No, Our Institutions Didn't Hold After Jan. 6-Just Look at the GOP

  • In Politics
  • 2022-06-23 17:53:04Z
  • By The Daily Beast
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Getty
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Getty  

It is increasingly clear that America's political institutions will not protect our democracy if the GOP regains power.

Trump's impeachment, the (eventual) transfer of power between administrations, and the current House select committee hearings are often cited as examples that our respective institutions can stand their ground and act as a bulwark against right-wing fascism. However, such institutions are only as ethical, productive, and robust as the stewards who are entrusted to maintain them.

In our two-party system, the Republican Party counts as an institution (even if the party itself is a private entity) whose members are elected to public office to represent their constituents, defend the country, and uphold the Constitution. But how can a democracy survive when the GOP has been devoured by a right-wing extremist movement whose members are advancing Christian nationalism, promoting antisemitic and anti-LGBTQ conspiracy theories, and willing to purge and dismantle these very same institutions to achieve their goal of minority rule?

It can't.

Your Grandkids Will Care About the Jan. 6 Hearings, Even if You Don't

The Jan. 6 hearings have revealed that the U.S. was truly at the precipice of an unprecedented constitutional crisis, and it would have gone over that cliff if not for the intervention of a handful of Republicans who decided to put their country above a rabid cult of personality. Unfortunately, the GOP has further radicalized in the aftermath of Jan 6 and failed to hold Trump accountable.

As an example, in response to these grave proceedings and damning evidence, the House Judiciary GOP posted a clip of Trump saying, "Bo-ring!" It's an infantile response to some of the most crucial. As my Daily Beast editor Anthony Fisher put it: "If the GOP is an 'American institution,' then institutions did not hold after Jan 6."

The revelations from this week's hearings prove his point.

According to the testimony of numerous life-long Republicans-including Trump's inner circle- Trump was intimately involved in the illegal scheme to install fake electors in battleground states. The nation heard the audio tape where Trump pressured Brad Raffensperger, Georgia's Secretary of State, to find him enough votes to flip the state: "Fellas, I need 11,000 votes. Give me a break."

We learned that attorney John Eastman, the author of the "coup in search of a legal theory," realized his "constitutional mischief" would not be successful, but he and his band of conspirators nonetheless persisted. Eastman was allegedly joined by Sen. Ron Johnson, whose aide tried to deliver a list of fake electors to Vice President Mike Pence, a man who was forty feet away from a violent mob that was chanting "Hang Mike Pence" on Jan. 6. And Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona did his part by asking his state's House speaker, Rusty Bowers, to decertify the electors and overturn the results.

Like Raffensperger, Bowers is a lifelong Republican, and he testified that he refused to participate and did not want to cheat on Trump's behalf. For following the law, these men and their families have been threatened and harassed for months by Trump supporters.

And yet despite being exposed to violence, both men still say they will vote for Trump if he were to run again for president in 2024. This tracks with a majority of Republican elected officials who voted not to certify the 2020 election a few hours after surviving a violent mob that was willing to kill for their coup.

(Just before this column was published, federal agents raided the home of former Trump DOJ official Jeffrey Clark-a loud and proud Big Lie proponent.)

Alexa, show me you're in a cult without telling me you're in a cult.

These Republicans are just looking out for their own skin-literally. If you're unwilling to promote the Big Lie, MAGA intimidates and punishes you until you kneel. If not, you get purged. Rep. Mo Brooks, who wore a kevlar vest the day of the insurrection, is learning this the hard way. Even though right-wing activist Ali Alexander alleges that Rep. Brooks helped him plan the Jan. 6 Stop the Steal Rally, that villainous act still isn't enough to placate the MAGA mob. It seems that Brooks' unpardonable crime was accepting the 2020 election results. Brooks just announced he was retiring after losing his Senate primary to Katie Britt, who is backed by Trump.

The Texas GOP understands the assignment. They just released a batshit platform in which they firmly stand behind the Big Lie, see President Biden as an illegitimate president, retain the right to secede from the United States in 2023, refer to gay people as "abnormal," and reject trans identities. This is not the fringe, but rather coming from Republicans representing the second most populous state in the nation.

The inmates have taken over the institution. For example, at least 108 Republicans who won their primaries since May all believe in the Big Lie. Not to be outdone, the Republican National Committee referred to the attempted insurrection as "legitimate political discourse" done by "ordinary citizens."

Even the Justice Department, which is supposed to be a non-partisan institution, cannot be trusted to be an impartial instrument of the law if Republicans regain political power. Trump pressured the Justice Department and his attorney general, Bill Barr, to help execute his coup attempt. Thankfully, Barr thought Trump's claims were bullshit "bullshit" and demurred.

What happens when Trump or Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wins the White House and installs a loyalist willing to use the Justice Department as the GOP's personal Luca Brasi against all enemies and critics?

We can no longer rely on the Supreme Court as a trusted institution willing to safeguard our democracy and rights. A right-wing activist majority, who seem to take their marching orders from the Federalist Society, are increasingly more committed to advancing their religious zealotry instead of the will of the majority or established precedent.

Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, is a noted right-wing activist who once consulted Trump on how to "purge" his administration. Evidence continues piling up that reveals how Ginni Thomas aggressively emailed and texted Republicans to assist Trump in his illegal scheme to overthrow a free and fair election. Justice Thomas has yet to recuse himself from any Jan. 6 case, and was the sole dissenter in an 8-1 decision that ruled Trump had to hand over documents to the Jan. 6 committee. If a Republican wins the presidency in 2024, one can only imagine what damage an extremist judge and their extremist spouse will do to our democracy.

Dinesh D'Souza's Vile Big Lie Documentary Is Too Stupid Even for Fox

State legislatures, a majority of which belong to Republicans, are now the means for the GOP to reject election results they don't like. In Wisconsin, the Trump-endorsed GOP candidate for governor, Tim Michaels, refuses to say if he will certify the next presidential election. In Pennsylvania, the GOP candidate for governor, Doug Mastriano, likewise promotes the big lie and was present at the insurrection. Kari Lake, a Republican who's running for governor of Arizona, tweeted that she won't recognize "unconstitutional gun laws" if she wins. "What are the Feds going to do?" she asked. "Fly down here and arrest a sitting Governor? Call my bluff." What other federal laws won't she recognize if elected?

Finally, on a local level, the RNC is unleashing a "precinct strategy" that is assembling a nationwide army of GOP activists that will disrupt election results if necessary. They are using poll workers, GOP lawyers, party-friendly district attorneys, and party-loyal Boards of Canvassers-who are responsible for certifying the election.

What will these extremist forces do to our democracy and our hard-earned rights when they achieve power?

"The bad guys won," Mo Brooks grumbled after losing his race.

If the GOP is one of our major political institutions that acts as a bulwark to protect our democracy, then the "bad guys" have taken over and are one step closer to dismantling the few remaining guardrails protecting us from fascism.

The question is: where are the good guys and what are they doing to stop them?

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