- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 9, 2018

Locals in the nation’s capital are used to protests in their town; They have been a fixture in this city for many, many decades. Sometimes, these events draw a million people, sometimes a dozen. They can be raucous, dramatic, heartfelt, amazing, amusing, disturbing and, yes, violent. The city may see all of those Sunday when several factions have their say in Lafayette Park, an attractive seven-acre public space directly across from the White House.

“Lafayette Park has been used as a race track, a graveyard, a zoo, an encampment for soldiers during the War of 1812, and many political protests and celebrations,” according to National Park Service historic records.

Indeed. Those who want to rally for a cause in this historic spot or along the National Mall must make a formal application with the meticulous federal parks agency — which issues official permits for “demonstrations such as speeches, picketing, vigils and other activities designed to communicate a message,” according to guidelines.

Organizers for the “Unite the Right” rally — which marks the one-year anniversary of a violent event in Charlottesville, Virginia — have a permit. So do two large coalitions of interest groups who oppose them.

Sixteen streets around the park will be closed. Those who keep order have a mission which has long been in place.

In a recent press conference, D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said the law enforcement role “is to make sure that we have a First Amendment event that goes on without any types of violence or destruction of property.”

There will be many exercising those First Amendment rights on Sunday.

One coalition alone includes these groups: ANSWER Coalition, Party for Socialism and Liberation, Justice First, Link UP, Justice Center en El Barrio NYC, ONE DC, Internationalist Students Front-George Washington University, GW Queer Radicals, Philadelphia Liberation Center, GW Progressive Student Union, GW Young Democratic Socialists of America, Students for Justice in Palestine, CodePink, People Power Action, and Stop Police Terror Project.

Hopefully, these events will take place without violence. Hopefully.

It’s an issue that’s got the attention of U.S. voters. Eight of 10 voters, according to a new Politico/Morning Consult poll, say “political violence” a serious issue — and two thirds believe it to be widespread.

Is it?

The poll also found that six 10 say political violence has not affected their personal daily lives. See more — including opinions from Republicans, independents and Democrats — in the Poll du Jour at column’s end.

A MELANIA MOMENT

Amid all the caterwaul of Washington comes this calm message:

“The initial planning for the 2018 Christmas season is underway at the White House. First Lady Melania Trump and President Donald J. Trump are opening the people’s house up to the public for the traditional Christmas decorating of the White House,” the powers that be note.

“This year, the White House invites local musicians including high school bands, choirs, and Christmas-themed entertainers to apply for the opportunity to perform during the Holiday Open Houses throughout the month of December.

Those interested in volunteering to decorate this historic and significant site can apply through Sept. 3; performers have until Sept. 17. Find the master guide at Whitehouse.gov/Christmas; direct questions to directed to [email protected]

GARY JOHNSON, SENATE HOPEFUL

Let us turn our attention to Gary Johnson, who ran for U.S. president as a Libertarian twice, and managed to accrue 3 percent of the vote his last time up to bat in 2016. But wait. The Libertarian Party has asked Mr. Johnson to run for U.S. Senate in New Mexico; the current ticket features Republican Mick Rich versus first-term Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich.

Mr. Johnson, then a Republican, previously served New Mexico as governor from 1995-2003. Some pine for his return.

“Johnson is headstrong, blunt, flawed and ready to tug on Superman’s cape. In short, he would be a spectacular addition to the ballot,” writes Milan Simonich, a columnist for the Santa Fe New Mexican.

“For Heinrich, Johnson is the far more dangerous opponent. Rich isn’t going to catch fire. Johnson might. As for political experience, Johnson, 65, is a veteran,” Mr. Simonich continued, recalling the politician’s feistiness, his habit of vetoing legislation and his individualism.

“Johnson was more inclined to go skiing than to work with legislators to find a middle ground,” the columnist said.

“Let’s be honest. Johnson would invigorate a Senate election that’s in hibernation. He might not be able to knock out Heinrich. Johnson, though, would make the Senate contest the state’s hottest and most interesting election. And New Mexico’s two cautious candidates for governor might find themselves relegated to the inside pages.”

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POLL DU JOUR

79 percent of U.S. voters say “political violence” is a serious issue; 80 percent of Republicans, 76 percent of independents and 85 percent of Democrats agree.

62 percent overall say use of political violence is “widespread”; 63 percent of Republicans, 61 percent of independents and 66 percent of Democrats agree

59 percent overall say political violence has not had much impact on their daily personal life; 68 percent of Republicans, 63 percent of independents and 53 percent of Democrats agree

31 percent say the violence has had an impact on their life; 27 percent of Republicans, 27 percent of independents and 39 percent of Democrats agree.

9 percent overall are undecided about the impact; 6 percent of Republicans, 10 percent of independents and 8 percent of Democrats agree

Source: A Politico/Morning Consult poll of 1,994 registered U.S. voters conducted Aug. 2-6.

• Follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin.


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