Far-Right Digging a Grave for America
BY RICHARD C. GROSS
“’Tis the times’ plague, when madmen lead the blind.”
William Shakespeare, Gloucester, King Lear, Act IV, Scene 1
The lying of Republicans spreads like the coronavirus, both with different variants.
Now the Republicans are telling us to believe the mob that invaded the Capitol, leading to at least five deaths and $1.5 million in property damage, merely was “legitimate political discourse” rather than rioters climbing up the walls and charging through the doors, attacking police, with some people screaming to kill Vice President Mike Pence.
Is the Republican Party stupid or is it insulting us by treating us as if we’re all dumb enough to believe the storming of the Capitol was just a romp through our seat of democracy to make speeches supporting Trump’s Big Lie that he won reelection?
Millions of people watched on television and have seen newspaper photos of the desecration of a hallowed public building, last invaded by 4,500 experienced British troops in 1814. There was nothing “legitimate” about the siege of the columned edifice by hundreds of Trump-inspired thugs.
The warped definition of the insurrection by the Republican National Committee, a lie, appeared in a resolution censuring Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois for their membership on the House select panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attempt to overthrow the government. The resolution, reportedly urged by Trump loyalists, has divided the party.
The two “are participating in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse, and they are both utilizing their past professed political affiliation to mask Democrat abuse of prosecutorial power for partisan purposes,” the resolution said.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who usually is more reserved in his comments and no longer speaks with Trump, condemned the resolution as being out of bounds for the RNC and bitterly disagreed with its description of the Capitol assault, virtually saying it was a lie.
“We saw it happen,” he told reporters. “It was a violent insurrection for the purpose of trying to prevent the peaceful transfer of power after a legitimately certified election, from one administration to the next. That’s what it was.”
“The issue is whether or not the RNC should be sort of singling out members of our party who may have different views of the majority,” McConnell said. “That’s not the job of the RNC.”
How refreshing to hear directly and publicly from a Republican leader a rebuke of his party’s promotion of a lie that has been spread through the country for more than a year and believed by millions of supporters of a mendacious former president.
That “legitimate political intercourse” also injured more than 150 people and have led so far to criminal charges against more than 700 of the insurrectionists. The first trial is to begin Feb. 28 in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., The New York Times reported.
The Times identified the defendant as Guy Wesley Reffitt, an oil industry worker who prosecutors said is a member of the far-right group, the Texas Three Percenters. Prosecutors told the newspaper his teenage son and daughter will testify that their father “threatened to shoot them if they went to the FBI about him.”
Nearly 200 people so far have pleaded guilty to the attempted coup and nearly 90 of them have been sentenced, it said.
Not everyone opposes the censure resolution, including that paragon of intellectual conservatism, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who tried last year to expel Cheney and Kinzinger.
“Everyone wants to kick them out,” the Times quoted her.
And then there’s Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, who took over for Cheney as the third-ranking House Republican: “The RNC has every right to take any action” to disapprove of her predecessor and Kinzinger, The Hill newspaper reported.
The GOP under the influence of Trump and his right-wing allies are digging a grave for America on a variety of fronts, seeking to bury its ideals as outlined in the nation’s founding documents. That includes the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights, that were approved by the states in 1791, 15 years after the country’s founding.
Trumpism may backfire when the “ordinary citizens,” who have redefined what patriotism is to accommodate a leader who is far from being a patriot, wake up and realize they’ve been had, that Trump’s use of racism and demonizing opponents to lure their votes does nothing to help them lead productive lives; it does the opposite.
America is diversifying more and more. The white population, which decreased 8.6 percent since 2010 to 204.3 million, is expected to become a minority in 2045, according to the 2020 Census Bureau count.
The estimated U.S. population is 331,893,745 as of Dec. 1, 2021, the third most populated country after China and India, the bureau said.
And how are the Republicans reacting to the increasing anger and bitterness toward diversity, inflation and the pandemic, hoping the voters will blame President Joe Biden for all of it? With their typical twisting of reality:
They’re ganging up again on Dr. Anthony S. Fauci because they need a target, an innocent bull’s eye who is Biden’s advisor on the virus, to woo Republican voters.
Fauci, 81, is not a disaster. On the contrary, he is a highly respected infectious disease specialist and immunologist who has served eight presidents. His detractors blurt meaningless criticism of Fauci without evidence of wrongdoing — all lies, like bullies in a schoolyard. Like Trump.
Fauci’s TV appearances explaining the latest twists and turns of a coronavirus that just won’t go away make him a target of far-right ridicule at a time when the public is sick of the deadly disease it causes, COVID-19. It has killed more than 900,000 Americans, with 76.7 million cases reported nationwide.
To the Republicans, Fauci is a convenient scapegoat. They stir up a tempest in order to create anger and resentment, someone to blame, along with Biden, for the endless pandemic. Hitler did it with the Jews, among others.
Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg gave some examples of the irresponsible Republican taunting of Fauci, who Republican strategist John Feehery said many Americans view as “Mr. Lockdown.”
Mehmet Oz, a TV doctor running in the Senate primary in Pennsylvania, called Fauci a “petty tyrant;” in Ohio, Jane Timken, also running for the Senate, ran an ad on Fox News headlined “Fire Fauci;” conservative Kevin Micholson, running for governor in Wisconsin, says Fauci “should be fired and referred to prosecutors.” None said why.
Fauci’s response, as he told Stolberg in an interview: “I didn’t make myself a polarizing figure. I’ve been demonized by people who are running away from the truth.”
And Republicans who accept, parrot and are influenced by the lies of Trump and his slavish supporters have destroyed the truth. It’s been going on for six years, and America is worse for it.
But lying seems to be the only way these Republicans know how to attract a base of voters, spreading bile and hatred instead of being positive by introducing programs and policies that will whip up votes for them. And their only platform is to follow Trump. Unconscionable.
Richard C. Gross, a correspondent, bureau chief and foreign editor of United Press International, retired as the opinion page editor of The Baltimore Sun.