The New Republicans

As deeply disturbing as it might appear, the New Republicans are emerging from the wasteland of Trumpism with a new look. They want to appear to be the rational ones making sure we look at “both sides” of the issues that we face right now. This is not just an ideological position, they really want the world to think that they are back to their conservative roots with good justifications for their beliefs, well documented and reported in the news. But this is a thinly veiled attempt to push the same varieties of madness that proliferated during the Trump presidency. They are worse than tiresome, using the language of reasonableness to push the same conspiracies that marked Trump’s last year in office. They want you to forget January 6, 2021 and the events that led up to it by muddying the waters with more than a sprinkling of lies and obfuscations.

The Insurrection

We know that Donald Trump is responsible for fomenting the attack on the Capitol. We have all watched the videos, heard the testimonies of waffling Republican congresspersons who were terrorized on that day. Now they are back to support lies that came out as a response to what everybody saw and heard.

The first lie, Antifa and BLM supporters dressed up like MAGA supporters are responsible for the attacks on police and breaking and entering the Capitol. The Insider is keeping track of the arrests of people who have been charged in the insurrection. As of June 12th, 521 people have been charged with offenses related to their activities on that day. Not one of those people are members of BLM or Antifa, but ardent supporters of the ex-president. Do they really want us to think that all the Antifa and BLM supporters who were there have escaped the sight of millions of people who watched the videos? Roughly 42 gigabytes of 972 videos were extracted from Parler accounts before it was shut down by Amazon.1 Here’s a collection of over 500 videos compiled along the January 6th timeline by ProPublica. See for yourself. Faces of the Riot compiled a collection of around 6,000 faces extracted from some 200,000 images from the videos.

In the Insider page linked above, Jonathan Gennaro Mellis, arrested for “Forcibly assault, resist, oppose, impede, intimidate, or interfere officers and aiding and abetting; civil disorder; restricted building or grounds; violent entry or disorderly conduct, obstruct, or impede passage, and engage in physical violence on Capitol grounds; obstruction of justice/Congress … wrote on his personal Facebook account: ‘Don’t you dare try to tell me that people are blaming this on antics [Antifa?] and BLM. We proudly take responsibility for storming the Castle.’” David Blair of Maryland, who was arrested for assault on a police officer is recorded by the DOJ as having said that “he was scared of Antifa.” But Antifa was not at the Capitol on January 6th.

The New Republicans are not taking this as an answer. They cancel their own MAGA cohort to blame people that did not storm the Capitol. I love the way New Republicans are embracing cancel culture and denying it at the same time. They are obviously too unsophisticated to see the irony here. After muddying the waters with distracting and obvious lies, the New Republicans want you to forget that any of this happened, rewriting history to say that nothing happened on that day, that is, nothing more than a tour of the Capitol building by inquisitive citizens.

Election Fraud

The New Republicans also want us to think that there is some very real problem with the election where Joe Biden won in a landslide over Donald Trump for the office of President of the United States in 2020. What they are really doing here is undermining the credibility of their own and other election officials’ procedures which are watched over in a long-standing bipartisan fashion. The election procedure in the United States is not broken, but the New Republican wants you to think it is. The numerous stories of Republican election officials disputing the claims of the ex-President have been all over the news, that is, the news that is interested in publishing facts about reality, not conspiracies and lies in support of the ex-president’s lies.

The actual number of voting fraud cases is extremely low, and dealt with by mechanisms already in place by both Republican and Democratic election authorities. The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank reports a mere 1285 cases of voter fraud for the 2020 presidential election. They also provide a list of precautions that election officials must take to avoid voter fraud. A total of 158,590,503 votes were cast for all presidential candidates in the 2020 election. That means that 8/10,000 of a percent of votes were fraudulent, that is 0.00081% of votes were cast illegally. Now, I accept the list of caveats the Heritage Foundation adds to this number that means a variety of fraud cases have not been compiled in their number, but a total of probable cases of voter fraud is nowhere near statistically relevant for the final tally where Joe Biden won handily over Donald Trump by 4.46%, a total of 7,060,519 votes difference between the candidates. I do not accept the idea that absentee ballots pose a large risk of fraud as the Heritage Foundation does. There are plenty of reasons to believe that absentee voters, vetted by their respective states are as legitimate as those voters who went to a polling place to cast their votes. But the Heritage Foundation does list probable cases where fraud may occur, not, by their own admission, that it did occur in the 2020 race. I can have a conversation with these conservatives, but not with those still adhering to Mr Trump’s conspiracies and lies. I do not count the Heritage Foundation with the New Republicans, though their arguments for worry about voter fraud are fodder for those who would call the election into question and those in our nation who are currently putting up more barriers to voting.

For our own household in Missouri, three of us filled out the absentee forms because of Covid-19. Two of them were returned because they contained errors which were subsequently corrected then resubmitted. When the ballots arrived, we filled them out and handed them in to the election authorities before election day in accord with clear rules specified by Missouri, Greene County, and Springfield. We are confident all of our votes were counted. And we didn’t all vote the same way. We believe the election process is fair and equitable in Missouri, even though MAGA supporters far outnumber their opponents.

Curiously, of the lawsuits that the Trump campaign and others waged in a variety of states to contest the election fairness, only one of 86 suits was won. The rest were dropped due to lack of evidence. Many of the judges in these suits were appointed by the Trump White House. The single case that was won, was later overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. This means that no election fraud case brought by the Trump campaign or others was won. Why do the New Republicans insist that there was fraud then? Why are they subverting the election results to recount votes in Arizona? Because they refuse to take the answer that they don’t want. They insist on a lie, a lie started and promoted by one man, ex-president Donald Trump, that there was serious voter fraud that overturned his election to a second term as president. The glamor that holds the New Republicans enslaved to Mr Trump’s lies will eventually be broken, but at what personal cost will those same New Republicans reengage in the political life besmirched by their association with arguably the worst president in the history of the United States.

Rather, they would have us forget the behavior of the man who is rightly accused of a variety of anti-democratic acts, resuming their former positions as respected members of their society, not as part of the MAGA cohort who perpetrated the January 6th Insurrection. But the nation will remember the bad faith in Donald Trump as something that the MAGA supporters chose instead of democracy. It will be remembered that they betrayed their own conservative principles and the country to align themselves with a man without principles. The New Republican is not even a shadow of their party’s originator, Abe Lincoln. They partner with Aaron Burr and other traitors to democracy and the ideals under which our nation was formed. And, just because they didn’t personally get their hands dirty on January 6th doesn’t absolve them of their participation in the Insurrection. They are as much to blame for parroting Trump’s lies as the MAGAs who broke in to the Capitol. I hold them responsible and history will do the same.

So, when a New Republican tries to ply you with reasonableness, remember that they are still participating in the Insurrection. When they ask you to look at both sides of the arguments, they want you to deny the truth that is in front of us all and sully yourself with their unverifiable and culpable filth. Remember that they do this as patriots, but not of America, rather of loyalty to the presidential failure, Donald Trump.

Why did I write this?

I wrote this after I posted an article where radcliffe.harvard.edu supported the assertion that the BLM protests were largely peaceful, and a MAGA supporter, a New Republican private messaged me to say the research was bunk, that Antifa and BLM are violent groups out to undermine democracy, that they were present on January 6th in large numbers dressed as MAGAs.

I carried on a conversation for half a day before the absolute idiocy being pushed as fact got to me. I felt ill from the interaction, and I unfriended that person, destroyed the conversation. This person, supposedly a Christian, proposed a topsy-turvy world that is so far from reality that I was shaken by it. And these people want us to forget January 6th. I realize that there may be true conservatives out there, but for the most part I think they’re trying to ride the insanity out and begin speaking when the dust settles, again as if none of this happened. The Republican party is now without recognizable conservative values, instead inhabited by lies, conspiracies, and demagoguery, railing against cancel culture and the “socialists” in our midst.

GOP ex-Congressman Mickey Edwards said that Republicans attending the CPAC conference were living in an ”alternate reality in which facts don’t matter.” Even Pat Robertson, an ardent supporter of Mr Trump during his presidency, says that Trump is living in an alternate reality, and that he should move on from his loss in the 2020 election.

But evangelical Christians, oblivious to what’s at stake here are doubling down on Trump’s side. They’re not calling it Trump’s side, but have absorbed the idiocy as if it were reality. They bluster on, confident in their powers, not cognizant of their error. Where does this leave Christ? I would first venture to say that Christ Jesus loves every single human, and all of his creation. We are all God’s children. We have often committed errors, and made mistakes, yet he still loves us. But Christ in this instance must weep at the impropriety of those who call themselves Christian and adhere to the Trumpist fantasy. They used to say “Trump defends life, so I voted for him.” But he didn’t defend life when he minimized the importance of the pandemic in 2020, even though he attended a rally of pro-life Christians. He didn’t defend life when he became the president with more executions on his hands than any prior president. But these Christians are oblivious to these facts, are distracted by his glamor, and can’t see their way to change their minds even when all their political aspirations are turning to dust. They have been poisoned by Trump’s lies, by their own political ambitions, and by their failure to understand how to research objectively. Besides Pat Robertson, I am only hearing a few fringe personalities repent of their mistakes here. The false prophets are doubling down, or changing the story to distract us from the disaster that was their false prophesy of Trump’s win in 2020. Charisma magazine put up a story that was a thinly veiled attempt to change the story line from Trump to “we accept black people.” But Charisma is complicit in the idiocy. Have any of them repented? I don’t know. It is hard to tolerate such lack of introspection, reflection, and self care. They think they are serving Christ, but it really looks like they are living the fantasy.

Believe without evidence

One of the sharpest criticisms brought by the old and new atheists in the modern dialog is that Christians believe without evidence. I don’t think that’s true, of course, but the atheists do not take the personal testimony of interaction with God as evidence at all because it is not physical, or scientifically reproducible. I do. But Christians have given ample evidence that they really do believe without evidence. They take the Bible as true, infallible, and without error, but they interpret it with a clumsy casualness that belies the strength of their faith. They have not advanced beyond reader-response interpretations to a much wider and well corroborated interpretation. They don’t recognize the history of interpretation, or the wide variety of schools of interpretation, nor can they wrestle with the varied implications of those interpretations. They never even get as far as the ancient rabbis who wrote the Talmud. In deference to the Christians in this amniotic state, the atheists don’t get it right either when they take the facile theology of these believers as compelling reasons to reject Christianity. It’s as if this brand of Christian and the atheists are all vying for points in a scholarly contest that has not been introduced to St. Augustine, St. Thomas, Barth, or McGrath, as if they read the Scriptures with the lazy inattention of a rebellious schoolboy. They do not acknowledge the great strides in human culture that emerge from the Judeo/Christian Scriptures, nor do they understand the particulars of ancient culture, so that they may understand the Scriptures as written in a place and a time different from our own. Anachronisms rising from this are built into their interpretations, and provide no insight for living or understanding of reality.

Conclusion

Following this line to the political conflict exacerbated by the New Republicans, the lazy inattention of their chosen commentators is full of self contradiction, and misguided anger. They don’t understand what they reject, nor do they have good reason to adopt what they believe. They have simply fallen into obvious traps prepared for the unaware. As the proverb says: It is futile to lay a snare in the sight of any bird. The birds are smarter than to fall prey to obvious traps. But these people, well forewarned by Jesus and the prophets, have fallen headlong into the obvious traps. Can they be rescued? Yes, of course, but they, like the dwarves in C. S. Lewis’s Last Battle after having entered in through the stable door to the afterlife, are infinitely suspicious of anyone or anything that would try to persuade them that they are safe and can go higher up and further in to God’s great forever, rejecting reality, as the New Republicans have done. They will proceed no further. The rest of us will move on with the blot on our nation’s record accounted for, mourned, and taught as a cautionary tale for the enduring future. Hopefully then, the New Republicans, will fade in luster, importance, and public visibility. We can go about our business without the scare tactics and the bluster.

Have all the problems disappeared with a Biden Presidency? No, of course not, but patient effort, even with the obstructive efforts of the New Republicans, will win out. And though all the problems Americans face will not disappear, it is time to vote with a wider awareness of what that vote implies, where it will lead us. It is time to abandon loyalty that has no good ground, to avoid being swindled by profit-takers, carnival barkers, and mountebanks; to demand the truth in our relations, in politics, and the news, to check assiduously for errors, to avoid the movement toward tyranny, and advance all people equally in their role as citizens.

1 Wired Magazine, accessed 6/12/2021, https://www.wired.com/story/faces-of-the-riot-capitol-insurrection-facial-recognition/

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