Watching the depressing and alarming spectacle of 17 Republican states joining Texas’s bad faith, frivolous Supreme Court application to overturn the election in favor of Trump, I am reminded that in September 2015 I wrote a post titled “The Sad Truth of John Boehner’s Resignation” — which received 1,275 Recommends, 789 Comments and, as best I can recall, well over 50,000 shares from the Kos FaceBook page.
What was that “dark truth”?
What is important here is not that Republicans object to the limits of their power, but that Republicans apparently cannot accept that such limits even exist . . . .
It sounds crazy, I know, but this represents the true “dark side” of Boehner's resignation: it is another significant step in the Republican party's shocking withdrawal from our system of democratic governance.
Five years ago, the notion that Republicans were abandoning democracy was considered to be a somewhat important observation, something to be widely shared and discussed. Today? Well, let’s consider a few of the developments since this 2015 post:
- 1/2015 forward — Republican Senate engages in an unprecedented embargo on most all federal district and appellate court judges nominated by President Obama.
- 2016 — Multiple state and federal Republicans openly admit that “voter ID” and similar voter suppression laws are designed to hurt Democrats and allow specific Republican candidates to win.
- 3/16/2016 — Republicans block President Obama’s power to appoint Merrick Garland or any Supreme Court nominee.
- 9-10/2016 — Multiple Republican Senators declare that they will not confirm any Supreme Court Justice if Hillary Clinton wins the presidential election.
- 9/2016 — Republican Mitch McConnell blocks any bipartisan effort to disclose and condemn Russian interference in the 2016 election.
- 4/6/2017 — Republicans eliminate the Supreme Court filibuster to appoint Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
- 12/2018 — After Wisconsin voters chose to replace its Republican governor with a Democratic governor, Republican state legislators meet in a lame-duck session to strip existing powers from the Democratic governor and state attorney general and to limit early voting procedures in an effort to reduce Democratic voting.
- 12/21/2018 – 1/25/2019 — Trump forces the longest ever government shut down because Congress, on a bipartisan basis, refused to fund his pet wall project on the Southern Border.
- 2/15/2019 — After Congress refused to fund Trump’s wall, and an unsuccessful, extended government shutdown waged by Trump, Trump declares a “national emergency” and pilfers funds from the military budget to pay for his pet wall project.
- 3/14/2019 — Trump threatens violence from his supporters against Democratic voters who do not support him.
- 5/30/2019 — Computer hard drives of a deceased Republican operative turned over by his daughter reveal national Republicans’ efforts to use Census data to suppress minority and Democratic voting power and representation.
- 9/11/2019 — N.C. Republican state legislators tell their Democratic counterparts that the state legislature will not be in session on the 9/11 anniversary(!), and then secretly meet in a half-empty chamber to override the Democratic governor’s budget veto.
- 1/31/2020 — Republican Senators vote to block hearing any witnesses or evidence in the impeachment trial of Pres. Trump.
- 5/1/2020 — Trump tweets support for hundreds of gun-toting militia types who invade the Michigan State House to protest Covid response measures.
- 7/21/2020 — Contrary to the unbroken hundreds of years of constitutional interpretation and practice, the Trump administration announces that it will not count undocumented immigrants in the decennial census in an effort to reduce the number of House seats for Democratic states and to eliminate millions of federal payments to such states based on population.
- 10/5/2020 — In the teeth of a historic pandemic threatening death and injury to millions, the Trump campaign and compliant Republican state legislators embarked on an astonishing campaign to make voting more dangerous and difficult. A concise overview is provided by Mother Jones in “29 Ways Trump and the GOP Are Making It Harder To Vote.”
- 10/18/2020 — Days after the FBI foiled a plot by militia men to kidnap and publicly execute on TV Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer over Covid safety orders, Trump incites and encourages a Michigan crowd to further violence against her.
- 10/26/2020 — Republicans confirm Amy Coney Barret to the Supreme Court — one week before a presidential election, despite blocking Garland or any nominee by a Democratic president to fill a seat that opened nine months before an election.
- 11/3/2020 — How could the 2020 election be summarized in a bullet point? Pres. Trump refused to agree to a peaceful transfer of power. Trump has sued unsuccessfully (over and over) to overturn the election he lost. Trump has publicly lied about the election, sought to subvert state election procedures, threatened retribution against other Republicans, and incited violence. And — this is crucial — he has done so largely with the complicity of the Republican party generally.
- 12/5/2020 — A month after Joe Biden won the presidential election (by more than 7 million votes), only 27 out of 249 Republican Senators and House members would publicly admit that Biden won the election.
- 12/8/2020 — The Arizona GOP Party sends out a Tweet asking if its voters are “willing to give [their] life for” Trump’s efforts to overturn the election.
- 12/9/2020 — The Republican majority leader of the Pennsylvania Senate said she would have signed a Trump letter declaring fraud in the 2020 election because “If I would say to you, ‘I don’t want to do it,’ I’d get my house bombed tonight.”
- 12/10/2019 — The Trump administration continues to obstruct the transition to the Biden administration.
Folks — this is insane and an open, ongoing assault on the fundamental tenets of this country unseen since the run up to the Civil War.
Admittedly, defeating this Republican problem is hard and complex, and viable solutions will take discussions longer than this one post. But let me propose we rediscover an essential concept — Scandal.
The first, necessary step back requires that our country, our politics, and our media rediscover how to label, report and resist scandalous behavior. Remember Watergate? Whitewater? Benghazi? None of them compares to this threat to democracy (yes, even Watergate).
That means reporting this for what it is, and not having any co-conspirators on for polite interviews. It means having a panel of historians and civic leaders on regularly to discuss the scandal (not a D-list of political hacks). It means consistent front page reporting. It means not reporting this as “horse race” politics. And it means that Democratic leadership has to be fighting against this — openly and all the time. It means that a basic first step requires that we all begin to treat this as the five alarm fire scandal that it is.
I once called all this a “dark truth.” Five years later, sadly, it is an open, proud and largely unchallenged truth. We can’t let this continue.