The GOP’s O.J. Moment
The Slide Toward Autocracy
Despite being physically threatened by a mob that brutally killed a Capitol police officer --- a mob incited by their abusive boyfriend --- 45 Republican Senators voted against impeaching the former President, against holding their abuser accountable --- and now 44 have voted that the process is “unconstitutional.” Like Nicole Brown Simpson, who kept going back to O.J. even after making numerous 9-1-1 calls, Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ron Johnson, Josh Hawley and the rest of the Trump Cult made their 9-1-1 call on January 6th, only to recant by January 27th, ready to move back in with their bete noir. And now we find that we can’t identify 17 Republicans who have enough integrity to convict Donald J. Trump of a blatant (digitally recorded!) crime.
Let’s be clear about what we’re witnessing. The Republican Party that we knew for the half century prior to 2016, the Party of “balanced budgets and limited Federal spending,” the Party of “free trade and reducing the National Debt,” the party of “compassionate conservativism,” is DEAD. It has been replaced by a party that didn’t even publish a Party Platform in the 2020 election cycle. Basically, they put on their “I’m with Stupid” tee-shirts and claimed the 2016 Platform was good enough to run on again (since, in fact, they had accomplished so little). The Republican Party has been replaced by a CULT with NO ideology beyond grievance, white nationalism/supremacy, and total allegiance to Trump. They have amped up their desire for voter suppression along with the dissemination of false narratives and misinformation. All they seem to care about is retaining power so they can appoint judges, gut environmental laws, de-regulate business and provide fat tax cuts for the wealthy. As the minority party they will attempt to do what they did to Obama starting in 2009: obstruct, delay, obstruct, delay, obstruct.
It is now February of 2021 and the Democrats have control of the executive and legislative branches and, even though their majority in the Senate is the thinnest it can be, they will have to two things: pass the Relief Bill via “reconciliation” and then do away with the filibuster to pave the way for future legislation (which may or may not happen). The Republicans, as of this past week, have basically acceded to Qanon Crazies and the Trump Cult and will not convict the former President, despite overwhelming evidence that he is, in fact, guilty (as early as last September he said OUT LOUD that he couldn’t/wouldn’t guarantee a peaceful transfer of power!). There has been a lot of talk about the country being as (or more) divided than it was in 1860, when the Civil War began with Southern secession starting before Lincoln was even sworn in. I don’t think we should take this comparison lightly. On November 5, 2020 Yale historian David Blight wrote a piece in the New York Review of Books entitled “Republicans: The New Confederacy” and the only fault I would find in his piece is that it doesn’t really touch on the racism and anti-Semitism that is part of the white nationalist-supremacist/xenophobic philosophy of T****’s party. Dana Milbank, in his Washington Post column on February 5, 2021 clarifies where he believes the GOP stands after watching 199 Representatives vote in support of Marjorie Taylor Greene, a renowned conspiracy theorist, racist, and anti-Semite. Together, the Blight and Milbank essays summarize where the Republican Party stands as Trump’s second impeachment proceeds.
According to Blight, “A modern campaign of voter suppression conducted by one of our parties grows with warped intensity . . . a constant rant about ‘voter fraud’ without evidence” is heard again and again. Blight continues: “The only thing rigged in this election are the Electoral College itself (in favor of less populated states that tend red), the decidedly undemocratic institution of the U.S. Senate (a Republican majority represents a population smaller by 15 million than the Democrats), and the myriad ways the current (then Trump) administration has manipulated government agencies to influence voting.” Blight describes this as part of a “new Confederacy:”
It knows what it hates: the two coasts, diverse cities, marriage equality,
certain kinds of feminism, political correctness (sometimes with reason),
university “elites,” and “liberals” generally. It is racial and undemocratic.
It twists American history to its own ends, substituting “patriotism” for
scholarship and science. It has weaponized “truth” and rendered it
What is most important to note about this new iteration of the Republican Party is that it is consciously undemocratic. I have said before that Trump’s GOP has become the White People’s Party and, in the wake of the January 6th siege on our Capitol, there is little room to dispute this notion.
Milbank, the day after the Republicans voted to keep Marjorie Taylor Greene on committees Kevin McCarthy had appointed her to, recoiled in horror because Greene is the embodiment of Trump’s racism and white nationalism. As Milbank notes:
One hundred ninety-nine Republican members Congress rallied to the
Defense of a vile, unapologetic anti-Semite in their ranks who calls for
the assassination of her opponents. This is more than a Republican
problem, it’s an American problem.
Milbank then proceeds to produce evidence of Greene’s extremism: supporting Holocaust deniers, posing with a white supremacist leader during her campaign, approving a claim that Israeli intelligence assassinated JFK and, of course, claiming the Rothschilds set the California forest fires with space lasers! Based on this, Milbank notes that “rallying around this unrepentant anti-Semite by Republicans is an ominous new frontier.” He then quotes numerous Republican House members who made excuses for Greene (“We’ve all said things we regret” --- except Greene has shown NO SIGNS of regretting any of her lunatic beliefs!). In concluding his observations, Milbank says:
In retrospect, it’s clear Trump led us to this point. In his 2016 campaign,
he singled out prominent Jews as part of a “global power structure” that
doesn’t “have your good in mind.” He elevated white supremacists, spoke
of “blood suckers,” told Jewish Republicans they wouldn’t support him
“because I don’t want your money,” and shared an image of a Star of David
atop a pile of cash. As president, he spoke of the “very fine people”
marching with the white supremacists in Charlottesville. Anti-Semitic violence
increased significantly . . . Trump continued embracing the far-right
violent Proud Boys in a presidential debate.
All of this, all of this evidence is out there --- in the public record, along with those hours and hours of digital video of Trump’s haranguing his followers, going back months and months, claiming the election was a “fraud,” that he “won in a landslide,” and that his supporters needed to march on the Capitol to “take their country back.” Nonetheless, the Republican Cowards in the United States Senate, led by Mitch McConnell and Ted Cruz and Lindsay Graham and Marco Rubio and Josh Hawley and . . . and . . . and . . . and. It is a chamber teeming with white men of NO integrity who will acquit a criminal, a cheater, a con-man. That’s the real “fraud” going on but it’s worse than that --- because this party of No Integrity is also working every day at dissembling our democracy and our democratic institutions. The Republicans have become the party of fraud and autocracy and the evidence of that is on full display on our screens every day.
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