When members of the House Select Committee on Jan. 6 asked Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) to meet with them, they probably should’ve known that he wouldn’t comply with their request. The Republican answered their perfectly legitimate ask with a four-page letter detailing his quibbles with the committee, including a declaration that the request “violates core Constitutional principles.”
When did congressional hearings become unconstitutional? It must have been after Republicans hauled then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in for a 12-hour probe over the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012.
Jordan is just one of the countless members of the GOP who will meet facts with absurdity without a second thought. There’s Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who tweeted an anti-Semitic trope claiming “upscale liberals who control the media” believe that Jan. 6 is another 9/11, despite the fact that on the day of the Capitol riot, he also condemned the attackers.
We can’t forget Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who touted the perfect solution to the pandemic: God. “Why do we assume that the body’s natural immune system isn’t the marvel that it is?” he asked on a conservative radio show earlier this month. “Why do we think that we can create something better than God in terms of combating disease?”
Because of statements like these, we know that political discourse has fully entered the theater of the absurd. There is no “truth” anymore because we can no longer trust one of our two major parties to stay moored to reality. Instead, we have a GOP that never hesitates to lie, engages in wild conspiracy theories, and makes even the biggest hypocrites look like saints.
Where does this leave Democrats who are still concerned with the norms that used to dictate the government?
It’s time for Democrats to stop mourning the death of “norms” and move to the acceptance phase — norms are dead, and you can’t reach across the aisle to someone who is not bound by reality.
Consider Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.). The pair of right-wing conservatives, like the rest of the GOP, skipped the official proceedings to commemorate the Jan. 6 insurrection and held their own event. Both have been accused of being more involved with the attack, so they used the mantle of the federal government to claim that the very same federal government had orchestrated the riot.
“We are here to expose the truth and ask key questions about the extent to which the federal government was involved,” Gaetz said at a press conference. “January 6 was not an insurrection… [but] there may very well have been a ‘fedsurrection.’”
The conspiracy theory is that Ray Epps, a man seen in footage from that day, was secretly an FBI informant who tricked Trump supporters into ransacking the Capitol.
It’s an outlandish theory. Not only was the Trump administration still in charge of the federal government at the time, but what purpose would framing Trump supporters even serve? Yet since logic and common sense are not necessary for the GOP, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) hopped on the bandwagon. He’d been in the middle of begging for forgiveness for accidentally telling the truth about Jan. 6, and this was the perfect way to humiliate himself even further.
In an effort to inject some sanity into the discourse, the House committee tasked with investigating the insurrection put out a statement saying that Epps had been cooperating with law enforcement and was not an informant of any kind.
Did this statement make Cruz and Greene back off from their wild speculation? Of course not. Greene, who was stripped of her committee assignments last year and kicked off Twitter earlier this month for her lies about COVID-19, has been living in an alternate reality for years. Why stop now?
“It’s time for Democrats to stop mourning the death of ‘norms’ and move to the acceptance phase — norms are dead, and you can’t reach across the aisle to someone who is not bound by reality.”
While the Republicans have been openly plotting how to install a Republican president in 2024 by restricting voting, Democrats have slowly pushed back. This week, President Joe Biden gave a speech on the filibuster and voting rights that compared Republicans trying to curtail voting rights to the segregationists of the 1960s. Seeing as the GOP spent the year following the Jan. 6 attack planning how to be successful in the next presidential election, the comparison almost seems too tame.
Nevertheless, Republicans came out with guns blazing. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called the speech “unpresidential” and said Biden’s push to end the filibuster was “incoherent, incorrect and beneath his office.”
Incoherent and incorrect? Sounds like someone else we all know. But, naturally, there are no McConnell statements on other presidents who released daily incoherent rants.
However, the current problem is best encapsulated not by the GOP response to Biden’s voting rights speech, but by the Democratic one.
On Thursday, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said that Biden went “a little too far” in his rhetoric. The GOP is the party that was willing to default on the debt ceiling and usher in unprecedented economic turmoil to stick it to the liberals. Republicans have yet to meet a Democratic policy proposal they won’t compare to genocide, but Biden went too far.
The Biden administration’s poll numbers are lagging, and there are already rumblings of a tough midterm election for the Democratic Party. Part of the reason why is that the Democratic base is feeling abandoned by the people it elected. Instead of fighting fire with fire, Democratic politicians seem determined to let the GOP define the rules. Why should the party that doesn’t believe in anything beyond owning the libs and serving its donors set the parameters for politics and society?
Some of Biden’s biggest policy plans have been hampered by the idea that a president simply can’t do that. He can’t cancel student loans. He can’t encourage Congress to pass a massive voting rights bill. He can’t mandate that workers get vaccinated against a deadly disease.
Well, a president also can’t inspire thousands of his supporters to overrun the U.S. Capitol to overturn an election. And yet…
If the truth is whatever Cruz or Greene feel like on any given day, it becomes asymmetrical warfare to operate with a set of fixed rules. The GOP has proven time and time again that it will make up bald-faced lies about anything, from an attempted coup to a deadly virus. It’s time to embrace the only rule: There are none.