December 11, 2020 | Reading Time: 4 minutes

The Republicans choose insurgency

It's time the Democrats treat them as they are.

Share this article

Editor’s noteThe Editorial Board is open to all during the pandemic. That’s the right thing to do for a daily newsletter dedicated to serving and protecting the common good. Please, if you have not done so, show your support by subscribing yearly ($60) or monthly ($6, $72 total). You can also give a gift subscription to someone whose politics you don’t like! Thanks! —JS

What’s it going to take for the Democrats in the US Congress to see the danger? How often must the Republicans spurn, violate or profane the core values going into being an American for the Democrats to call them out? When will they stop taking it in the face and give it in kind? This isn’t a matter of pride. This is a matter of cold-blooded partisanship. The Democrats keep looking at the Republicans as if any minute they’re going to snap out of it. They must start treating the GOP as an insurgency.

The closest any Democrat, not to say leading Democrat, has gotten to naming correctly the Republican Party’s near-wholesale defiance of the people’s sovereignty comes from Pennsylvania’s attorney general. In a brief sent to the US Supreme Court, Josh Shapiro said, “Texas’s effort to get this court to pick the next president has no basis in law or fact. … (It) should not abide this seditious abuse of the judicial process, and should send a clear and unmistakable signal that such abuse must never be replicated” (italics mine).

Yes, the Republicans are performing partisanship. But that performance has led them to the edge of treason.

Shapiro is talking about a lawsuit filed this week by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton alleging that millions of votes in four swing states were cast illegally and unconstitutionally on account of mail-in provisions made during the covid pandemic. The suit asks the high court to invalidate all of those votes, thus handing Donald Trump reelection. The suit won the support of attorneys general from 17 Republican-controlled states. Yesterday, it got the backing of 106 members of the Republican House conference, a majority. Shapiro, a Democrat, is joined by 20 states, including GOP-run Georgia, in asking the high court to dismiss the case with prejudice, because all of it—and I mean all of it—is predicated on a towering mountain of fantastic lies.

Naturally, the press corps’ is focused on the chances of the case being heard. They’re slim. All nine justices have rejected a similar earlier case brought by Pennsylvania Republicans. Paxton’s lawsuit is a last-ditch effort by the losing candidate and his allies to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. It is a coup d’etat destined to fail, though Trump appointed three of the court’s justices. That’s why the Democrats aren’t worried. The Republicans are merely demonstrating loyalty, they think. This is just another round of performative partisanship. They trust the Republicans will get back to business after Inauguration Day. And that’s where they make their first mistake.

Here’s the tip jar!

Remember that America is a covenant. It’s a moral agreement made collectively as a political community, a social contract based on shared values and shared purpose. There’s lots of room for disagreement, but one thing’s permanent. The people’s sovereignty is supreme. If you agree to that, you’re welcome to participate. Put quite another way, you can’t disagree—not if you want to be considered an American.

That the Republican coup is going to fail is beside the point. The point is that 18 state leaders and 106 US representatives have issued a declaration, one that should carry as much moral and political weight as their oaths of office. They no longer agree with the superlative principle constituting the foundation of our republic. They have declared where they stand, and where they stand is against America. Yes, the Republicans are performing partisanship. But that performance has led them to the edge of treason.

Remember, too, that these Republican leaders come from states currently being savaged by the covid. They did not take seriously the spread of the new coronavirus, because taking it seriously would have enraged the GOP president. Cumulatively, more than 3,000 Americans died Wednesday. More than 3,000 died Thursday. More than 3,000 will die today. According to USA Today, more Americans have now died from the covid than all who died fighting in World War II! Moreover, more than 3,000 people are expected to die each day for the next 60 to 90 days, even if a vaccine is available. And yet the Republicans continue to do little or nothing about it.

Two things are true at the same time. The Republicans stand against America. The Republicans are sacrificing themselves to stand against America. Together, these facts should illustrate the reality we are facing, a reality that the Democrats won’t call by name. The Republican Party is now an insurgency, one that has many heavily armed domestic terrorists prepared to act at the slightest word from the president. If the party does not get what it wants, it stands ready to blow up itself and the rest of us.

The Democrats, meanwhile, act as if eventually they can negotiate with these “suicide bombers.” They can’t. Indeed, they mustn’t. Compromise begets more of the same. They don’t want to force the Republicans to choose a side. This isn’t, the Democrats say, about “us versus them.” The problem is the Republicans have already chosen.

—John Stoehr

John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition. Find him @johnastoehr.


  1. Jim Prevatt on July 30, 2021 at 11:26 pm

    These republicans who agree with the criminal Texax AG have committed treason. Thanks, for saying it so clearly and well.

  2. Rob Benjamin on July 30, 2021 at 11:26 pm

    18 U.S.C. § 2384 – U.S. Code – Unannotated Title 18. Crimes and Criminal Procedure § 2384. Seditious conspiracy ( defines seditious conspiracy by two or more people. To prove it, the parties must actually be plotting violent acts against the Government of the United States. This is pretty tough to prove.

    But what’s NOT hard to prove, in fact is obvious to anyone functioning critical thinking faculties, is that the Republican National Committee, Donald Trump himself, and many of Trump’s most vocal supporters have been openly encouraging others to commit sedition and organize seditious conspiracies. When you commit the political equivalent of shouting fire in a crowded theater, knowing your words will incite others to commit crimes, you may not be technically guilty of their crimes, but you are clearly the injector of the poison in their minds. You are their inspiration and their prophet.

    Whether we call them dog whistles or stochastic terrorism, these indirect incitements to an audience primed for violence are not technically crimes. Instead, they are intentional precursors to crimes. The US Criminal Code does not include any criteria for charging stochastic terrorists with crimes, and there are no criminal penalites that apply to them.

    But this is a hole in our legal codes that needs to be plugged up.

  3. Terry on July 30, 2021 at 11:26 pm

    100% agree with this, all of it. Democrats are making a deep strategic mistake by not making it clear that 99% of Republicans are betraying our democracy, and making them pay politically for it. They are normalizing the neo-confederates treason by ignoring it.

  4. Ed Kako on July 30, 2021 at 11:26 pm

    Clearly Ddemocrats *must* start naming the existential threat we face — and stop worrying about the political consequences. The consequences will be far worse if they do nothing.

    But what’s the ultimate solution? Brian Klaas has an excellent piece in today’s WaPo about our “authoritarian voter problem.” If a large share of the population — say, 40% — has decided they’d rather live under a personality cult dictatorship, what do we do? It’s a personality type as much as anything else.

    Republicans have been activating this personality type for decades. Saying as much is vital. But you can’t talk people out of their personalities.

    Truly, I’m at a loss about how we move forward.

    • Thornton Prayer on July 30, 2021 at 11:26 pm

      I understand your concerns, but I don’t share them. The moment we worry about how crazed the authoritarian minded are and what they may do is the first step on the road to defeat. Expecting and hoping the Democratic party’s political class will eventually step up is the second step on the road to destruction.

      Let’s spend our efforts and energy declaring ourselves as the defenders of democracy and guardians of the Republic. If you have a platform no matter how small – here, on social media, with friends or family, etc. – use it relentlessly to claim the morality of our cause and call out the depravity of their evil. Even if what I’m suggesting seems minor and insignificant, it’s not. If you can trust in yourself, then you can trust in America. You can make a far bigger impact than you may currently realize.

  5. RUArmyNavyMominTX on July 30, 2021 at 11:26 pm

    Why are Democrats so perennially concerned with consequences while never making Republicans suffer them? TX AG’s lawsuit is a textbook definition of sedition; Dems need to demonstrate courage or they’ll forever be bullied and will deserve it.

    • hw on July 30, 2021 at 11:26 pm

      Agreed…Democratic leadership (a combination of appeasement and self-delusion) has led to unimaginable weakness and monumental losses in the 2020 election. Pelosi believes that a stimulus package will cover the abyss of her leadership. As ever, her endless political malpractice will result in loss after loss. Without new leadership, irrespective of the gleeful sedition and sadism of the GOP, the Democrats will lose the House in 2022. I can only imagine what the rest of the world thinks as they see the GOP lighting dynamite while Democratic leadership holds self-congratulatory calls about retaining the House majority.

  6. Thornton Prayer on July 30, 2021 at 11:26 pm

    The Democrats, especially those in Congress, are institutionalists. I believe they regard their Republican counterparts as the same. THIS IS A MISTAKE.

    The Republicans aren’t merely insurgents, but are traitors and should be dealt with and called out as such. The want to burn down our political institutions and the Republic Josh Shapiro’s use of the word “seditious” in the state of PA’s brief is on point and needs to be used explicitly going forward.

    A primary reason why COVID is running wild in GOP led states is because the bulk of the people getting it are relatively poor and/or people of color: blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans. Is it really a surprise that GOP’ers don’t care if “those people” are dying? That they are gleefully willing to engage in a slow motion genocide is yet another example of their sedition.

    As far as I’m concerned, Ken Paxton, his supporters in Congress, and the GOP AG’s supporting his ridiculous “lawsuit” are all the equivalent of the politicians in the Southern states seceding after Lincoln’s election in 1860. If they can’t monopolize political power, they’d rather destroy democracy and the country.

    Let’s not rely on the Democratic leadership to come to its senses. Let us instead claim the mantle of freedom for all and call ourselves the true guardians of America and of democracy. And never forget – GOP DELENDA EST.

  7. Bern on July 30, 2021 at 11:26 pm

    John wrote:
    “Paxton’s lawsuit is a last-ditch effort by the losing candidate and his allies to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.”

    Except we’r talking about the Walmart of ditches! Ditches R Us!

    There is NO DITCH TOO FAR.

Leave a Comment

Want to comment on this post?
Click here to upgrade to a premium membership.