Ever since Donald Trump planted himself in the Republican Party like a stinkweed in a field of bullshit, cowardice has stalked the GOP. No one called Republicans “cowards” for raising Ronald Reagan to near sainthood. Love him or hate him, Reagan was a conservative idealogue peddling a feel-good city on a hill. Quite a product. You could call Reaganites greedy, piggish, priggish, arrogant and wrong-headed, but you couldn’t call them “cowards”. For the record, the FBI never even considered raiding Reagan’s home after he was POTUS but when he was still alive because he’d absconded with classified documents he intended to sell. Donald Trump did that. And Republicans defend him. That makes it simple: Republicans aren’t cowards, they’re co-conspirators.
There’s a difference.
Genesis Of A Conspiracy
Let’s put a moment in time under the microscope. June 25, 2016. It’s a month before the Republican Party will formally nominate Trump to be their candidate. They don’t have to surrender to this outsider. They still have time to do something. To be “courageous”. Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy leaves a meeting about Ukraine – and Russian attempts to subvert it’s democratically elected government – and walks into a meeting of GOP leaders. “There’s two people I think Putin pays,” says McCarthy upon entering, “Rohrbacher and Trump – swear to God!”
This moment was reported almost a year later in the Washington Post by Adam Entous. Entous had heard a recording of the entire meeting! I don’t know if anyone there knew about the recording aside from the person doing the recording. I can’t imagine they did. They said some pretty damning things. Well, then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan said some damning things.
McCarthy Doubles Down
The reason McCarthy threw in “Swear to God!” was because his claim drew nervous laughter. “Swear to God” was McCarthy doubling down on his claim – not backing off. “Putin pays Trump”. That was what Kevin McCarthy said after leaving a meeting about Putin and Ukraine. To the Republican Party’s LEADERSHIP.
Nobody questioned McCarthy. Or doubted him. No one said “Whoah – Kevin, dude, are you sure about that? Jesus, what even put such a crazy idea into your head?” No one whipped out their cell phone and said “Holy shit, we better get the FBI into this”. Nervous laughter. That’s what McCarthy drew after asserting that Donald Trump – the man the GOP was about to nominate to be POTUS – posed a grave national security threat.
Paul Ryan Puts Down A Marker
Enter Paul Ryan. He stepped forward and put a stamp on the moment and on everyone there. More than anyone else, he bore the responsibilities of his oath because his office put such awesome power within his personal reach. Ryan should have been the one with cell phone in hand, FBI ringing on the other end. Instead, Ryan put an end to the conversation. He “instructed his Republican lieutenants to keep the conversation private, saying: “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.”
By “family”, Ryan meant “Mafia family”. Or Manson family.
Here’s where the distinction kicks in between coward and co-conspirator. Most cowardice is inaction in the face of something that demands action. While Ryan was advocating silence – inaction – because he was pushing silence as a collective response, that made it a conspiracy. Worst of all, Ryan’s knowing silence was his party’s response to America facing an imminent existential threat.
Why Say Nothing?
See something, say something. See something, say nothing? We need to ask why – under oath.
While cowardice may have driven most Republicans toward co-conspiracy, it was just one of many factors. In other words, there’s nothing wrong with calling Republicans “cowards”. It’s not inaccurate or undeserved. But, calling them cowards misses a significant chunk of what makes Republicans “Republican”. Republicans, as we know, are great at marching in lock step with each other. Democrats, not so much.
Democrats are still every bit the party Will Rogers described this way: “I’m not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat!” That’s what happens when you’re the party of diversity. It’s hard to get so many different people to do exactly the same thing. But then, that’s America, too. It’s hard to get us all to do exactly the same thing.
America’s genius – the thing that truly makes us exceptional: diversity. As James Madison put it (on our Great Seal and as our motto): “E pluribus Unum”. Out of many, one. America was and is the first-ever “nation of nations”. Why would anyone want to destroy that? Alas, the answer to that question is: racists and racism.
Permanent Minority Rule
The Republican Party would, too. That’s the problem! When you’ve made cultural hegemony your goal, nothing less will do. Make no mistake, permanent minority rule is the GOP’s ultimate goal. No one will achieve that goal by sitting on their ass, doing nothing. It’s gonna take a little teamwork.
Like I said: defining moment. Republican aren’t cowards, they’re co-conspirators.