The Republican Party's New Motto: "Legitimate Political Discourse"
Yesterday, CNN reported that American fascist Steve Bannon and Russian plant Boris Epshteyn went after Mike Pence on Bannon's propaganda podcast. Bannon to Pence on his statement that Trump's theory behind stealing the election was wrong: "You’re gonna carry this thing eventually to your grave, OK, because it is a mark of shame and you are a stone-cold coward, a stone cold coward... My head in blowing up here; I can't take Pence and Marc Short and all these coke guys up there rattin' out Trump on Capitol Hill right now." (Did he say "coke guys?" "Koch guys?" I assume that isn't a reference to Don, Jr. or Newsom's ex.)
And it isn't just Bannon and Epshteyn furiously stoking the flames of sedition in the country. The editors of the very conservative National Review admonished the RNC over the weekend calling the decision to censure Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger "both morally repellent and politically self-destructive,' noting that "The action of the mob on January 6 was an indefensible disgrace. It is deserving of both political accountability and criminal prosecution. Aspects of it are also fit subjects for a properly conducted congressional inquiry. It is wrong to minimize or excuse what happened that day. Republicans who did nothing to encourage the mob-- and there are many such Republicans-- need not wear a hair shirt over January 6, but when they choose to talk about it, they should tell the unsparing truth. We commend the example of Mike Pence... There is also no conceivable political benefit to the Republican Party or its members-- other than Donald Trump-- in looking to defend or minimize January 6 rather than simply move on... The RNC bought the entire party a bounty of bad headlines and easy attack ads. It did so for no good purpose, and its action will only encourage those who see riots as legitimate political discourse. A mistake, and worse, a shame."
If you think the National Review was harsh, just read what Dan Pfeiffer had to say about the RNC's lunkheaded claim that the violent 1/6 insurrection was "legitimate political discourse," which he pointed out shouldn't surprise anyone. But, he wrote "It’s easy to gloss over what the Republicans do in a Trumpian fog of outrage. But we need to be crystal clear about the meaning of this resolution. One of America’s two political parties passed an official resolution declaring a violent insurrection that led to deaths, assaults on police officers, and calls for the murder of politicians to be 'legitimate discourse.' The RNC is legitimizing political violence. Pure and simple.
The typical response to the latest Republican outrage is to shout “How are they getting away with this?” For most Democrats, that question is rhetorical. We naturally assume that they will get away with it because they get away with nearly everything else.
I understand the sentiment. The Republicans lied about the election, defended the insurrectionists, stuck by Trump, and pushed conspiracy theories on vaccines and masks, killing thousands of their voters. Yet, the oddsmakers consider them overwhelming favorites to regain power in November. Presuming Republicans will face no accountability for their actions guarantees they will remain unscathed. Authoritarians depend on convincing the public and the opposition that they are immune to consequences. Ultimately, the question of whether there is a political price to pay for officially declaring the violence of January 6th “legitimate political discourse” will be answered by the voters in November. The polling suggests Republicans have given Democrats an opening.
In the coming days, I imagine a number of polling outfits will specifically test the question of whether January 6th is “legitimate political discourse.”... To win in 2022, Democrats do not need to persuade a single Republican who believes the Big Lie. Four in 10 Republicans disagreeing with the idea that the 2020 election was illegitimate may even present a bit of an opportunity.
Second, voters overwhelmingly disapprove of the insurrection on January 6th. Data for Progress polled four swing districts and found that voters overwhelmingly disapproved of what happened at the Capitol. In no district did more than 15 percent of likely voters approve of the insurrection and in all of the districts at least 79 percent disapproved.
Finally, recent polling indicates that messages about Republican support for the Big Lie and culpability in the events of January 6th could be very effective. In the Data for Progress poll, strong majorities in these swing districts believe that voting against the certification of the 2020 election was a convincing reason to vote against the conspiracy theorists. Navigator Research tested a series of messages about Republicans, the Big Lie, and January 6th. Notably, these messages were quite effective with the Independent voters who Democrats desperately need to win back before November.
70 percent of Independents are concerned about Republicans spreading Donald Trump’s lies about the election; 73 percent are concerned about Republicans voting against investigating what happened; 74 percent are concerned about Republicans defending the people involved in the assault. This poll was conducted before Donald Trump offered pardons to insurrectionists, but I can guess how these Independents would react to that information.