It is no wonder that Republicans cannot summon the nerve to throw out conspiracy theorist and anti-Semite Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), even after her remarks endorsing political violence were unearthed. After all, they might have to do something about a whole batch of their members.
When the Republican Jewish Coalition insists that Greene is outside the “mainstream” of the party, one has to question what party the group has been enabling. Sadly, it is Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) and the nine other Republicans who voted for impeachment who find themselves outside the “mainstream” of a party that has gone off the deep end.
An overwhelming number of Republican House members participated in the efforts to overturn democracy. Many representatives refused to wear masks at the cost of infecting colleagues. The GOP is also refusing to hold the former president accountable for unleashing violence on their staff and colleagues. The party has not condemned nor disassociated itself from extremist groups such as the Proud Boys. “Mainstream” party voters do not think white supremacists are responsible for the violence we all witnessed on Jan. 6, according to polling.
When Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) announced that he would not seek reelection, some on the right bemoaned the loss of a sensible Republican whose departure only cedes ground to the crazies. Sorry, but Portman did little to restrain the more extreme elements of his party. He voted to acquit Trump in the first impeachment, and he now supports the notion that the second impeachment is unconstitutional. When the House GOP caucus is in the hands of McCarthy, and when Senate Republicans overwhelmingly back the motion by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) — who still refuses to wear a mask — to toss out impeachment, it is evident the conspiracy theorists are firmly in command.
The Republican Accountability Project is running a billboard campaign urging certain Republicans — Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Ted Cruz (Tex.) and Rep. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), among others — to resign. Two directors of the project, Elizabeth Neumann and Olivia Troye, wrote in USA Today, “Republicans leaders are suddenly preaching the importance of unity and healing. The first step toward recovery is repentance and accepting responsibility for their role. There can be no unity without truth and accountability.” Neumann and Troye promised to support the 10 House Republicans who refused to overturn the election. But the problem is that the party as a whole, and its base, do not believe in holding anyone accountable, nor in ending their party’s relationship with unhinged white supremacists.
“Republicans have to decide what side they are on,” Neumann and Troye wrote. The problem is that they already have.
Let me suggest the real problem is the 211 Republican members in the House who voted not to impeach Trump, the 45 who signed on to Paul’s resolution in the Senate and the supermajority of the base that prefer rule of an authoritarian wannabe to democracy. The base demands this lunacy and the spineless politicians who dish it out.
I offer three suggestions. First, Democrats need to make the Trump-hugging McCarthy and the loony Greene the faces of the Republican Party. That’s not even a stretch; they are the essence of the MAGA party. If that is what voters in swing or even Republican-leaning states want, they should have no doubts about what they are supporting. Second, a nationwide voter registration effort may help organic movements we have seen in Arizona, for example, where some 10,000 Republicans changed parties. Third, Democrats should keep in mind how Stacey Abrams flipped a red state: Painstaking organizing work. They need to duplicate that effort in states such as North Carolina and Ohio (which will have open Senate seats in 2022). They need more Democratic voters to get more Democrats in Congress.
There is no unity with anti-democratic conspiracy-mongers and those who welcome white nationalists into their fold. Forget unity. Save democracy. Then we can talk about unity.
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