MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) is a reliable supporter of Donald Trump. He recently was one of two senators who implausibly claimed, during a meeting on DACA, that Trump did not use a highly derogatory and profane term about majority non-white nations. In short, Cotton almost certainly lied to provide the president with cover for wanton bigotry. Charles Pierce writes of Cotton and Trump in the January 16 Esquire: "The two of them share an instinct for vicious, self-serving political utilitarianism, an overweening ambition far beyond their actual talents, and a casual disinterest in the truth if it conflicts with expedience."
It is not, therefore, surprising that Cotton and Trump share an intolerance toward those individuals and groups that disagree with them. Of course, it is one of the most basic assumptions of democracy that constituents can communicate their concerns and criticisms to their representatives through a variety of means, such as emails, letters, the telephone and protests. This ability for constituents to express their views is one of the most vital ingredients in a robust democracy.
However, Cotton -- a Tea Party favorite -- apparently doesn't believe that such communication is welcome, when it comes to those who take issue with his positions. The Arkansas Times reported on January 18 that Cotton's Washington, DC office has been issuing cease-and-desist letters to some of his Arkansas residents, warning them not to contact Cotton. The official Senate letter reads:
This letter is immediate notification that all communication must cease and desist immediately with all offices of US Senator Tom Cotton.
All other contact will be deemed harassment and will be reported to the United States Capitol Police.
The Office of US Senator Tom Cotton
Not only is Cotton's office demanding that unwanted dissenters stop communicating with him, it is also threatening police action. Little Rock CBS television station KTHV quoted a Cotton staffer as saying the cease-and-desist letters are being sent "under extreme circumstances." The staffer claims the letter was only sent to one individual who used vulgar language. However, the advocacy group Ozark Indivisible claims that several threatening letters from Cotton's office were sent. This has been confirmed by the Arkansas Gazette. Thus, it does not appear to the be case of an individual being singled out. Rather, it would be an action aimed at members of an organization -- and perhaps others -- that belong to the Trump resistance movement.
In 2015, AlterNet ran an article pinpointing "ten horrifying facts about Tom Cotton." After listing his far right positions, the article notes, "this much is clear: this freshman senator is an arrogant bully and needs a time out." Cotton took the lead early on in opposing any nuclear negotiations with Iran. He wants to increase the number of detainees at Guantánamo. According to the AlterNet article, "He thinks food-stamp recipients are 'addicts,'" and "he has opposed legislation to expand women’s rights." In short, his policies are hard to separate from Trump's.
Given the mailing of cease-and-desist letters to selected residents of Arkansas who contact his office, it appears Cotton and Trump share another characteristic besides general public policies: an inability to accept criticism as public servants.
The Washington Press wrote an article on the Cotton cease-and-desist letter affair, in which it stated:
As the Republican Party has turned further and further from even pretending to represent their voters’ interests and devoting themselves wholly to their puppet masters in the plutocracy, their efforts to dismiss and ignore the constituents they ostensibly represent grow more shameless by the day.
Republicans en masse have refused to hold town hall meetings, called the police on protestors, and even literally run with their tails between their legs to avoid talking to their angry voters.
The Arkansas Times, in its article on the controversial letters to constituents, reported:
Yesterday, demonstrators -- self-identified as being from "shithole countries" -- were asked to leave Cotton's Washington office after a noisy encounter with staff members who told them they'd be arrested for unlawful entry if they didn't leave. They did, chanting "Dream Act Now."
Like Trump, Cotton apparently believes that representing people in government means intimidating them.