I’m not sure if people have completely wrapped their minds around this, but we have an entire political party that has converted into an authoritarian—albeit Americanized version—style of politics that cares nothing about U.S. democracy or anyone who is not white.
With the exception of a few dissenting Republican senators who aren’t up for reelection until 2024 or 2026 (only Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is on the ballot in 2022) or are retiring, the GOP not only acquitted Donald Trump of inciting an insurrection that he clearly incited, but they told Republican voters that the lies Trump told them were true: The election was stolen and you have a right to be angry about that.
And it’s working.
During the impeachment trial last week, his defense lawyers reinforced those lies, and Republicans basically sat by and said nothing to counter them. They, in effect, are a party of turncoats. What makes their behavior so terrifying is that Democrats, who hold control of the Senate by only Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote, are left with no choice but to negotiate with the very people whose leading members encouraged the coup and instigated supporters to undermine American institutions.
Pam Keith, a U.S. Navy veteran who ran out of Florida’s 18th Congressional District as the Democratic nominee, told The Root that Democrats should give up on working with Republicans as if they are operating in good faith and have shown that they will be as corrupt and obstructionist as Trump.
“What they’re saying is we don’t care that he broke the law,” said Keith, who also hosts the politics show But What It Really Means. “He’s our guy and we’re with our guy and there’s nothing you can say to make us turn on our guy. He’s above the law. He’s above the Constitution. He is above the well-being of the United States because he’s our mechanism to retaining power. That is the absolute definition of totalitarian dictatorship. We don’t care what he does—especially if what he does hurts you,” she said.
“You cannot live in a diverse country when the paradigm is oppressed or be oppressed. That’s what’s going on in South Sudan right now. There’s only one way: bloody conflict. The only way a country like ours survives is through mutual agreement to set a standard. That’s what the Constitution is. That’s what the rule of law is. If you don’t have that, then there’s no incentive to peacefully allow the other sides to exercise power.”
Kyle Bibby, national campaign manager at Common Defense and a former Marine Corps Infantry officer, told The Root that had a foreign entity engaged in an attack similar to the Jan. 6 coup attempt or rallied the support of the main culprit thereafter, the U.S. military would have responded with an offensive strike or at the minimum stiff economic penalties. But he added that the militias and Trump supporters who were there are ultimately not so much the issue as is the Republican Party that empowers them.
When asked about the violent insurrectionists, Bibby said, “If they were in Afghanistan, we would’ve hit them. Either a raid, drop a bomb on them, whatever it is.” He continued, “But the organizations that are funding this and who are backing this that are creating the political movement behind this are organizations like Fox News, Breitbart, One America News Network, and the Republican Party. If these organizations existed in another country, we would be sanctioning them. We would be seizing their assets for inciting terroristic threats against an American ally or against U.S. interests.”
Mind you, Republicans lead a meaningless investigation into the Benghazi attack, accusing Democrats of being soft on terrorism. They forced Susan Rice to withdraw her name from consideration for Obama’s secretary of state because of their unfounded claims that she did not react appropriately to the 2012 attacks on the American consulate in Libya. They drilled former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in very bad faith, for hours over her management of the tragedy during a hearing in 2015. Meanwhile, when it comes to the attack on the U.S. Capitol, Republican Congress members called for the nation to move on and acquitted the man responsible for inciting it.
“The bottom line is that this kind of white nationalist violence was never taken seriously,” Pam Campos-Palma, director of Peace & Security at the Working Families Party, told The Root, “because it is inherent to the GOP, policing and national security institutions.”
In addition to terrorism against their fellow citizens and authoritarian behavior, Republicans also traffic in conspiracy theories. Newly sworn member of Congress Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga) has become Trump’s loudest disseminator of conspiracy theories and lies about the 2020 election, according to CNN:
Greene also peddled in 2017 the debunked “Clinton Kill List” or “Clinton Body Count” conspiracy, which alleges the Clintons have assassinated their associates. She spread false conspiracies the Clintons were involved in sextrafficking and peddled the cruel conspiracy that Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was not killed during an attempted robbery but murdered by Democratic actors.
CNN’s KFile previously reported that Greene in 2017 peddled the “Pizzagate” conspiracy, a debunked conspiracy alleging that Clinton and other Democratic Party leaders were running a human-trafficking and pedophilia ring out of a pizzeria in Washington, DC. In a blog post, she suggested that the White supremacist rally held in 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, that killed one woman was an “inside job” to “further the agenda of the elites.” Greene also endorsed 9/11 trutherism conspiracies and falsely claimed there was no evidence a plane crashed into the Pentagon, according to reporting from Media Matters.
She was stripped of her committee assignments, but the GOP leadership still supported her.
In Texas, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott is blaming wind turbines and the Green New Deal for power outages across his state—which are lies. MSNBC’s Chris Hayes spent more than seven minutes debunking right-wing media lies about the outages, but Republicans in Congress aren’t doing much to quell them. In fact, they are spreading them. Much of why they are doing this is because they feel their power is being threatened and the only way to galvanize support for their causes is through lying and scaring people so intensely that they will see lies as truth. Those people are the ideal type of supporters Republicans can groom into ill-informed and lethal insurrectionists and white supremacists who will help you maintain power—even if it destroys the country, so long as enough of the “enemy”—Black folks and people of color—suffer and/or die as a result.
Malcolm Nance, a national security expert and author of the upcoming book, They Want to Kill Americans: The Armed Militias, The Fanatical Terrorists, and The Deranged Ideology of the Coming Trump Insurgency, told The Root that not only is the Republican Party behaving like a terror group, he predicted soon after the Charlottesville, Va., attacks in 2017 that Trump’s use of insurrectionist language—“stand down and stand by”—essentially would become a white supremacist call to arms akin to kind of terrorist extremism he saw as a military intelligence officer.
“If Trump wins, these unofficial paramilitaries, the Proud Boys, the Boogaloo Boys, the state militias, all these other groups, are essentially going to become semi-official Brownshirts [the original paramilitary of Germany’s Nazi Party] of the Trump campaign,” he said. “If Trump loses, these people are going to become the Iraq insurgents. They’re going to go underground. They’re going to be furious and, over time, with the Trump campaign leading as the political wing of this insurgency. With a president in exile, those people will resort to armed violence, political standoffs, and terrorism.”
He said the reason why these threats aren’t taken seriously is because white people do not take white terrorism seriously. He brought up a post-election appearance on Bill Maher where he was a guest with an expert from George Washington University who said his analysis was over the top.
“She’s all, ‘Tone it down. Kumbaya,’ and I’m telling her what I’ve seen for the last six months, which is, the alt-right has transformed itself into the paramilitary arm of the Trump campaign,” he said. “Now that Trump has lost that election, they are going to be the Iraq insurgents. The Republican Party will view themselves as Sinn Fein and the Republican base will view themselves as the white Catholics who think they’ve got to support the IRA.”
Nance added: “Black evidence is never believed until a white person confirms it.”
Democrats introduced a resolution calling for an investigation into white supremacy earlier this month. This week, the NAACP, civil rights law firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll and Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss) are suing Trump, his lawyer Rudy Giuliani and two white nationalist groups over the coup. While these are promising steps, Democrats have few options to get to the heart of white terrorism because their Republican colleagues in Congress benefit from it politically. We have to view the GOP as enemy combatants because, for years, they have proven that Democrats are theirs.
As far as Keith is concerned, Democrats have to go hard. That means going as far as pressuring any Democrat who supports the filibuster into changing their mind or face a primary challenge. The days of compromise are dead. Obama should have taught us that much. The GOP went to war with him for eight years and Democrats, along with much of America, suffered.
“We don’t want to be as gangsta as they are,” Keith said of Democrats in Congress. “We still have this delusion of bipartisanship. There’s no fucking bipartisanship. Get off that ship. It does not work. It’s sinking. It’s done. It’s at the bottom of the ocean. It’s the fucking Titanic. It’s down in the water. Let it go.”
Update: 2/19/2012, 5:23 p.m. ET: A quote by Kyle Bibby was clarified to reflect that he meant that the insurrectionists would be bombed not the GOP.