What we have been watching lately — a mob invasion of Congress and the resulting Senate hearings on articles of impeachment — is not mere politics. It’s more of a soap opera/disaster flick about hypocrisy, cowardice and abuses of power flying a false flag.
Politics as perceived by the best of our leaders would be an honorable way for people with differing priorities to come to some general agreements on managing the public agenda. Using compromise and dedication in dialog, consideration of the facts — including new ones— people with different world views can live together in relative peace.
We awaken to reality. A dozen senators and congressional members have been censured by their state Republican central committees for voting their consciences on the issues of the impeachment of the former president. That’s headlines on CNN but no surprise to anyone who ever stepped up to run for political office.
Zealots on the committee or among financial donors can corrupt the processes. Instead of assuring general moral and intellectual integrity, reasonable intelligence and honesty, candidates are backed on tests for combat: Loyalty, single-minded dedication to winning, ruthlessness and the ability to spin any challenge or question into propaganda.
Take that far enough, and you have people trying to justify domestic terrorism following the rise of a dictator who manipulates a mob assault of Congress in session.
As the GOP censures their delegates to the governmental stage, they also enable the destruction of their own party.
Michael Steele, former lieutenant governor of Maryland to Gov. Robert Ehrlich, has been head of the national Republican party and is now often called on by MSNBC as an expert on political issues. He never did have the edginess of Ehrlich, who could not resist references to Democrat or RINO “whiners” when surrounded by true believers.
Steele’s take on the future of the Republican party seems to be coldly realistic; he is not called on to be a cheerleader, but nor has he abandoned the GOP. He does seem disappointed in the direction it is going.
For good reason. Real Republicans are leaving the loony bin that used to be the Party of Lincoln.
According to published reports last week following the attack on Congress, about 150,000 Republican voters left the party. Not necessarily to become Democrats, but something else, including the growing list of voters who joined Democrat centrists and others, since the election of 2016, who are now unaffiliated, independent of the rancor and the pressures of the absolutists at the radical extremes of either party.
Evidence of the magnitude of the migration was seen in Georgia’s vote for Biden as President, and the subsequent election of two Democrats to replace Republican senators. That was a rejection of Trump, perhaps, but also of the Republican intransigence in the face of a changing electorate.
Senate leader Mitch McConnell’s pathetic dance with the facts of the vote count, his partisan vote following a candid indictment of Trump’s influences on the assault of the Capitol, and then the looming impeachment morass speaks to the lose-lose situation the Republicans have created for themselves.
How can they defend the indefensible and still be loyal to traditional Republican — or American —ideals?
By the results of the vote not to indict in the impeachment proceedings, it would appear that they can’t.
The party that has been going over to the fringe elements since the so-called “Tea Party” movement has become efficient at running moderates out of their ranks, even long-time loyalists.
They have been unwelcoming to newcomers who don’t pass their rigid conservative doctrine, but they made a critical error: They allowed the party to be taken over by dark forces, and found they were willing to throw out all the rules of civility.
They created a deity in their own image, a cult figure whose bad manners and ruthless self-service spoke for them and gave justification to amorality in the name of patriotism. And they live in fear.
That’s how fascism achieves legitimacy.
Dean Minnich, who retired from a career in journalism and served two terms as a county commissioner, writes from Westminster. His column runs Thursdays. Email him at email@example.com.