A lot of them are ignorant.
At least, if a recent report from the (admittedly leftish) New Republic is at all accurate. That article looked at the GOP crazies’ enthusiasm for a government shutdown, and found that–in addition to their antipathy to government in general–several of them appear convinced that a government shutdown would prevent the prosecutions of Donald Trump from continuing.
If this is really one of the motives for our current dysfunction, it rests on a misconception.
A government shutdown would not end the four Trump prosecutions! Two of them, of course, are being undertaken at the state level, in New York and Georgia, so Congress has no power over those at all. And the two federal ones, both led by Jack Smith, one in Washington, D.C., and one in Florida, are protected from any shutdown. In the past, reports NBC News, federal criminal matters have been exempted from government shutdowns. A Justice Department memo from 2021—long before Trump was indicted anywhere, so presumably written not with him specifically in mind—states that in the event of a shutdown, “criminal litigation will continue without interruption as an activity essential to the safety of human life and the protection of property.”
It’s hard to believe that people elected to the Congress of the United States are so ignorant of the rules promulgated by that government, but there is massive evidence that several of them really are that clueless. Marjorie Taylor Green comes to mind…. and how many times have you watched a political advertisement in which a candidate promises to do something that is either patently illegal or–as a practical matter– impossible? I always wonder whether the candidate really believes s/he can accomplish whatever it is, or whether (more likely) s/he thinks voters are too ignorant to know better.
That said, according to the linked article, most elected officials do know better.
Very few of them believe this garbage. As Mitt Romney told McKay Coppins recently, GOP senators regularly criticized Trump behind his back and once “burst into laughter” after he left the room. The House is more extreme than the Senate, so maybe a dozen of them really believe Trump’s narrative. But most don’t. And yet they say it and say it and say it, with conviction.
The only thing that explains the culture warriors who aren’t acting out of ignorance or stupidity is venality. Only a dishonest calculus can account for their public pronouncements: If pandering to a crazed base–a cult–is what it will take to avoid a primary challenge from the even-loonier Right, then that pandering will take priority over both personal integrity and the clear interests of the American public. There’s no bottom to their cupidity and self-interest.
Representative Andy Clyde—the guy who called January 6 a “normal tourist visit”—is seeking to add amendments to the appropriations bill to remove all federal funding from all three prosecutors (Smith, Fani Willis, and Alvin Bragg). Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene want to defund Smith. And Jim Jordan (of course) wants legislation dictating that the department can’t spend money on “politically sensitive” investigations.
Can these people possibly get more corrupt? (Don’t answer that.) But this is what happens when reality is turned on its head. Trump has created a “reality” that is the direct opposite of real reality. In real reality, ample evidence exists to suggest that Trump committed serious crimes, and he tried, right in front of our eyes, to lead a violent coup against the United States. But in Trump reality, it’s all McCarthyism.
The past few weeks have demonstrated just how little today’s Republican Party cares about governance or the American people. The GOP House members have vacillated between paralysis in the face of events requiring crucial decision-making, and toyed with installing a legislative terrorist as Speaker.
The last paragraph summed up our situation:
And let’s remember the bigger picture with respect to democracy. When one of two political parties is led by people who either (a) genuinely believe a fascist interpretation of reality or (b) don’t, but pretend to out of fear of a strongman and his well-armed followers … well, if that party takes power, democracy is kaput. We’ll find out soon enough how much of the country cares.
We will indeed.Comments