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Batavick: Republicans need to move past toxic Trumpism, develop positive political agenda | COMMENTARY

Hey, my Republican friends. Can we talk? This won’t take long. Now that Joe Biden is in the White House, there are some things that must be said. Not for me, but for you. I’m sure you’ve noticed that your party is in shambles. That’s not good for the country. The Democrats need a loyal opposition to debate policy and parry ideas. It’s important that you heal and come together, but first there are some things you need to do.

After the traumatic events of Jan. 6 that put “insurrection” and “sedition” on everyone’s lips, you must stop calling Democrats radicals and extremists. Del. Haven Shoemaker, I’m speaking to you. You lost your license for these words when fellow party members erected a gallows on the Capitol grounds, savagely invaded this shrine of democracy, assaulted police, killed an officer, and went looking for Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi with Zip-Ties. Washington and most state capitals now resemble military garrisons to fend off attacks. There’s no doubt which party genuinely deserves the radical and extremist descriptors.

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After witnessing the American flag desecrated and used as a weapon and battering ram, you may want to stop claiming exclusive ownership of our patriotic symbols.

It would certainly be unfair to lump our county GOPers in with the Proud Boys, QAnon, and Oath Keepers who surged through the Capitol’s doors. But how is it that people who think and act like that found a home in the Republican Party? Is it the authoritarianism, nationalism, and nativism that Trump extolled? Is it the racist undercurrent roiling beneath these movements? After all, I never thought I’d see a Confederate flag paraded through the halls of Congress. Is it a distorted MAGA vision of an America that maybe once was but can never be recaptured?

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Do you believe in objective truth? Can it be said unequivocally that some things are factual and other things lies? Take the recent election. Trump spread the Big Lie that he had won by a landslide and a massive national conspiracy robbed him of the presidency. This started last August when he claimed, “the only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged.”

More than 60 lawsuits were filed to bolster Trump’s lie, but there wasn’t a scintilla of evidence to back them up, and even Trump-appointed judges threw the cases out. Yet, many of you chose to buy into this Big Lie, as did 140 members of Congress, including our own Rep. Andy Harris, stoking the insurrection. Why is that? You need to unqualifiedly accept Biden as the winner of a free and fair election. Now.

You have another problem. The GOP has become the willing accomplice of right-wing media in spreading falsehoods and disinformation. Fox News and its opinion shows continue to amplify the president’s Big Lie, as they have the severity of COVID-19, the threat of climate change, and dozens of other issues.

Talk radio complements Fox in truth trashing and distorting events. On Jan. 7, Rush Limbaugh compared the MAGA mob to “Sam Adams, Thomas Paine, and the actual Tea Party guys” and outrageously offered, “I don’t view the institution of the Capitol as sacred the way others do.” Admit that this is bozo crazy.

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I’m convinced the majority of legislators and right-wing talking heads didn’t actually believe Trump’s Big Lie. For the most part, these are intelligent people. The legislators promulgated the lie to pander for votes and avoid the lash of Trump’s tweets and being primaried. The broadcasters catered to their conspiracy-minded audiences and the need to boost ratings for advertising revenue. So where does that leave you?

You must help your party develop a positive political agenda. Trump didn’t have a platform in 2020; he just promised four more years of him. You need to stand for something besides obstructionism, antisocialism, conservative judges, tax cuts, and distrust of science.

Lastly, this page’s conservative opinion columnists should stop blissfully ignoring inconvenient truths. After the release of shocking, recorded evidence of the president pressuring Georgia’s officials to change the vote tally and disenfranchise millions (Imagine!), my fellow columnists chose to discuss Jill Biden’s doctorate and Trump’s lost Twitter account. There was also the peddling of false equivalency between the BLM protests and the Capitol insurrection. Yes, both had unacceptable violence, but they’re apples and oranges, folks. Only one trampled the Constitution’s peaceful transfer of power.

What you should be about now is shaking yourselves free from the toxic vestiges of Trumpism, including his elected enablers. Ignore his future rants. Join with “Conscience Republicans” by refusing ever again to pursue party power over democratic principles. And respect the importance of truth by fact-checking claims from the right and left. This will set you free to help build a better tomorrow. Now that your fever has broken, the country needs you.

Frank Batavick writes from Westminster. His column appears every other Friday. Email him at fjbatavick@gmail.com.

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