Finally, after five years, we have identified the point where Republicans (well, some of them at least) start feeling a sense of shame.
It took an invasion of the U.S. Capitol by a mob of agitated conspiracy theorists, egged on by our president, to make some Republicans realize that maybe things have gone too far. Notable among their number is a healthy serving of GOP elected officials, from Gov. Phil Scott to House Minority Leader Pattie McCoy to Sen. Corey Parent to former VTGOP executive director Jeffrey Bartley, and I apologize for anyone else I left out. You did the right thing.
It wasn’t anything new for Scott or many other Vermont Republicans, who have never approved of what the president was doing to the party they loved. But for most Republicans, the remorse was extremely belated. They didn’t draw the line at “rapists and murderers,” or “grab them by the pussy,” or his habit of hurling base insults at his political opponents, or the consistent groveling at the feet of Vladimir Putin, or a foreign policy that favored dictators and punished our longstanding allies, or hush money payments to a porn star, or Trump’s refusal to release his financials, or tearing refugee families apart at the border, or otherwise punitive immigration policies, or “good people on both sides,” or the Trump Foundation self-dealing, or the rank nepotism of his administration, or the shameless profiteering at taxpayer expense, or the disastrous response to Hurricane Maria, or his persistent efforts to bend the justice system to his will, or the efforts to get dirt on Joe Biden, or the commission of clearly impeachable offenses, or the revolving door of imcompetent sycophants and ideologues who populated his administration, or the catastophically bad response to Covid-19.
Nope, it took a direct invasion of the Capitol at the instigation of Donald Trump. So it turns out that Republicans aren’t quite completely shame-free after all. Good to know.
The image above says everything that needs to be said about the events of January 6. As former state representative and chief American History fanboy Dylan Giambatista pointed out on Twitter, the guy is carrying a Confederate battle flag past a portrait of Vermont’s own Justin Morrill, stalwart Republican member of Congress from Civil War days. It was an inadvertent middle finger aimed at anyone who has fought to preserve the union.
After the jump: The CovidCruiser returns.
We don’t yet know what part, if any, that the Vermont contingent played in the attempted insurrection. We do know that a bunch of them, riding what I call the CovidCruiser, rode all night to D.C. to protest against the legitimate results of a legitimate election, and agitate for the installation of the man who lost by seven million votes. They have most likely returned by now, to spread the coronavirus among their friends, neighbors and loved ones.
I hope that at least some of them feel ashamed (I’d settle for “embarrassed”) about what happened yesterday. I hope that they went down to D.C. for a nonviolent expression of their beliefs, and that none of them took part in the storming of the Capitol. Because, in the clear light of the day after, every Republican has to decide: Do you stand with a president seemingly intent on seizing power, destroying democracy and fomenting violence? Or do you stand for a Republican Party that tries to advance conservative policies in the marketplace of ideas and within the framework of the American system?
I have to say I’m not optimistic about the VTGOP. While many of its elected officials have remained within the realm of common sense, the party has freely trafficked in QAnon-style conspiracy theorizing — and the far-rights efforts to deligitimize any Democrat elected president. (That’s been a consistent theme throughout the presidencies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, and the stage is set for more of the same around Joe Biden. Many Republicans simply do not believe that any Democrat deserves to be president.)
Party leaders like VTGOP chair Deb Billado and Republican National Committeeman Jay Shepard and party vice-chair Deb Bucknam (last seen representing the town of Stamford in its ridiculous legal challenge to the governor’s Covid policies) are deeply committed to Team Trump. They publicized the CovidCruiser trip and asked party members to join in. The Chittenden County Republicans lent their names to the bus trip. And it was only a couple days ago when the Rutland County Republicans tweeted out this inflammatory response to an inflammatory Trump tweet:
Leaving aside the customary spelling misadventure, this is quite the statement from one of the biggest county parties in Vermont. Republican Senators Brian Collamore and Joshua Terenzini and the county’s Republican contingent in the House should be queried on whether they agree with their county party or not.
Billado herself issued a pretty good statement last night, condemning the violence. But it remains to be seen whether she and her colleagues are willing to permanently renounce the extreme and anti-democratic nature of Trumpism at its worst.
We wait in hopeful expectation.