Our great country has fed and freed more people than any other nation on earth, and that hasn’t happened by accident. American voters have striven to award leadership positions to those people that demonstrated integrity, courage, and an unyielding belief in our democratic right of self-governance. And, more often than not, we succeeded.
Recently however, a concerning majority of GOP voters have birthed a new class of would-be leaders, the sort of folks who treat our democratic institutions with contempt, and denigrate the blood and sweat that’s been sacrificed by generations to maintain our country’s foundations. This month, as we identify some of the “crooks” who have garnered outsized roles in the Republican Party, they’ll be defined by their duplicity and their willingness to defraud. These are the flag-waving phonies pretending to be patriots, when in reality, they treat our long-admired democratic institutions with flagrant derision.
In 1957, when Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower deployed troops to intervene on behalf of Black students during the school-integration crisis in Little Rock, he did so because of his ongoing commitment to “form a more perfect union” for his fellow Americans, regardless of their race. But by 2010, during gatherings of the GOPs increasingly-agitated voting base, Eisenhower’s own party was gleefully lampooning our first Black President as a monkey. Undeniably, during Obama’s first term, the GOP’s toxic blend of rage and racism was well on the way to becoming the Trump movement. This decades-in-the-making transformation has led to the current state of the House GOP caucus, now overrun with MAGA show ponies focused on pumping out hostility-provoking sound bites, rather than governing.
When Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, as Freedom Caucus chair, became the chief proponent of the GOP’s burn-it-all-down philosophy, they stopped exhibiting any traditional legislative plans or agendas. Their sporadic press conferences are spent smearing their latest targets, and it’s no coincidence that the FBI and the DOJ are now covered in crosshairs. After all, more than a few of these knuckleheads have significant criminal exposure stemming from their own participation in the Jan. 6 insurrection. Indeed, Andy Biggs, along with Mo Brooks (R-Alabama), Matt Gaetz (R-Florida), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia), and Scott Perry (R-Pennsylvania), all asked the White House for preemptive pardons before Trump left office. They were simply, crooks looking for cover.
When the Tea Party morphed into the Freedom Caucus in 2015, Mark Meadows was one of its founding members, as was Mick Mulvaney, another former Trump chief of staff, and current Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Although they branded themselves as small government fiscal conservatives, it’s been clear from the start that their prime directive was to drive moderates out of the party. Paul Ryan, the conservative superstar who had run for Vice President on the ticket with Mitt Romney in 2012, ended up quitting politics because he couldn’t abide their in-your-face double-dealing. Dozens of other traditional Republicans have since followed his lead. And during the Trump presidency, the Freedom Caucus shape-shifted again, becoming more populist and nationalistic, increasingly disconnected from coherent policy principles.
More:Lynn Smith: Cowards, crooks, and crazies
For sure, if Republicans retake the majority in November, Trump’s personal henchmen will take a wrecking ball to the American rule of law. Rep. Jim Jordan, the coatless coup plotter from Columbus, will lead the House Judiciary Committee, and he’s already threatening to punish truth-tellers in both parties. Rep. Kay Granger of Texas, who opposes consumer safeguards, environmental protection, and financial regulation, will likely lead the House Appropriations Committee. And two other tireless Trumpers from the Freedom Caucus, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, and Clay Higgins of Louisiana, are already vying to lead Homeland Security.
Shockingly, numerous Senate Republicans, as soon as the Mar-a-Lago search had been confirmed, began issuing increasingly incendiary statements, eventually leading to an armed extremist being shot and killed outside an FBI office. They invoked Nazi Germany and banana republics, civil war and tyranny, and engaged in an aggressive disinformation campaign aimed at ginning up anti-government anxiety. Knowingly lying, they once again painted Trump as the victim of out-of-control Feds. Predictably, the crooks at FOX News aired their most inflammatory assertions in rage-inducing loops, and the Mar-a-Lago master of manipulation raked in millions of hard-earned dollars from misled Americans. It’s the grift that keeps giving … and grows ever more dangerous.
When future historians boggle at the moral destruction of the GOP, they’ll observe that in part, it occurred because the wacky fringe players became mainstreamed. So next month, we’ll focus on the cult of crazies within the GOP.
— Community Columnist Lynn Smith is a retired wealth management executive who resides in Holland. Contact her at email@example.com.