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They continue to kowtow to Trump. They refuse to acknowledge that all the talk of election fraud is devoid of evidence and a lie. They pretend that the challenges at the border are the country’s gravest threat. They deny the reality of climate change. They refuse to confront the epidemic of gun violence. They behave as if white supremacist-fueled domestic terrorism doesn’t exist or doesn’t require their attention. They swear systemic racism is not a thing. They refuse to tamp down the potential of further political violence. They ignore the need to expand immigration as the population ages. They refuse to admit the role of the Russians in our elections. They pretend January 6 was not a deadly attack committed by Trump supporters. They reject the necessity of a Congressional investigation.
Denying reality is no way to govern.
Yet the Republicans have abdicated their responsibility to our democratic system and to the needs of a nation confronted by genuine threats. They have shown us that they are focused on getting and keeping power by any means necessary, even if it means denying the right to vote, the legitimacy of actual election outcomes, the life-and-death danger of insurrection, the necessity of shared facts and truth in a healthy society, and the possibility that democracy itself may not survive. There’s a reason why Republican voters heard “a lot” more about the pulling of Dr. Seuss books than the fact that the House passed the COVID relief bill or President Biden announced in March that the country was on track to have vaccines for every adult by late May.
I’d like to think they know that most Americans recognize they have abdicated their responsibility to govern. But their actions underscore that taking power is their singular goal, even if it means abandoning the ideals and principles captured in the U.S. constitution and rejecting the values that have fueled American progress.
Equality? Diversity? No one is above the law? A global beacon of democracy? Nope, all expendable.
The profoundly cynical response to January 6 remains the most vivid expression of the willingness to toss it all away. On the evening after that heinous attack, 147 Republicans refused to certify the proven outcome of the election. To this day, most have refused to state that Joe Biden won the election fair and square. In GOP-controlled state legislatures around the country, Republicans have aggressively pursued and passed laws intended to discourage and deny voting rights and voting access. Republicans who witnessed the insurrection in their own workplace have voted against an investigation of the crimes. These same individuals chose to purge one of their own leaders who called them out for their Big Lie and their refusal to reject Trump and condemn his incitement. They remain quiet as some of their accomplices insist the day’s events were either like a peaceful tourist visit or committed by left-wing agitators and intended to make Trump look bad.
In a sane world—a world where shame is still operative and morality still influences leaders—Republicans would grasp that doubling down on behavior that increases the poison in the body politic and likely accelerates their party’s eventual demise is a mistaken strategy. But in the absence of sanity, the abundance of cynicism and the mistaken conviction that rolling snake eyes is really a winning hand, they have ensured that the rest of us will do what we can to limit their power and their ability to cause more and more damage. That begins with holding the insurrectionists and their inciters accountable for their crimes.
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