The last couple of weeks in the United States has been something to witness and honestly, witness feels like the right word for it. It has been equally disturbing and comforting to see all the things that have happened and honestly, it has been near impossible to keep up. It has been disturbing to see how some politicians sink to new lows in this moment, using hate and division to try to advance their own goals. But at the same time I have been comforted to see some politicians rise to this moment, letting their better angels take the wheel and guide them in the right direction.
There are many examples of both that we can point to, we’re not lacking for that. But for me it has been interesting to see how certain parties are reacting to what’s happening and what their members are doing in this moment. In the United States, the Republicans of Donald Trump are the ones that many are watching, wondering if this is the moment that they will finally snap them out of this hold he has on them. To that end, I have two striking examples that have come across my timeline this morning, of both the good and the bad. I think they speak to what we’re starting to see from the Republicans and what the moment is bringing about. Let’s start with the good, and this video from the weekend:
I have to admit that the evolution of Mitt Romney is something that fascinates me. Remember 2012 Romney, the Republican presidential nominee who managed to step on every landmine in that campaign? His “binders full of women”? His “47%” comments about Obama voters behind closed doors to millionaire donors? In these days it’s hard to believe that it has been eight years since that happened, yet that’s the truth of it. Remember what that 47% rant was all about. Let’s re-up that to make the point:
He said that those 47% of his fellow citizens were people who “who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing.” He called that “an entitlement.” He called them “people who pay no income tax”, which somehow made them lesser in his eyes. And for him the whole point of that rant was to drive home the point that, in his mind, his job “is not to worry about those people” because he’ll “never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” That was Mitt Romney in 2012 and how exactly are those words any different than Donald Trump in 2020? Trump talks a lot in similar ways, talks about “never-Trumpers”, Democrats, journalists and anyone who didn’t vote for him as if he owes them nothing and can just ignore them. Isn’t that exactly what 2012-Romney was running on?
Yet here we see 2020 Romney marching in a protest in Washington in support of eliminating racism, guided by his Mormon faith. He was marching in support of the same people that he said, “believe they are victims”, in essence suggesting that they really weren’t. Those same religious convictions didn’t stop him from excoriating those people in 2012, yet they have risen to the surface today. I’m not questioning his religious convictions today and if anything, I believe that everything he’s been through over the past many years has forced him to reconcile them with his political positions of the past. If anything, this moment seems to have fast-tracked that evolution, for the better. Maybe most importantly, while we have seen many Republicans make noises of disapproval of Trump over the past four years, Romney took probably one of the most substantial actions against them. And yeah, it turns out I wasn’t alone in noticing that:
It’s a sure sign that you’ve done something right when you become the subject of a Tweet like that from the 45th President of the United States. And if Romney did the right thing, sadly now it’s time for the example of the wrong to complete this image. Within a couple of minutes of seeing that Romney marching video, I saw this also come across my Twitter feed, which really completes the picture of where that party is at this moment:
Everyone meet Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Trump Republican candidate for the US Congress from Northwest Georgie. And I say Trump Republican because if you see her Twitter feed, she’s gone the Full Trump. That is a campaign video that she put out there where she repeats some of the worst Trump talking points, filled with crap that’s demonstrably false. Of course, that’s not shocking coming from someone whose campaign signs literally say on them “Save America. Stop Socialism!”. He repeats the crap lines about “ANTIFA terrorists”, which is as debunkable as most things Trump says, while at the same time putting out Tweets like these:
Yes on the anniversary of D-Day, she put up Tweets thanking the soldiers who defeated Nazi Germany and the Fascist Axis powers, saying “their bravery is beyong comprehension (sic)”. And she did that just days after she was calling people who are anti-fascist (because there is no organized “ANTIFA” organization) “terrorists”. She did that with no cognitive dissonance at all, which again helps her fit the firm definition of a Trump Republican.
As radio host Charles Adler correctly put it, a few years ago someone like Greene would be considered to be an extremist as she launched dangerous rhetorical bombs while holding a semi-automatic gun. But today, she’s just one of many doing the same thing, trying to ride hate and division to election. It’s striking to me to see someone who rants about burning churches, a self-professed Christian, be so blind to the words of the Bible when it comes to being peacemakers, helping those in need and treating others as you yourself wish to be treated. Yet here we are, 2020 folks.
What’s interesting about this moment is that while you see the likes of Romney clearly growing in this moment and finally appearing to feel that enough is enough with Trump, in the back of my mind is this nagging fear that it’s too late. The fact is that congressional candidate stands a good chance of joining Romney in Washington after the fall, regardless of what happens to Trump. The fact is that it’s taken for things to deteriorate this far before the likes of Romney, Mattis and Bush 43 to publicly make the statements they have this past week. If they could have gone back in time would they have spoken out faster? Maybe, but that’s all guesswork. In the meantime, we will have our answer to “if it’s too late” soon enough and before 2020 is out we will know which version of the Republican Party will rule the day