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The Party of Cowards


Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) salutes Jan. 6 insurrectionists.

So, you want to join the Republican Party? Just leave your spine at the door. Republicans are the Party of Cowards. They are so afraid of offending their “fearless leader” that they deny the facts, refuse to take action and even go against the best interests of those who put them in their positions of power. With each passing day, they do more and more to reinforce this perception.


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Take the recent vote on the formation of a commission to investigate the January 6th insurrection. Despite numerous concessions made by the Democratic and Republican sponsors of the bill, a majority of Republicans refused to vote for it. And with Republicans in the Senate already voicing opposition, it’s likely dead on arrival when it comes up for a vote, effectively killing what was going to be a bipartisan commission.


The 35 Republicans who voted in favor of establishing a commission will no doubt face retribution, similar to that meted out to those who voted in favor of impeachment. Despite lacking a social media presence, Donald Trump can still issue “official statements”. He wasted no time, calling those who dared to cross him “ineffective and weak”, hinting there would be “consequences” when they each came up for re-election. Mind you, this was only to establish a commission; not to accuse anyone.


While arm-twisting to get your members to vote along party lines is the norm for both parties, Republicans have taken it to a new level. Fear, intimidation, threats, lies and even censure have been used to force those who disagree to fall in line. Those GOP politicians who are safe politically, as well as those who cowardly follow the those who echo Trump’s lies to satisfy his base, feel comfort in numbers -- despite overwhelming facts that disagree with their position.


This is nothing new. There is a history of this kind of behavior throughout the storied history of the Republican Party.


Waving the Bloody Shirt

Following the Civil War, Republicans sought to punish those who took part in the insurrection. They used the image of a bloody shirt to represent the lives lost during the war as a means of stifling opposition and bringing those in their own party in line. Waving the bloody shirt implied that those the comments were being directed towards were somehow responsible for those deaths. Anyone so accused risked fighting back at their own political peril.


In the modern context , waving the bloody shirt was used by conservative media to imply that a nation under Joe Biden’s leadership would be one of bloodshed and countless rioting. They used images of the Black Lives Matter movement to frighten and intimidate voters during the 2020 presidential election. They ignored the fact that these riots were taking place during the Trump administration, when “Law and Order” were supposed to be the way of things.


Conversely, Republicans have accused Democrats of waving the bloody shirt when they refer to the January 6th insurrection. They claim that Democrats are attempting to sow division by continuing to bring up the past. They fail to see the irony in their stance as Republicans continue to push the Big Lie and as yet another recount of the votes in Arizona seeks to overturn the results of the 2020 election.


McCarthy and the Red Scare

Before the current abomination, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) rose to prominence, there was another McCarthy who used fear and intimidation to keep his party faithful in line. Using the chairmanship of the heretofore relatively unknown House Un-American Activities Committee as a springboard, Wisconsin GOP Senator Joe McCarthy destroyed the lives of countless Americans by smearing them with the mere accusation that they may have some tenuous affiliation with a Communist entity. The Red Scare sought to root out the supposed “den of Communist sympathizers” who purportedly infested the American government, as well as the entertainment industry.


Republicans were only too happy to allow McCarthy’s attacks to continue when it was making these claims against the Democratic President Harry Truman. It was only when Republican President Dwight D.Eisenhower took office that McCarthy started to experience pushback. When McCarthy attacked members of the United States army intelligence, calling a highly decorated officer “a disgrace to his uniform”, the attorney representing Joseph N. Welch, fired back with the famous retort, “Have you no sense of decency?”.


That effectively ended the hearings. After four years in the limelight, McCarthy was censured for his remarks. Losing his influence, McCarthy’s health rapidly declined, and he died three years later.


The term “witch hunt” initially referred to the Salem Witch Trials in colonial Massachusetts. Its use of unsubstantiated accusations became synonymous with the actions of McCarthy and his henchman, Roy Cohn. It was later misappropriated by Donald Trump to refer to any of a number of investigations into alleged improprieties by the Trump administration. Roy Cohn, yes THAT Roy Cohn, was Trump’s original “fixer” and Trump became a student of many of Cohn’s underhanded political tactics.


Watergate

With the infamy afforded the Watergate scandal, it would be easy to assume that Richard Nixon was the most hated president in history. After all, anything with even a hint of political scandal has been tagged with the “Gate” suffix (Pizzagate, Obamagate).


So, it may come as a shock that, prior to the explosive revelations of the Watergate scandal, Nixon was immensely popular. In fact, he trounced the Democratic nominee, Hubert Humphrey, in the 1968 presidential election and totally crushed George McGovern in 1972, winning re-election by taking 49 out of 50 states; a heretofore unheard of margin.


Nixon ran on a “law and order” campaign with his “War on Drugs” becoming the centerpiece of his re-election bid. His policies, which were later embraced by Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan’s laughable “Just Say No” initiative, led to an explosion of minorities being jailed for relatively minor offenses and increasingly harsher punishment.


Nixon had a notoriously contentious relationship with the media, particularly those on the left. He labeled them “the enemy” long before Donald Trump and took every opportunity to belittle those who took an opposing view to moves made by his administration, including Vice President Spiro Agnew’s famously labeling them “nattering nabobs of negativism”.


So, it’s more than ironic that it was the media that ultimately led to Nixon’s downfall. In their book All the President’s Men intrepid Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein detailed how they painstakingly investigated the Watergate break-in and the surrounding corruption of the Nixon White House. It was this investigation, and subsequent revelations of obstruction of justice and abuse of power that led to Nixon’s resignation.


Until the existence of recordings of White House misdeeds was revealed, Republicans were all too willing to allow Nixon’s misdeeds to go unpunished. His use of “dirty tricks”, used to sabotage the campaigns of his Democratic opposition, earned him the nickname “Tricky Dick”. Even as a special prosecutor was appointed, Nixon’s popularity remained high with Republicans. It was only when these recordings were revealed, the so-called “smoking gun” of the Watergate scandal, that Republicans began to turn on Nixon. It was only when it became apparent that he would be impeached that Nixon made the decision to resign, marking the first time in America history that a president left office in disgrace.


January 6th, 2021

There are many memorable dates from the past 100 years that will go down in infamy. Among them are December 7th, 1941, September 11th, 2001, and now January 6th, 2021. While few are around who remember the attack on Pearl Harbor, all but the current generation have memories of September 11th etched in our brains. And there are few among us who do not recall the events of January 6th, unless you’re a Republican member of Congress. Their selective amnesia and attempts to rewrite or whitewash the events of that day spit in the face of reality.


Republicans are so afraid of losing their seats that they are willing to overlook a deliberate attempt to overthrow the government. They are willing to permit the continuance of the Big Lie while accusing Democrats of living in the past because they want an investigation into the events of January 6th. Instead of holding Donald Trump accountable, they would rather distract from the issues by demanding that investigations into Black Lives Matter be included in the formation of any commission, despite the fact BLM had zero to do with the insurrection.


They are nothing less than cowards, refusing to accept facts. Instead, they will continue to support lies and conspiracy theories.


As a result, they will embolden those, including Trump, to riot again. The voting audit in Arizona will give rise to demands for recounts in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. They will continue to ignore what is good for the country, instead opting to cater to the whims of a megalomaniac and his deplorable base.


Hopefully, these actions will backfire.


Lacking consensus, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca) may elect to form a Select Committee on the Insurrection, thereby eliminating Republican opposition and finally get the answers the nation deserves. The voters will also have their say in the 2022 midterms.


If they can see through the lies, separate fact from fiction, conspiracy theory from reality, courage from cowardice, the nation might finally be able to move forward once again.

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