December 11, 2020 | Reading Time: 4 minutes
The Republicans choose insurgency
It's time the Democrats treat them as they are.
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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.
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 is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition. Find him @johnastoehr.