Republicans can either be a party that participates in American democracy or they can be the party of Mr. Trump. They can’t be both.
Alarming new details are emerging about the true nature of the violent insurrection that we witnessed last week — and the critical point about this insurrection is that it is ongoing.
This raises the stakes on what we’re seeing from many Republicans, who are working to obscure the true source of this ongoing threat. By piously calling for “unity,” and claiming impeachment will “divide” us, they are striving to manufacture the impression that the cause of our ongoing breakdown is some species of generalized division.
In fact, it’s a straight cause-and-effect: One side (Trump and his democracy-despising enablers who are still trying to illegitimately overturn the election’s outcome) is threatening and inciting violence against the other (those who stand for constitutional democracy and are affirming the legitimacy of that outcome).
This has now been crystallized by none other than a senior Republican congressional staffer. Politico reports that Jason Schmid has resigned from the House Foreign Affairs Committee with a blistering letter attacking his party’s efforts to overturn the election.
Schmid argued in his letter that Republicans had failed to sufficiently condemn the insurrection. I want to highlight this:
The sad, incontrovertible truth is that the people who laid siege to the Capitol were and continue to be domestic enemies of the Constitution of the United States. A poisonous lie that the election was illegitimate and should be overturned inspired so called “patriots” to share common cause with white supremacists, neo-Nazis and conspiracy theorists to attack the seat of American government.
GOP lawmakers who voted to overturn the election, Schmid charged, “harmed the ability of every service member, intelligence officer, and diplomat to defend the nation and advance American interests.”
What’s important here is the unflinching acknowledgment of two things: First, the claim by Trump and his enablers that he won is a deranged lie and anyone telling it is an enemy of U.S. constitutional democracy. Second, this lie is what incited the violent siege of the Capitol.
That is what many Republicans will not say, and it’s why this letter is important news.
… Trump is enforcing this line among Republicans. He told reporters on Tuesday that “I want no violence” and that Democrats pursuing impeachment are “causing tremendous anger.”
There’s that veiled threat again — Hold me accountable for inciting violence and you’ll meet more violence! — but it’s also a command to Republicans: Keep denying that I’m the chief instigator of the violence, and keep claiming the real threat of incitement comes from Democrats.
… Making this worse, as Simon Rosenberg points out, countless elected GOP officials are already on record having propped up these lies for months. The only way to reverse this is to flatly and unequivocally declare that those were lies and that Biden legitimately won:
I would add that Republicans must also say unequivocally that this lie caused last week’s violence, and that it threatens untold more to come.
Republican calls for “unity” are conditional: Unity can only be premised on a blanket agreement not to acknowledge the truth about who and what are actually to blame for violently tearing the country in half. Until Republicans tell the truth about all of this, their professed hopes for unity are empty nonsense, to be treated with derisive contempt.