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GOP to Defenders of Democracy: Drop Dead

In their mad rush to declare fealty to Donald Trump, the Republican National Committee chose to censure two of their own members of Congress in a manner that was called “Stalinist. Like, literally” – and nearly endorsed the January 6 insurrection in the process before “clarifying” that they were just referring to folks who were “peaceful” in their attempts to help Trump execute a coup to invalidate an election.

You read that right. To be a Republican in good standing, you have to insist that members of Congress willing to investigate Trump’s self-coup deserve censure, while declared participants in it are “ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.”

The resolution can be read here [1]. Please note that the violent insurrectionists still got a bone thrown at them anyway, what with the assertion that the January 6 committee was, “Democrat abuse of prosecutorial power for partisan purposes.”

Why, you’d almost think Trump was considering blanket pardons for the cop-beaters and glass-smashers – and you’d be right [2].

All of this, of course, is so that Republicans can turn their backs on two of their own: Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. The two members of Congress are the Republicans on the January 6 investigative committee. That would be the committee that has discovered Trump’s coup was more thought-out and had more White House support [3] than previously acknowledged.

Some Republicans as a whole would love to put January 6 in the rear-view mirror, but Trump won’t let them, as he keeps praising the insurrectionists. So to keep the Trumpenproletariat onside, the GOP has to go after Cheney and Kinzinger.

For a brief moment, it appeared the RNC had gone so far as to declare the insurrection itself to be “legitimate political discourse” before Chair Ronna McDaniel attempted damage control (WaPo [4]).

In a statement Friday afternoon, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel sought to clarify the resolution’s language, saying it was meant to refer to “ordinary citizens who engaged in legitimate political discourse that had nothing to do with violence at the Capitol.”

Unfortunately, McDaniel kept talking, and revealed what she thought “legitimate political discourse” actually meant.

McDaniel said she was particularly upset when an elderly, recently widowed friend of hers was subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 committee after it was reported the friend was an alternate elector at the campaign’s behest. She declined to name the friend.

So … cop-beaters, gun toters, and glass breakers are out, but coup participants trying to invalidate the votes of an entire state are worthy of defense. That’s your GOP in 2022, folks.

Adding insult to injury, the RNC resolution also tries to go back in time and prevent Cheney and Kinzinger from ever being Republicans in the past. As John V. Last [5] noted (emphasis in original):

Buried in the censure of Cheney and Kinzinger is a revealing phrase:

. . . they are both using their past professed political affiliation . . .


This isn’t a stray word. It’s an assertion that Cheney and Kinzinger were never real Republicans—that they were impostors the whole time, whose actions over the past year represented not a break in behavior but a revelation of their true selves.

This is Stalinist. Like, literally. [6] There’s simply no other way to read it.

And it is extraordinary in American politics.

It is nice that a handful of elected Republicans are pushing back against this censure document. But I do not understand—and I mean this, genuinely—how someone could remain in the GOP. It is not a political party in any meaningful sense. It is authoritarian machine.

I bring this up – again – for a reason. Far too many pundits, to say nothing of voters, just assume Republican and conservative are interchangeable terms. They aren’t and they never have been. One need not be a Republican to notice and to call out President Biden’s mistakes, in foreign policy [7] or in domestic policy [8].

Indeed, being outside the GOP makes the criticisms more relevant, because the American people can take the argument seriously without the risk of enabling the aforementioned authoritarian machine.

Republicans, once again, have chosen Donald Trump over American democracy. That doesn’t mean conservatives have to do it.