It depresses me to acknowledge this, but the Republicans’ commitment to blatant and serial lying, and Orwellian “make believe” governing, pose a real threat by overwhelming the public debate and individual’s efforts to stay grounded. While a bit well-worn (and of uncertain provenance), this quote is fundamentally true: “A lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on.”
In practical terms, it just can be hard to remember all of the Republicans’ lies and dysfunction (before, during and (regrettably) after Trump). How do you keep track?
But, as we nobly fight against this Republican scourge, a bullet point timeline can greatly help. Yes, the below list is very long — but that is the whole point and the challenge. And, trust me, you will be hit with feelings of “Oh yeah . . . wtf?” And so much is left out of this list, such as the January 6 insurgency and Trump’s mishandling of Covid. Again, that is part of the point — even this “bullet point” list of Republican lies and dysfunction is partial:
- Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Fox News host Tucker Carlson are vaguely suggesting that Anthony S. Fauci is to blame for creation of the coronavirus, based on a convoluted stew of half-truths and speculation about international virology research and the hypothesis that the virus originated in a lab in China. Carlson has been telling his viewers that covid vaccines have been killing people by the thousands. He’s the highest-rated host on cable news.
- Republican members of Congress are trying to recast the Jan. 6 insurrection as a gentle stroll through the Capitol by people who may or may not have been Trump supporters. Meanwhile, the purging of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) shows that the lie that Trump won the 2020 election has become the central organizing principle of the GOP.
- The very act of fact-checking work is so offensive to Republicans that a group of GOP state legislators in Michigan have filed a bill called the “Fact Checker Registration Act.” It would require fact-checkers to register with the state and acquire a million-dollar insurance policy, and fine them if their fact-checks are displeasing to the government.
In December 2020, a smart writer noted the following:
- Jan. 2015-Jan. 2017: The Republican Senate engages in an unprecedented embargo on most all federal district and appellate court judges nominated by President Barack Obama.
- 2016: Multiple state and federal Republicans openly admit that voter ID requirements, and similar voter suppression laws, are designed to hurt Democrats and allow specific Republican candidates to win.
- March 2016: After the death of Antonin Scalia, Republicans block President Obama’s power to appoint Merrick Garland, or any Supreme Court nominee.
- September-October 2016: Multiple Republican senators declare that they will not confirm any Supreme Court Justice if Hillary Clinton wins the presidential election.
- September 2016: Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocks any bipartisan effort to disclose and condemn Russian interference in the 2016 election.
- April 2017: Republicans eliminate the Supreme Court filibuster to appoint Neil Gorsuchto the Supreme Court.
- December 2018: After Wisconsin voters chose to replace its Republican governor with a Democratic one, 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.
- Dec. 21, 2018–Jan. 25, 2019: Trump forces the longest-ever government shutdownbecause Congress—on a bipartisan basis—refused to fund his pet wall project on the southern border.
- Feb. 15, 2019: After Congress refused to fund Trump’s wall, and his subsequent and unsuccessful extended government shutdown, Trump declares a national emergency and pilfers funds from the military budget to pay for his pet wall project anyway.
- March 14, 2019: Trump threatens violence from his supporters against Democratic voters who do not support him.
- May 30, 2019: Computer hard drives belonging to a deceased Republican operative are turned over by his daughter. They reveal national Republicans’ efforts to use census data to suppress minority and Democratic voting power and representation.
- Sept. 11, 2019: North Carolina’s Republican state legislators tell their Democratic counterparts that the state legislature will not be in session on the 9/11 anniversary, but then secretly meet in a half-empty chamber to override the Democratic governor’s budget veto.
- Jan. 31, 2020: Republican senators vote to block hearing any witnesses or evidence in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump.
- May 1, 2020: Trump tweets support for hundreds of gun-toting militia types who invade the Michigan State House in protest of COVID-19 response measures.
- July 21, 2020: Contrary to hundreds of years of constitutional interpretation and practice, the Trump administration announces that it will not count undocumented immigrants in the decennial census; it’s 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.
- Oct. 5, 2020: In the teeth of a historic pandemic threatening death and injury to millions, the Trump campaign and compliant Republican state legislators embark 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.”
- Oct. 18, 2020: Days after the FBI foiled a plot by militia men to kidnap and publicly execute Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer over COVID-19 safety orders, Trump incites and encourages a Michigan crowd to engage in further violence against her.
- Oct. 26, 2020: Republicans confirm Amy Coney Barrett 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 the 2016 election.
- Nov. 3, 2020: How could the 2020 election ever be summarized in a bullet point? Trump refuses to agree to a peaceful transfer of power. Trump sues unsuccessfully (over and over) to overturn the election he lost. Trump publicly lies about the election, seeks to subvert state election procedures, threatens retribution against other Republicans, and incites violence. And—this is crucial—he does so largely with the complicity of the Republican party.
- Dec. 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 will publicly admit that Biden won the election.
- Dec. 8, 2020: The Arizona GOP sends out an appalling tweet—asking if people are “willing to give [their] life” in support of Trump’s efforts to overturn the election.
- Dec. 9, 2020: The Republican majority leader of the Pennsylvania Senate tells a New York Times reporter that 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.”
- Dec. 10, 2020: The Trump administration continues to obstruct the transition to the Biden administration, while over 100 Republican House members and 17 state attorneys general sign onto Texas’ unprecedented and “seditious” lawsuit against four swing states.
For the earlier time period, Maddow Blog’s Steve Benen summed it up this way:
- April 2011: House Republicans threaten a government shutdown unless Democrats accept GOP demands on spending cuts.
- July 2011: Republicans create the first-ever debt-ceiling crisis, threatening to default on the nation’s debts unless Democrats accept GOP demands on spending cuts.
- September 2011: Republicans threaten another shutdown.
- April 2012: Republicans threaten another shutdown.
- December 2012: Republicans spend months refusing to negotiate in the lead up to the so-called “fiscal cliff.”
- January 2013: Republicans raise the specter of another debt-ceiling crisis.
- September 2013: Republicans threaten another shutdown.
- October 2013: Republicans actually shut down the government.
- February 2014: Republicans raise the specter of another debt-ceiling crisis.
- December 2014: Republicans threaten another shutdown.
- February 2015: Republicans threaten a Department of Homeland Security shutdown.
- September 2015: Republicans threaten another shutdown over Planned Parenthood.
Holy cow, right!?! But reading this list of “Republicanism” illustrates the absurdity of asking whether Republicans intend today to be “bipartisan” or helpful in any respect. Absorbing this chronology should dispel any notion that “some moderate Republican coalition” exists to help pass bills or make progress.
And understanding all of the above — and refreshing your memories — is required to meaningfully assess our current political situation and the unbroken, continuing, and consistent threat posed by the Republican Party.
And the misconduct by Republicans is so varied and repetitive, and covered up by lies, that we should likely publish (and update) this chronology every month.