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In all the talk about the Republican Insurrection and Trump’s impeachment, one very large story has not gotten nearly the degree of high attention that it deserves.  It appears that we now have a President (or Republican voters generally) that effectively have death squads or, as crucially, the effective threat of death squads.  And it already has impacted constitutional government. 

Think about that.  I wish this was hyperbole, but it is not and should be the biggest story in what . . .  ever?  Consider:

  • Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.) said Republicans he spoke with on Tuesday evening wept and told him they fear for their personal safety as they weigh whether to vote in favor of impeachment of President Trump this week.

    “The majority of them are paralyzed with fear,” Crow said Wednesday on MSNBC. “I had a lot of conversations with my Republican colleagues last night. A couple of them actually broke down in tears talking to me, and saying that they are afraid for their lives if they vote for this impeachment.”

  • Tim Alberta, Politico’s chief political correspondent, found in his own reporting that “[Rep. Jason] Crow was right.”   

    “I know for a fact several members *want* to impeach but fear casting that vote could get them or their families murdered,” Alberta writes. “Numerous House Republicans have received death threats in the past week.”

  • Republican Peter Meijer (MI) said in a print interview:  “And then one of the saddest things is I had colleagues who, when it came time to recognize reality and vote to certify Arizona and Pennsylvania in the Electoral College, they knew in their heart of hearts that they should've voted to certify, but some had legitimate concerns about the safety of their families. They felt that that vote would put their families in danger.”
  • Later Republican Peter Meijer (MI) said that “he and some of his colleagues are buying body armor and altering their daily routines due to fear of violence.” 

    “It’s sad that we have to get to that point, but you know our expectation is that someone may try to kill us,” Meijer, R-Mich., said Thursday in an interview on MSNBC.

  • ​​​​​​​CNN's Jamie Gangel reports:”Liz Cheney, these Republicans who have announced,  they are showing courage at the same time as I have been told by Republican sources that members, Republican members, have said they are not going to vote for impeachment because they are still scared of Donald Trump,” Gangel told CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

    “I was told that the White House is continuing to pressure these members, that Trump has not stopped and that members, quote, 'fear for their lives and for their families' lives,'” she continued. “After what we saw on January 6th, a week later, that says a lot that the White House is still pressuring people.”

As Paul Waldman at The Washington Post writes:

We must now confront a sinister new reality. Republicans are no longer just afraid that their base will force them to defend the politically indefensible or send them packing in a primary challenge.

They’re afraid that their base, or at least certain elements of it, will literally kill them.

Hold on!  Everybody stop.  I know the events of the past weeks have been historically bad and significant. But, Republicans leaders, privately and publicly, are telling us that they fear for their lives — and that such unheard of domestic terrorism has already affected our constitutional governance.  This is not a future or emerging threat.  It is now a fact. 

Let me be clear that I am NOT defending Republicans here. And so it is not overly relevant to comment below “Too bad!,” or some Republican “should be a leader!” or “Republicans brought this on themselves.”  

All of that is true.  But the larger, more important point for all of us is the fact that in 2020 the US government (federal and state) is subject to the threat of death squads — and that deadly influence is already determining outcomes.  As we only have two major political parties, this is not just happening to them, it is happening to all of us.

So, the answer is that we can’t treat all this merely as “Did Trump transgress a law? Or a norm?”  Nor: “Should Trump be impeached?” or “How will impeachment affect Biden’s cabinet nominations or first days agenda?”  

No!  Death squads, or the plausible threat of death squads, are damaging and driving our government!  That is the most important story staring us right in the national face.  Call it out!   Banner headlines.  Obsess over it.  Don’t ask about anything else.  Go to a five alarm fire state. Hold Congressional hearings.  Demand Justice Department and FBI interventions.  Talk about nothing else . . . 

[Tap, tap . . . is this mike on?]

  • January 15, 2021