Yesterday marks the day when the Republican party officially embraced authoritarianism.
In a remarkable statement, the Republican National Committee (RNC) declared that the January 6 Capitol Hill insurrection was “legitimate political discourse,” bowing to Donald Trump’s effort to turn a violent assault on the seat of democracy into some kind of patriotic rally. The RNC’s made the statement in censuring fellow Republicans Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for participating in the Congressional investigation into the insurrection.
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Instead of condemning the hundreds of Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol, attacked police officers, and threatened to hang a Republican vice president, the RNC instead complained that Cheney and Kinzinger were engaged in the “persecution of ordinary citizens” exercising their political rights.
“The Republican Party is so off the deep end now that they are describing an attempted coup and a deadly insurrection as political expression,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), a member of the House committee investigating the Capitol attack. “It is a scandal that historians will be aghast at, to think that a major political party would be denouncing Liz Cheney for standing up for the Constitution and not saying anything about Donald Trump’s involvement in the insurrection.”
Indeed, the RNC resolution portrays the insurrectionists prosecuted as political prisoners suffering from “Democrat abuse of prosecutorial power.” That echoes the line Trump has taken to describe them, even as he has spoken of pardoning them if he is re-elected in 2024.
Trump has been increasingly blatant in using language to describe his attempts to undermine the results of the 2020 presidential election. He recently complained that Mike Pence “could have overturned the election,” outright stating that he would have thrown out legitimate results. That kind of outrageous statement should have been met with universal outrage. Instead, it has now become a tenet of the GOP.
As has the fact that overturning the government by violent means is just another form of political expression.
The fact that it failed last time doesn’t mean that it won’t happen again. Most Republicans are pretending that the RNC statement is just rhetorical fluff. But that sort of humoring of Trump’s worst impulses is what got the nation to January 6.
One of the few Republicans to condemn his own party was Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT). “Shame falls on a party that would censure persons of conscience, who seek truth in the face of vitriol,” he tweeted. “Honor attaches to Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for seeking truth even when doing so comes at great personal cost.”
The head of the RNC is Ronna McDaniel. She used to be known as Ronna Romney McDaniel until Donald Trump asked her to remove her maiden name because he hated her uncle so much. Apparently, courage doesn’t run deep in the family.