The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Here’s the difference between the Democrats and the Republicans

Lawmakers and members of the media reacted to the allegations against New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) on March 7. (Video: Allie Caren/The Washington Post)

While it is possible that New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) will ride out the burgeoning scandal involving multiple complaints of sexual harassment and concealment of nursing home deaths due to covid-19, Democrats are trying their level best to dump him. More than a dozen members of his state’s Democratic delegation, including Reps. Jerrold Nadler and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, demanded Friday morning that Cuomo leave office. By the end of the day, New York’s two U.S. senators, Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, had also called on Cuomo to step down. This echoed similar calls from Democratic state legislative leaders.

This is what a responsible party does. Its members assess the magnitude of credible evidence of wrongdoing, the severity of the alleged conduct, and the moral and political cost of defending a scoundrel, and then put decency and good governance ahead of tribal loyalty. This is not a weakness; it affords them moral authority and reaffirms the trust that voters place in elected officials.

The Republicans time and again have shown that they would never do such a thing. They exonerated disgraced former president Donald Trump twice despite replete evidence of impeachable conduct. They did not demand he leave the race in 2016 after the “Access Hollywood” tape surfaced; they supported him again in 2020 despite learning he had made payoffs to women with whom he allegedly had extramarital affairs and was accused of rape by E. Jean Carroll (Trump denies Carroll’s allegation). The same Republicans who dinged Neera Tanden, President Biden’s withdrawn nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget, for spicy tweets excused four years of vile, racist, misogynistic language from the head of the party. And, despite his role in sparking a violent insurrection, Republicans still support him as the leader of their party.

And it is not just the former president who gets a pass. Not a single Senate Republican has called for discipline against Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) or Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) for pushing the Big Lie about a stolen election and seeking to overturn an election. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is not disciplined despite spreading Russian propaganda and the lie that insurrectionists at the Capitol were infiltrated by antifa. And don’t expect any Republican to demand Johnson’s resignation after his latest outrageous comments in a radio interview, as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:

“I knew those were people who love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law, so I wasn’t concerned,” Johnson said about the predominantly white crowd that marched to the U.S. Capitol to overturn a presidential election and triggered an assault that left five people dead, 140 police officers injured and windows smashed.
“Now, had the tables been turned, and Joe — this is going to get me in trouble — had the tables been turned and President Trump won the election and tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and antifa, I might have been a little concerned.”

The irony is that the GOP used to fancy itself as the party of personal responsibility and public rectitude. Now it is a party of professional victims, wallowing in the myth of anti-White racism, incensed when presented with the concept of implicit bias and ready to smear women of color nominated for key posts for the same conduct that Republicans tolerated from White men. (Perplexed that police groups could support a progressive woman of color such as Vanita Gupta, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas actually accused her defenders last week of coercing police organizations into giving enthusiastic endorsements, an allegation entirely without support, fiercely denounced by police groups and revealing of his own biases about police and civil rights leaders.)

It is not hard to see why the difference between the parties regarding their willingness to police their own has become so stark. Democrats embrace and rely upon multi-racial democracy, so they feel compelled to defend it. They think government can be a force for good; they therefore have an interest in throwing out the crooks, the louts and the serial liars.

Republicans have embraced voter suppression and White grievance-mongering, so they excuse — or even defend — racist or misogynistic outbursts. They have to convince White males that they are the true victims, so apologizing to the victims of their prejudice is out of the question. And governance? If see your job as performance art for right-wing media, you do not mind having clueless, lazy and dishonest people in charge of government.

Leave your state during a blackout and lie about your vacation plans? Sure, own the libs! Defend White supremacists who look like you but not peaceful Black protesters? Infuriate the media elites!

Sadly, we have only one major party that is fit to govern in a constitutional, multi-racial democracy that demands accountability and self-control from elected officials. The other party has deteriorated into a group of apologists for sexual violence, racism, insurrection and habitual lying. Worse, tens of millions of Americans are all too happy to go along with the latter because, well, own the libs!

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