Yesterday, in response to a gun threat on UNC campus, Republican House Speaker Tim Moore suggested that the legislature should remove the gun-free status on college campuses. Earlier in the week, GOP Congresswoman Lauren Boebert was removed from a theater in Denver for vaping, taking flash photos, dancing, singing, and generally disrupting a performance of the musical “Beetlejuice.” She gave the ushers the finger on the way out and lied to reporters about her behavior. Republican Senator Mitt Romney dished on his fellow Republicans, portraying a party devoid of any courageous leaders and full of cynics, saying “A very large portion of my party really doesn’t believe in the Constitution.”
There’s a great skit by the British comedy duo of Mitchell and Webb that has two German soldiers on the Russian front questioning whether they are the good guys or the bad guys. As the one officer asks, “Hans, are we the baddies?” Isn’t it time for honest Republicans to ask themselves the same question?
Moore argues that we’re not going to get rid of guns in the near future. And he’s right, but Republicans have been flooding society with guns for thirty years, telling their base that Democrats are going to take guns away. Only the most extreme Democrats believe guns should be illegal, but most believe firearms should be better regulated and kept out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them. Republicans have consistently opposed any measure to do so. As a result, we’ve created a generation of young people who live in fear of a mass shooting and most have no interest in walking around armed to the teeth.
Moore’s notion reflects the absurd nature of the gun nut culture. In their misguided and demonstrably wrong view, more guns make us safer. Instead, more guns have made them the leading cause of death among children. Let’s say that again: More guns have made them the leading cause of death among children. If your opinion is literally killing children, you’re the baddie.
I don’t know whether Moore really believes that whole myth of the good guy with the gun, but that’s what he said. Facts, though, don’t bear it out. Heritage Foundation tried to justify the proliferation of guns in our country by pointing out that they were used for defensive purposes 788 times last year. However, they were used in 20,138 homicides and 26,993 suicides. Good guys with guns clearly failed miserably. Also, we have the second highest number of gun deaths in world and we have a per capita firearm death rate that’s about four or five times higher than any other western democracy.
As for Lauren Boebert, she’s not representative of every Republican, but she illustrates what enabling bad behavior has done to the GOP. Here in North Carolina, Congressman and Attorney General candidate Dan Bishop brought Boebert to the state for a fundraiser and has allied himself consistently with her in Congress. As Boebert was being escorted out of the theater, she asked ushers, “Do you know who I am?” I don’t know the if they did or not, but Dan Bishop certainly does and he’s enabling her no-class act in Congress. He’s a baddie.
She also tells us a lot about the Republican base. They would prefer a woman who perpetually shows little understanding of Congress or the constitution to any Democrat. For them, good government, democracy, or the rule of law come second to owning the libs. That’s how we ended up with Boebert, Marjorie Taylor Green, Matt Gaetz, Paul Gosar, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and a host of other politicians who routinely appeal to the worst of our instincts to stay in power. Republicans have failed to police their own and now their party is in control of extremists, charlatans, grifters, and the intellectually challenged.
Mitt Romney spent two years talking to journalist McKay Coppins, a fellow Mormon, laying bare his thoughts and despair about his party. Once the standard bearer, Romney is now an outcast. He clearly felt he has nothing to lose by telling the truth on GOP. He describes a party that has lost all sense of purpose other than to stay in power. He especially has disdain for people like J.D. Vance, Josh Hawley, and Ted Cruz who push conspiracies and lies just to fire up the base and garner support. To hear Romney tell it, the GOP is a party of cowards, beholden to an ignorant base and manipulated by con artists like Donald Trump.
Romney’s devastating description of the state of his party only validates what people like me have long believed. The conservative intellectual class, the people who promoted Reaganism, have largely left the GOP, leaving behind tribalists and opportunists to give the party any ideological purpose. The main thrust of Republican pundits is that Democrats are just bad as Republicans. It’s the whole reason for the current impeachment inquiry. They don’t have anything to offer the American people. Hell, they don’t even try.
Romney wonders if this breed of intellectually and morally bankrupt reactionism is new to the party or if it’s been there all along and he missed it. It’s always been there, at least since the Civil Rights Movement and Nixon’s Southern Strategy that co-opted the segregationist wing of the Democratic Party. That strain of right-wing populism was dominant in the Democratic Party of the South from the end of Reconstruction through the New Deal. From FDR to Lyndon Johnson, it took Democrats more than 30 years to disentangle the reactionaries from the party. Today, they’re Republicans and spread out further than just the South.
It’s time for the remaining thoughtful Republicans to take a realistic look at their party. They’ve promoted policies that are killing our kids. They’ve refused to call out party leaders whose behavior, not too long ago, would be a source of embarrassment. Their last president and likely 2024 nominee, at the very least, gave moral support to people who would overthrow our government. Most of his inner circle from his 2020 campaign ended up in jail. As Romney emphasizes over and over, elected Republicans knew he was wrong but lacked the conviction to stand up to him. That’s a party of cowards and charlatans. And they justify their cowardice by rationalizing that, somehow, Democrats are worse.
I think you’re the baddies.