It’s Party of Extremists Now

Terry H. Schwadron

Feb. 4, 2021

It almost didn’t matter what House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had decided to do about his divisive Marjorie Taylor Greene problem.

It’s too late. The Republicans own her and her extremism now, and won’t be able to walk away from an association in the minds of voters with accepting QAnon conspiracy and White supremacy advocates in their midst.

Nor can they walk away from efforts to dethrone super-conservative Rep. Liz Cheney in a House leadership position because she committed the ultimate no-no in voting to impeach Donald Trump for doing what he had taken pride in doing — provoking his base over months in what culminated in riot at the U.S. Capitol.

While Republicans can do what they want with their party, it’s American values that are being put on the debate scale here, and we’re seeing another adoption of violence and untruths over anything close to civility.

In the end, McCarthy, under pressure from all but his own caucus to discipline Greene and to retain Rep. Liz Cheney in a leadership position, whiffed, failing to satisfy anyone. As a result, House Democrats moved to intervene towards a rare vote today to strip Republican Greene’s committee memberships — a vote that will put every Republican on the record on the question and will undoubtably turn into another partisan floor fight.

Meanwhile, the Republican caucus spent hours debating about whether to oust Cheney as head of their caucus before finding out that she had the votes to keep her job.

For the GOP, which has labored overtime to tag the likes of Joe Biden and centrist Democrats with what they see as overly eager left-leaning policies, including the aspirational Green New Deal of Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilan Omar, now trying to distance themselves from their right-leaning loonies has become impossible.

That is especially true because Republicans in Congress still fall all over themselves to kiss the would-be regal ring of Donald Trump. If they wanted separation from Greene’s dangerous threats against government figures, denials of mass shootings and wrong-headed beliefs in Jewish space lasers, they had plenty of chance to do so.

Now that something serious was broken in the Jan. 6 insurrection, the GOP owns it.

So, let’s get it straight please, the problem at hand is not Ms. Greene — it is a wider problem of Republican blinders to fact for partisanship. Let’s be sure to mark Republicans as the party for conspiracy and against conscience.

Trump Over All

The party antipathy we’re hearing even in very politically red Wyoming to oust Cheney for her impeachment vote — arguing that Trump had “lit the flame” that sparked the riots — has nothing to do with what Trump said or did. It reflects only that Republican voters have been boiled repeatedly in a broth of propaganda that Trump actually won the election, choosing to attack anyone finding fault with Trump rather than Trump himself.

To this day, despite the hours of video evidence, the lost court challenges, the proved abuses and the reported plotting of anti-democratic efforts to change the vote outcome, the Republican party in Wyoming, in Arizona, in Texas and lots of other states simply deny that any of it happened.

“We Republicans need to stick together,” said a Republican voter in an anti-Cheney crowd, adding, “They’re coming after our guns. They’re trying to tell us what to do, so we can’t have people who are not with us.”

They were mask-less, because this government is trying to tell them about communicable disease, which many in the party apparently still think is a hoax, as if we have not had 430,000 American deaths.

So, instead of working to resolve public crises over coronavirus and jobs, over a future for health care, education and environment, towards re-securing American standing lost in the isolation policies of the Trump years, we’re adrift in a constant sea of whether requiring members of Congress to leave any guns off the floor somehow abridges the rights. The vote on that House rule on Tuesday was nearly 100 percent partisan, with Republicans opposing the safety of colleagues.

How in good conscience, were these Republican Congress members attending that memorial in the Capitol for Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick who was killed by Trump-clad insurrectionists that day? How in good conscience did Republican senators repeat an oath to act as independent jurors in the pending impeachment trial when they already have decided that Trump should go free?

Looking to Leadership

For weeks, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell let Cheney hang in the wind and let Greene’s conspiracy run on endlessly before calling her a “cancer” on the party and the country. We know that as a wily political insider, McConnell has something else on his mind — moving the party into a post-Trump position. He was maneuvering — once again — to position his caucus into mode to oppose Biden policies and prepare for the next elections.

McCarthy himself has been more openly torn between his desire for the votes of conspirators while trying to stay relevant. He privately prodded Greene to apologize for her comments and remove herself from her committees to avert the House vote Democrats to force the issue.

Were he not to represent such a Republican district, he might find himself out.

As Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent argued, both the Greene and Cheney “dilemmas are fundamentally about whether Republicans will unambiguously stand for the proposition that the temptation to resort to political violence is wholly intolerable in a democracy and has no place whatsoever in their party.”

In homage to Donald Trump, Republicans did not take the pledge and they won’t. Not for Greene, not for Cheney, not for the impeachment trial itself.

As voters, we know what we need to do.

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