The real debate

Although people don’t phrase it as such, but the importance of one of the central questions in U.S. politics during the Trump era cannot be understated: does Donald Trump, and his subsequent administration, pose an existential threat in a way that other presidents, particularly Republicans, do not?

Ultimately that’s what at the heart of the Sarah Huckabee Sanders restaurant controversy. If you believe that Trump is an unprecedented danger, then it’s more likely that you think many unorthodox tactics are justified. On the other hand, if you think Trump is bad but within the spectrum of permissible presidential behaviors, then the Red Hen controversy may cause you to fret about decorum or civility.

People who support unorthodox tactics generally do not see this as setting precedent in terms of dealing with all people they merely disagree with. Rather, they view unorthodox protests as a way to act toward a specific set of people uniquely committing atrocities.

People who don’t support these unorthodox tactics usually are concerned about a “slippery slope,” and what they see as a decay of reasonable debate between good faith actors.

Personally, I side more with the people who view Trump as an exceptional threat. In the past I’ve written about how mainstream right-wing politicians are also disgusting, but it’s still important that people in the United States do not passively accept Trumpism as the “new normal.” I’m not going to agree with every technique anti-Trump protesters use, but there’s much more at stake than Sarah Huckabee Sanders being politely asked to leave a restaurant.