Republicans Engage in “Legitimate Political Discourse”
There was a time when our two major political parties took policy matters seriously. I remember my first political convention, the Democratic meeting in Miami in 1972 which nominated George McGovern to face, and be pummeled by, the incumbent Richard Nixon. One of the things that impressed a then young reporter was the work of the platform committee.
The committee met and considered the issues of the day. They heard presentations, took testimony, and in the end voted on a position to take. At first, I wondered how valuable the exercise was. While the platform represented a compromise position so the party could say what it stood for, it could not bind all its members. And with opposition when it came time to govern, there is no way to expect the positions of the platform committee to translate directly into policy.
But it was still impressive. The participants took the exercise very seriously. And in those days the primary television networks devoted a considerable amount of airtime to the platform committee’s work. And the viewing public, including eligible voters, received a great civics lesson, if they devoted time and thought to it.
That was then. What about now, fifty years later? In 2020 Democrats produced a party platform with both a downloadable report and a web site, “Democrats: Where We Stand”. The primary television networks gave it virtually no airtime. In fact, the primary television networks gave the political conventions themselves virtually no airtime, relegating the political process to the cable channels. The broadcast networks, enjoying free use of the valuable radio spectrum considered the property of the people, used that spectrum to run their usual schedule of reality and fantasy designed to make them the greatest amount of money.
The broadcast network executives urged people interested in politics to tune into their cable channels. But the cable channels were much more interested in treating viewers to punditry from people fresh out of school who rarely knew what they were talking about than actually showing us the serious work of the 2020 Democratic Party Platform Committee. If you were interested in that your best source was CSPAN. If you can find it.
What, you ask, about the Republicans? In 1972 the Republicans actually had a platform. In 2020? Not so much. In 2020 the Republican National Committee decided not to have a platform committee. Or a platform, instead passing a resolution saying:
WHEREAS, The RNC, had the Platform Committee been able to convene in 2020, would have undoubtedly unanimously agreed to reassert the Party’s strong support for President Donald Trump and his Administration.https://wvgop.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Resolution_Platform_2020.pdf
With that, the Republicans republished and repeated their 2016 platform. It really didn’t matter. For Donald Trump’s platform was simple; retain power at all costs and wield that power for his own personal benefit.
The Trump Platform
To that end we now know that Trump contemplated several illegal actions to overrule the will of the voters in the 2020 election. That’s in addition to the fiery speeches he and his henchmen gave to rile up the mob on January 6th. Actions which included the misuse of the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the national guard and possibly the regular United States military. Plus, attempts to extort Republican state election officials to get them to change the vote tallies. But those plans, plotted with the assistance of several members of the Congress and including a riotous insurrection and invasion of the nation’s Capital, failed due to the refusal of many government officials to go along with the insurrectionists.
So, Trump impeded the orderly transition of government and then stole out of town, illegally destroying some evidence and taking other documents to his home at Mar-a-Lago in violation of the Presidential Records Act. Some of those documents appear to have been classified, including some marked “top secret.” People have gone to jail for that crime. Trump also apparently censored the White House phone record for January 6th to hide who he talked to that day. Just last week Trump announced he would, if reelected in 2024, pardon people who participated in the January 6th insurrection. He apparently contemplated issuing a blanket pardon before he left office.
Republicans Take a Position
This extensive list of developments led the official Republican-Trump party to take a policy stand after all. Not in opposing the violent attempt to overthrow the government of the United States, but in condemning two brave Republican members of the House of Representatives who agreed to serve on a committee investigating the violence of January 6, 2021.
On this the Republican National Committee speaks clearly:
WHEREAS, Representatives Cheney and Kinzinger purport to be members of the Republican
WHEREAS, Representatives Cheney and Kinzinger are participating in a Democrat-led
persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse, and they are both
utilizing their past professed political affiliation to mask Democrat abuse of prosecutorial power
for partisan purposes, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the Republican National Committee hereby formally censures RepresentativesRepublican National Committee Resolution
Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and shall immediately cease any and all
support of them as members of the Republican Party for their behavior which has been
destructive to the institution of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Republican Party and our
republic, and is inconsistent with the position of the Conference.
It could not be any clearer. The January 6, 2021, insurrection is now, in the official eyes of the Republican Party, “legitimate political discourse.” And I am thoroughly disgusted.
The picture at the top of this article has been submitted into evidence by the FBI, which says it shows Peter Francis Stager of Conway, Arkansas engaging a Washington, D.C. police officer identified as “B.M.” in what Republicans say was “legitimate political discourse” by beating him over the head with a metal flagpole.
This front page in the conservative Wall Street Journal describes the Republican’s legitimate political discourse on January 6, 2021.
Officer Daniel Hodges of the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department is crushed in a doorway to the Capitol by Trump supporting Republican discoursers during the legitimate political discourse on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington.
Congressional security personnel discoursing with Trump supporters trying to legitimately enter the House of Representatives.
Trump supporting Republican legitimate political discourser carries symbol of his party through the halls of Congress.
Legitimate Trump supporting Republican discoursers peaceably assembling and petitioning the Government for a redress of grievances.
A Few Good Men (Maybe)
There have always been a few Republicans who disagreed with the party’s felty to Donald Trump. Utah Senator Mitt Romney for one. He’s Trump’s favorite RINO, as in Republican in Name Only. The mercurial Senator Linsday Graham from South Carolina called Trump’s pardon remarks, “inappropriate.” And we finally heard from Mike Pence, the former Vice President who Trump has been using as a piñata since he refused to try to invalidate the result of the 2020 election. Pence went before the right-wing Federalist Society to say Trump is wrong and the Electoral Count Act does not “allow the Vice President to change the results of the election.”
And then there is Mitch McConnell, the stone-faced turtle-God. He kept his mouth shut for the better part of one year. But this week the Senate Minority Leader, Republican of Kentucky, found a pair and described the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol as a violent insurrection:
“We saw it happen. It was a violent insurrection for the purpose of trying to prevent the peaceful transfer of power after a legitimately certified election, from one administration to the next. That’s what it was,”https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/mitch-mcconnell-is-done-trump-allies-blast-senator-after-jan-6-remarks/ar-AATHucZ?ocid=uxbndlbing
Yes, it was.
The Miracle of America
The peaceful transfer of power after a legitimately certified election was and is the miracle of America. It shocked the world when John Adams, having lost a bitter battle with Thomas Jefferson in 1800 left the army in its barracks, left the keys to the White House under the mat, and left town to make way for the new president. It was not the way the rest of the world was used to doing these things. A defeated president trying to hang on to office is something that had never happened in history of the United States of America. Until 2021 and Donald Trump.
I don’t know about you, but I have little confidence in McConnell and none in the jackals who control the Trump-Republican Party. It is up to us to protect democracy in America. If we are not up to the task, our little experiment in rule by the people will come to an end.