Rep. Mo Brooks has an absurd theory about why so many of his fellow Republicans are retiring: to avoid being assassinated by supposedly violent 'leftists.'
Republicans are leaving Congress in droves ahead of surges in Democratic turnout and cratering polls. Altogether, 38 House Republicans and 2 Senate Republicans are retiring at the end of their term.
That doesn't even include several others who have resigned in disgrace.
But to hear it from Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks, there is an altogether more sinister reason so many Republican lawmakers are cleaning out their desks: to avoid assassination by "leftists."
Brooks expounded on this theory on "The Dale Jackson Show," according to Roll Call.
"One of the things that’s concerning me is the assassination risk may become a factor," said Brooks, who plays on the Capitol baseball team and was present when an onlooker opened fire on their practice last year, wounding Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA). Brooks noted that Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Reps. Ryan Costello (R-PA), Pat Meehan (R-PA), Dennis Ross (R-FL), and Tom Rooney (R-FL), who are all retiring, also play on the baseball team.
"You have to wonder with that kind of disproportionate retirement number whether what happened in June played a factor," said Brooks. "There are a growing number of leftists who believe the way to resolve this is not at the ballot box but through threats and sometimes through violence and assassinations."
Brooks' comments are not only needlessly inflammatory, they are ridiculous.
Many of the lawmakers Brooks cited have clear reasons for retiring that have nothing to do with violence.
Flake, for instance, was essentially pushed out by Trump's base. He decided to retire, rather than face a difficult re-election bid he might well have lost.
Meehan announced his retirement in January, when it was revealed that he used taxpayer dollars to settle a sexual harassment claim from a former aide.
And Costello's congressional district had been redrawn in a way that made him likely to lose. He also cited the difficulty of running in today's political climate, but he pointed to Trump as part of the problem.
“Whether it's Stormy Daniels, or passing an omnibus spending bill that the president threatens to veto after promising to sign, it’s very difficult to move forward in a constructive way today," he said when he announced his decision to retire.
None of the dozens of Republicans leaving the House have cited fear of assassination as a reason.
As for Brooks and his supposed concerns about violence, it should be noted that he remains adamantly opposed to gun control. Seeing his colleague shot before his eyes did nothing to change his views; it was, in his words, just a "bad side effect" of liberty.
The idea of a leftist violence spree threatening our country has come up before with Republicans. In February, New York Rep. Claudia Tenney said that most mass shootings are committed by Democrats. When asked to explain her claim, she shouted "Fake news!" at reporters.
Republicans are openly acknowledging that they are likely to lose the House this November. That's why so many of them aren't even bothering to run for seats they are likely to lose anyway. But it's not bullets they're afraid of; it's ballots. And that, unlike Brooks' ridiculous theory, is a very legitimate fear.