The GOP lke to see themselves as the party of the rule of law. They are far from this. Rather, they are the party of double standards.
Before you pull out the whataboutery card on me, as a Brit, I know we have a slew of our own problems. But having just been alerted to 4 stories in 5 minutes that literally made my jaw drop, I am left asking (and not for the first time), America, what the hell are you doing?
This question might more accurately take the form of, Republicans, what the hell are you doing? There is, unsurprisingly, a consistent thread connecting these news items. Perhaps even two threads: the GOP and double standards.
Before I detail the pieces, let me remind the reader that it is the GOP who waxes lyrical about free speech and how it is the left who supposedly tries to shut free speech down.
First, we return to the ubiquitous issue of gun control. The Tennessee GOP, who have a large majority in their Senate, have voted to expel three Democratic legislators from the state House over their protests on the chamber floor against gun violence. This is knowing that the US has had 141 mass shootings in the last 96 days. Lawmakers are clearly prioritizing guns over lives.
Needing a two-thirds supermajority, Republicans ousted Democratic Rep. Justin Jones (72 to 25, along party lines). This was the first time in state history that a House member has been removed for alleged chamber rules violations, and absent of any criminal or civil charges or any investigations.
A letter signed by 250 Democratic lawmakers across the US hint that race could also be at play. “The attempts to expel Reps. Jones, Johnson, and Pearson show a dark truth in the light of day: there’s a robust and racist connection between fighting against gun safety and dismantling our democracy,” the letter says.
Though the second vote for Rep. Gloria Johnson failed to achieve a supermajority, a third lawmaker, Rep. Justin Pearson, has now been expelled. The result? The two black male lawmakers were expelled and the one white female lawmaker was not. Was this a coincidence?
This incident is also a very obvious assault on free speech. It’s just that when people exercise their free speech on subjects Republicans despise, such as gun control, that right goes out of the window. This is another horrible example of Republican double standards.
The second story concerns the rule of law. There was a time that the GOP saw themselves as the defenders of the rule of law. Now they want to defund the FBI and the Department of Justice, and bribe judges.
This scandal involves the highest level of judge in the land. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, seen as many as the most conservative of the judges, is facing calls for his impeachment after it has come to light that he has accepted undisclosed luxury gifts from a Republican mega-donor, and for two decades.
This violation of financial disclosure rules was reported by ProPublica. It seems that he has failed to disclose travel on yachts and jets and other gifts funded by the property billionaire Harlan Crow. As The Guardian reports:
It found that Thomas flies on Crow’s Bombardier Global 5000 jet and holidays on Crow’s 162ft super-yacht. He has enjoyed holidays at Crow’s ranch in Texas and joined him at an exclusive all-male California retreat. The justice usually spends about a week each summer at Crow’s private resort in the Adirondack mountains in New York.
This adds to his impeachment woes given the previous scandal involving his wife, Ginni Thomas, who campaigned to overturn the election.
This is corruption at the very heart of the highest legal institution in the US. This should be staggering to anyone interested in upholding the rule of law.
But if bribing judges isn’t enough for the GOP, then there is always the opportunity to threaten members of the legal system. If the carrot doesn’t appeal enough in their attempt at manipulation of the system, then perhaps the stick is more attractive.
The third story pertains to the legal predicament of former President Donald Trump.
The New York judge (Juan Merchan) who has presided over the arraignment of Trump, and the judge’s family, have received dozens of threats by phone calls, emails, and letters. This has been whipped up by Trump, in a speech, calling Merchan a “Trump-hating judge with a Trump-hating wife and family whose daughter worked for Kamala Harris.”
In the same speech, Trump labeled District Attorney Alvin Bragg “a criminal.” Bragg has also been a recipient of similar threats. This has led some to suggest that Trump may receive a gagging order.
And then there is Marjorie Taylor Greene to discuss.
Imagine if Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a progressive lawmaker from New York, went to a Southern US city, some Republican stronghold, and called it “disgusting, filthy, and repulsive.” She would be eviscerated. Excoriated.
And this brings me to the fourth story.
Marjorie Taylor Greene, once fringe right-wingnut, seems to now represent mainstream Republican thought. When Trump was due in court, she wanted a further 15 minutes in the limelight with a megaphone. Perhaps upset that she was drowned out in her attempts to spew bile, MTG took to Fox News to tell double-standard-bearer Tucker Carlson, “I compared it to what I called Gotham City. The streets are filthy, they’re covered with people basically lying, on drugs. They can’t even stand up. They’re falling over. There’s so much crime in the city. I can’t comprehend how people live there.”
Here we have yet another example of extraordinary double standards. It is often the case that such people will moan on national television that they are being shut down. MTG complained on the country’s biggest media platform that the protest against her was “against the law, by the way, Tucker. You see, they didn’t want me to be able to protest and use my first amendment right. And they wanted violence. I think they wanted that to happen, because they want to repeat January 6 all over again, want all of us Trump supporters, MAGA, basically Republicans and just good Americans to look like criminals, and that’s what they do in communist countries.”
The levels of hypocrisy are incredibly obvious. Here, she complains about not being given the right to protest even those she was able to do so at the time and was just drowned out by other people who had a right to protest. And she protested this on the television network with the biggest share of the nation’s audience. But she has remained silent on the three lawmakers above having their own freedom of speech and ability to protest curtailed by Republican lawmakers themselves m
This is a politician who seeks, apparently, to actually govern nationally in the country. In reality, however, she appears more content to be divisive than unifying, to otherize than to represent, to be rowdy than to rule.
In comparing New York to Gotham City, Greene added, “It was repulsive, it smells bad. And I just, I think it’s a terrible place.”
Just imagine the furore if that had been AOC sounding off against a Republican-run city.
But this seems to be water off a duck’s back for the Republican Party. No longer are they the party of the Moral Majority. Rather, they are a wilderness of moral desolatio non and have no desire to govern and to present anything positive. Instead seem content to endlessly snipe, whinge, and shut down debate, all the while being happy to break, they the law if it suits them just fine.