higgins – a police captain at the time – issued a brash warning to suspected gang members, which went viral on social media:

HOW DID WE GET HERE

While journalists and mainstream pundits are often horrified by the disregard for decorum shown by Higgins and others like him, for many American voters, such behavior is a signal that a politician isn’t an elitist insider.

  • People don’t respect institutional norms because they don’t respect the institutions: Polls show Americans’ trust in media and other institutions has absolutely collapsed in recent years.
  • Positioning yourself as an outsider is good strategy: Former President Donald Trump is probably the most successful example of a politician who used defiance of political correctness and convention as a way to rack up support from voters disillusioned by the system.
  • It gets publicity: Republican politicians like Reps. Matt Gaetz, of Florida, and Marjorie Taylor Greene, of Georgia, are the subject of countless unflattering reports in the press, but since many voters on the right are skeptical of establishment media anyways, all the negative coverage does it get them attention.

THE AFTERMATH

According to The Advocate, Dolphin said he has accepted Higgins’ challenge but “given his history of similar conduct I’m not expecting anything to happen.”

Quote: “Challenging a citizen to a fight isn’t a good look for a U.S. Congressman or for U.S. politics in general for that matter. It’s just another reason for his constituents to be disappointed in him — add it to the pile. I hope a more moderate and honest Republican successfully primaries him,” Dolphin told the newspaper.

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