Do Republicans Believe In Democracy? Have They Ever?

It’s a legitimate question. Especially given their response to the 2020 election.

Instead of accepting the fact that Biden won by an overwhelming margin and conducting a self-examination of their policies, Republicans have chosen to believe Trump’s big lie that the election was “stolen.” That is simply not true as confirmed by more than 60 court cases filed by the Trump campaign that found there was no evidence of voting improprieties. Georgia? Led by the Republican Secretary of State, two recounts confirmed Biden’s win. Arizona? The state has long had one of the secure election processes in the US. Pennsylvania? Biden won the state by more than 34,000 votes. What’s more, federal election officials, including Trump appointees, issued a joint statement that the 2020 election was the “most secure in American history.”

So what is the Republican response? They’re dead set on counting and recounting the votes until they like the results. As if that’s not enough, they’ve set about making it more difficult for minorities and Democrats to vote by restricting early voting, mail-in voting, poll hours, poll locations, and instituting new ID requirements. In some states, they’ve introduced bills to limit the powers of Democratic Secretaries of State and County Recorders. And, in Georgia, they even passed a law making it illegal to provide water to those waiting in line to vote!

All of this is despite the fact that in many of those states and districts, down ballot Republicans won their elections. So why would Democrats “rig” the presidential election while permitting other Republicans to win? It simply does not make sense!

This isn’t the first time Republicans have been at odds with democracy.

In the 1950s, Republicans led by Senator Joe McCarthy, suspended the civil rights of thousands of Americans who were accused of having attended a communist rally, listened to a socialist speaker, or even reported on them. They “blacklisted” hundreds of Americans, causing them their reputations and their livelihoods.

In 1960, without evidence, Republicans screamed that the election was rigged for JFK.

In 1968, Republican candidate Richard M. Nixon sent envoys to the Paris peace talks between the US and Vietnam asking the Vietnamese to delay the talks until after the election to improve his election chances. He won. But, as a result, the war continued another 2-1/2 years and thousands more died. And, in 1972, Republican incumbent Nixon subverted the election by ordering his “plumbers” group to break into the Democratic National Committee’s offices to steal information on his opponent.

Following Nixon’s example, in 1980, Republican candidate Ronald Reagan undermined hostage negotiations between Iran and the Carter administration promising Iranians a better deal if they delayed the hostages’ release until after the election. Several years later, Reagan secretly sold US-made weapons to Iran in exchange for funding for a secret war conducted by the Central American Contras.

In 2000, the conservative majority of Supreme Court, stopped the recount in Florida and awarded the election to Republican George W. Bush. A consortium of media later confirmed that a significant majority of Floridians intended to vote for Al Gore. But Gore’s victory was undermined by Governor Jeb Bush and the Republican Secretary of State who purged thousands of voters from voting rolls in Democratic majority counties. As a result, despite winning the popular vote, Gore fell 5 electoral votes short of Bush.

In 2016, Republican candidate Donald J. Trump used polling information and strategies stolen from the DNC, DCCC, and the Hillary Clinton campaign in addition to a large disinformation campaign orchestrated by Russians to defeat Clinton by narrow margins in four key states. Trump lost the popular vote by more than 3 million.

And, despite losing the 2020 election by more than 7-1/2 million votes and 74 electoral votes (an electoral margin Trump called a landslide in 2016), Trump enflamed his supporters and aimed them at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 to stop the certification of the vote. Though the violent insurrection failed, Trump and his most virulent Republican supporters continue to call for the violent overthrow of our duly elected government. Trump’s former National Security Advisor and convicted felon, Gen. Michael Flynn, even called for a Myanmar-style military coup at a QAnon gathering last week.

It’s clear that, as long as the Republican Party exists in its current form, our democracy is in extreme jeopardy.

Jan. 6 Commission Vote Explains Why Bipartisanship Is A Myth.

Most Americans continue to call for bipartisanship in the US Congress. But it has become as elusive as UFOs, Bigfoot, and the mythical unicorn. First, let’s note that the “bi” in bipartisanship denotes the participation of two parties. Unfortunately, for at least the past 12 years, one party has been largely absent. Sure, the Republicans have been more than happy to demand a voice in any bill the Democrats put forward. For example, as Congress was debating the Affordable Care Act, Republicans offered hundreds of amendments to the bill, and Democrats accepted hundreds of them in hopes of gaining Republican support. But, when it came to the final vote, not a single Republican voted for the bill in the House or the Senate.

That set a pattern that continues to this day.

Senate GQP (Grand QAnon Party) leader, Moscow Mitch McConnell has stated repeatedly that his primary goal is to stop the Democratic agenda at any cost. When Republicans are in the minority, he repeatedly calls for bipartisanship. But when Democrats have control, he ramrods through Republican bills and nominations at record speeds, decrying any attempts at negotiation as obstruction. One need look no further than McConnell’s actions on the Senate Supreme Court confirmations of Merrick Garland and Amy Coney-Barrett to confirm his hypocrisy and his contempt for bipartisanship.

As if those two examples are not enough to make the point, consider the recent votes on a bill calling for a bipartisan commission to investigate the insurrection of January 6. After Democrats agreed to each of the House Republican’s demands, both parties announced that they had reached a deal on May 14, 2021. Then, on May 18, the day before the bill was to come up for a vote, House GQP leader Kevin McCarthy announced his opposition to the bill. And hours before the House vote, Moscow Mitch followed suit. As a result, only 35 Republican House members broke ranks to vote in favor of creating the commission.

The fate of the commission now hangs in the balance in the Senate where, given the filibuster, 10 Republicans will have to demonstrate their independence from Moscow Mitch and vote for bipartisanship. Unfortunately, that is very unlikely.

One can’t help but compare the GQP to Lucy in the Peanuts cartoon series and Democrats to Charlie Brown. Despite assurances that they will hold the football this time, the GQP continues to withdraw support at the last instant, leaving Democrats to whiff and fall onto their backsides. Though contrary to their instincts and their desire for the kind of bipartisanship needed to solve our nation’s problems, it’s time for Democrats to give Republicans a dose of their own medicine.

Bipartisanship is not possible now that one of the parties has become a belligerent and autocratic cult.

Stop Calling Senator Joe Manchin A Centrist!

For more than 40 years, the Republican Party has moved further and further to the right until 2020 when it dived right off the political spectrum into a delusional abyss. What once was a political party that believed in free markets and fiscal restraint has, over time, become anti-government, anti-immigrant, anti-abortion, white nationalist, pro-gun, pro-violence, and pro-fascist. And, since 2016, it has become a cult of Trump – the willing accomplices of a conman and crime boss.

By contrast, since the 1950’s, the Democratic Party has experienced relatively little change. It has long believed in the power of government to do good. To help people by providing safety nets, retirement funds, healthcare access, and social justice. Unlike the GQP, it believes in protecting working people from predatory corporations and the wealthy. It promotes worker safety, living wages, freedom, human rights, and democracy. And it holds fast to the principles of the Constitution. (The real Constitution. Not some 18th Century interpretation conflating the Constitution with the Articles of Confederation.)

As you can see, there really is no middle ground.

With such a gaping canyon between the two parties, what is there to negotiate? What is the compromise between fascism and democracy? Between discrimination and compassion? Between dying and living?

How then can anyone, like Manchin, claim to be a centrist? Clearly, what Manchin has become is a self-serving obstructionist. A pawn the GQP can use to stop any form of progress. By refusing to consider ending, or even modifying, the filibuster, Manchin and his sidekick, Kyrsten Sinema, stand in opposition to voting rights, racial justice, gender equality, a thriving economy, a healthy environment, and a healthy climate.

If you want a term that more accurately describes Manchin, I’d recommend “opportunist” because he’s relishing his newfound attention and power. Or, if you’d prefer a term that describes his political ideology, I’d suggest “conservative.” He more accurately fits in that category than the GQP politicians who long ago abandoned it.

Turning Point.

The threat of losing our democracy in the US did not end on January 6th. Republicans insist the 2020 election is not over. Not by a long shot.

Never mind that the Trump campaign lost more than 60 court cases to overturn 2020 election results, including in courts ruled by Trump appointees. Disregard the fact that Trump lost numerous recounts. Forget the fact that Biden accumulated over 7 million more votes than Trump. Ignore the fact that the few examples of voter fraud were committed by Republicans.

In a true democracy, that would be enough to force a political party to accept defeat. But Republicans no longer care about preserving our democracy. Having failed at their many attempts to overturn a free and fair election, including a violent insurrection aimed at murdering Democrats and holding congressional representatives hostage until they agreed to reinstall Trump in the Oval Office, it is abundantly clear that Republicans only care about winning. Winning at any cost.

So here we are on the precipice of becoming a failed democracy. A nation in which some citizens, based on the color of their skin and the size of their bank accounts, have long found it difficult to vote. A nation in which the vote of a resident of Wyoming counts nearly four times that of a California resident. A nation in which millions of residents of Washington, D.C. have no representation. A nation in which legislative and congressional districts are created to ensure that only Republicans can win them.

Yet, despite their advantages, neither of the last two Republican presidents won a majority of the popular vote.

As the Republican Party strayed further and further from reality, as its policies became increasingly unpopular, it resorted to fear tactics. Fear of the other. It created a propaganda network to constantly attack Democrats. It pandered to corporations, sponsoring legislation written by the secretive ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council). It pandered to evangelical Christians by demonizing abortion and promoting discrimination. It pandered to millionaires and billionaires by promoting tax cuts and looking the other way as they exploited tax shelters to protect their wealth. And it embraced violent militias and white supremacists.

Now, having recognized that its structural advantages and dirty money are no longer enough to win, the party has decided to attack democracy itself. In 49 of our 50 states, Republicans have introduced legislation designed to make voting more difficult, especially for black and brown people and the working poor. And, in Arizona, the Republican-led legislature has engineered an audit of the 2020 vote, using a questionable company led by a conspiracy theorist. While denying access to the process by journalists and impartial observers, and by questionable procedures including ultraviolet lights and photographic scans of ballots, they hope to prove their previously announced claim: The election was stolen. If they do, Republicans are certain to conduct similar audits in other states with the goal of claiming that Biden is an illegitimate president.

Given Republican attempts to engineer elections and their results, it has become abundantly clear that Congress must pass bills to recognize the District of Columbia as a state and to create national standards for elections, improving voter registration and voting access while protecting election integrity.

Our democracy hangs in the balance.

The “Both Sides Are At Fault” Myth.

Faced with the political climate in our country, it’s popular for media and individuals to blame both Republicans and Democrats alike. As the story goes, the division is driven by the extreme wings of both parties.

Really?

Consider this: One party promotes policies. The other promotes hatred and fear. One party wants more people to exercise their right to vote. The other wants to make voting more difficult. One party embraces diversity. The other wants to suppress it. One party wants to pass laws to end gun violence. The other wants to pass laws to sell more guns. One party wants to end discrimination. The other promotes it. One party focuses on policies to make lives easier. The other focuses on conspiracy theories. One party wants equal justice. The other wants authoritarianism.

One party looks out for the poor. The other looks out for the wealthy. One party wants to increase wages for working families. The other wants to increase corporate returns. One party wants to make products and workplaces safer. The other wants to end regulations. One party wants to eliminate corruption. The other party excuses it. One party believes in science. The other party denies it. One party believes its opponents are wrong on policy. The other party believes its opponents are socialist, communist, and/or cannibalistic pedophiles. One party believes in democracy. The other does not.

When Democrats lost a presidential election, they believed was stolen, they accepted the Court’s ruling for the good of the country. When Republicans lost a presidential election they believed was stolen, they descended on our capitol in open and violent insurrection.

While the Democratic Party has steadfastly remained the party of equality and social justice. The “Party of Lincoln” has become the party of hate.

Republicans have excused and encouraged violence by armed militias, white supremacists, and other hate groups. At the urging of Republicans, OAN, Fox News, NewsMax, and talk radio have become open sewers of misinformation, disinformation, and hateful rhetoric. Based on Republican promises to end abortion, evangelical Christian churches have abandoned the teachings of their namesake to push cruel and discriminatory policies. Under Republican leadership, the US Congress packed the courts, corrupted the Census, and perpetuated thousands of lies.

So, spare me the bs that both parties are at fault. The Democrat and Republican parties are not the same. Not even close.

America’s Racism On Full (And Constant) Display.

Even as the world is transfixed by the Derek Chauvin trial in Minnesota (a trial to decide if Chauvin was guilty of murdering George Floyd), we continue to see other examples of police abuse of black and brown people. In the past few days, video evidence of police mistreating a black man in a military uniform has come to light. And, while Americans were still recoiling in horror at seeing police pepper spray and cuff the man at gunpoint over his supposed failure to display a temporary vehicle license, we saw a young black man shot and killed by a white policewoman over expired license tags and an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror.

Unfortunately, such events have become increasingly common.

In Texas, a young black woman named Sandra Bland died in jail over failure to signal a lane change. In Ohio, a young black man named John Crawford III was shot and killed by police in a Walmart for carrying a BB gun he intended to purchase. In California, it took police 10 seconds to shoot and kill a 13-year-old Latino who was carrying a pellet gun. Likewise, it took police just seconds to kill a 12-year-old black boy for playing with a toy gun in a Cleveland park. In Phoenix, a 14-year-old Latino was shot and killed while holding an air soft gun. In Detroit, a 13-year-old black boy named Tamir Rice was killed for playing with an air soft gun.

In Georgia, a black man named Ahmaud Arbery was hunted and killed by a former police officer and his armed friends while jogging. And, in Kentucky, a black woman named Breona Taylor was shot and killed in the middle of the night in her own home while police were executing a no-knock warrant.

To our nation’s great shame, the number of such examples are far too numerous and far too widespread to list. Yet, despite the publicity and efforts to hold police accountable, the number of events has not diminished. Indeed, they seem to be increasing. And far too many Americans look to blame the victims rather than the officers. They dig through the victims’ criminal history, their drug use, their failure to comply with officers’ unreasonable demands.

By contrast, we see white people treated much differently by police.

Just months after a peaceful crowd of Black Lives Matter protestors were confronted with excessive violence by large numbers of police and National Guard while peacefully protesting in Washington, DC, the almost entirely white crowd of violent insurrectionists who invaded the Capitol were able to overwhelm an undermanned and under-equipped police presence. Even after hours of mayhem and destruction, which resulted in 5 deaths and injuries to more than 140 police officers, the combatants were allowed to simply walk away. In fact, some police actually offered a helping hand to insurrectionists so they could descend the steps and bleachers without injury!

The white insurrectionists resorted to violence based on the lie that the election was stolen from their preferred presidential candidate despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Imagine what those same people might do if they believed they were unfairly stopped for minor traffic offenses; if they were subjected to humiliating searches and excessive fines; if they were subjected to excessive force; or if they were killed for a misdemeanor. Imagine if their communities tended to dismiss their complaints and, instead, displayed signs supporting the police. Imagine, if every time they went to court, their entire lives were put under a microscope in search of any past transgression that could be used against them. Imagine if they found it more difficult to find a job than others. Imagine if they were paid less. Imagine, if they were underrepresented in Congress, in state legislatures, on city councils, on police staffs, and it courts. Imagine if draconian laws were put in place to make it more difficult for them to vote. And imagine if that treatment continued for generations.

Then, and only then, would they have an understanding of what it would be like to be part of a minority.

The sad truth is, in the US, equality simply does not exist. Not for black and brown people. Not for Asian and Pacific Islanders. Not for immigrants. Not for Native Americans. Not for women. Not for people of different sexual persuasions. Not for people of different religions.

It is long past time for that to change. It must change if our ongoing experiment with democracy is to survive!

Political Party Turned Death Cult.

For many decades, the Republican Party portrayed itself as the right-to-life party in order to gain the support of conservative Christians. Indeed, the party even went so far as to prioritize the life of a fetus over the life of the woman carrying it and the lives of medical personnel willing to abort it.

Yet, as Republicans have continued to fight for the unborn, they have largely turned their backs on the living. They have seemed all too willing to let children go hungry or be consigned to a failing foster system in which children are too often abused and shuttled from home to home. As a result, a significant percentage of those who populate our prison system are products of our foster system.

Further evidence of Republicans’ disdain for the living could be seen as they cheered on the previous administration as it ripped apart families at our borders, caged children, and deported refugees to certain misery and death.

Within the past year, Republicans seem to have taken their distaste for the living to an entirely new level. Many refused to take the necessary steps to control the pandemic by wearing masks. Many attended so-called “super spreader” events against the best advice of scientists. Those actions directly contributed to the deaths of more than 525,000 Americans. They also strained our hospitals to the breaking point.

Now, with an end to the pandemic in sight, Republican governors are prematurely dropping mask mandates and opening up their states’ economies. And a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 28 percent of Republicans will refuse to be vaccinated against Covid-19. The poll also found that another 18 percent will “wait and see” before getting a shot.

Wait and see? For what? For their orange messiah to tell them the pandemic is not a hoax? For him to admit, that without quick medical intervention, he might have died? To admit that, on his way out of office, he and his family were vaccinated in secret?

Have these Republicans not seen the videos of Americans dying in such numbers that their bodies are held in refrigerated trucks waiting for burial? Have they not seen interviews with medical personnel suffering from PTSD after caring for so many dead and dying? Have they not lost a friend or family member to Covid-19? Have they not encountered any of the long haulers who are still suffering from the disease months after being first diagnosed?

By refusing to be vaccinated, Republicans are revealing themselves as members of a death cult. A death cult that seems to value fetuses, guns, discrimination, the stock market, and tax cuts for the rich and powerful more than human lives. A death cult that prioritizes corporations over children, profits over people.

If millions of Republicans refuse to be vaccinated as claimed, they could prevent our population from reaching herd immunity potentially resulting in tens of thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, more deaths. Worse, their obstinance could allow the virus to continue to spread and mutate, thus rendering the new vaccines useless and forcing all of us to endure another year or more of deaths and disruption.

Have Republicans Confused Democracy For Democrats?

Republicans and Democrats have long been political rivals. But, beginning in the 1980s, Republicans began to view Democrats as enemies…as over-educated elitists hell-bent on destroying America. More recently, the GQP (Grand QAnon Party) has created a narrative that Democrats are evil…part of an international cabal of pedophiles and cannibals.

That was bad enough. But thanks to Trump and his propaganda network, the GQP now seems to have conflated Democrats and democracy believing they both must be defeated at all costs. A majority of Republicans have been convinced that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. With absolutely no evidence to support the claim, they believe that their own state election officials are lying and that millions of illegal votes were cast for Biden. Never mind that Republicans gained seats in those same states.

Are we supposed to believe that the election was rigged for Biden, but not for other Democratic candidates?

Not satisfied by facts or reason, the GQP is now determined to undermine our electoral system to make sure that no Democrat can ever be elected again. Since the first of this year, the GQP has introduced more than 100 bills in 28 states to make it more difficult for Democrats, especially those of color, to vote. A report by the Brennan Center for Justice states, “These proposals primarily seek to: (1) limit mail voting access; (2) impose stricter voter ID requirements; (3) limit successful pro-voter registration policies; and (4) enable more aggressive voter roll purges.” And these proposals are on top of dozens of existing measures intended to disenfranchise voters.

For example, in Arizona, the GQP House proposed a bill that would have purged an estimated 100,000 voters from the state’s early voting lists. And though the vast majority of Arizonans happily vote by mail, GQP lawmakers want to make it more difficult. One bill would require voters to have their signatures on mail-in ballots notarized. Another bill would make mail-in ballots one-way. The county elections offices would mail out ballots. But voters could not return the ballots by mail. And yet another bill would make it illegal for anyone to conduct voter registration drives but county elections officials.

In Georgia, another state that Trump lost by a narrow margin, the GQP introduced nine bills to make it more difficult to vote, including ending automatic voter registration, doing away with no-excuse absentee voting, and eliminating mail ballot drop boxes. In other words, the GQP is saying, “If our candidates can’t win on merit, we’ll keep the supporters of their opponents from voting.”

That’s not only un-Democratic. It’s undemocratic.

Welcome To The GQP.

No, that is not a typo. The Republican Party, once led by Abraham Lincoln who held the Union together and emancipated slaves, by Theodore Roosevelt who broke up corporate monopolies and established National Parks, and by Dwight D. Eisenhower who led the defeat of Hitler and helped build America’s middle class, has become the party of bizarre, and delusional, conspiracy theories – the Grand QAnon Party (GQP). Once dedicated to fiscal conservation, the party is now dedicated to conserving white power, institutional racism, and the massive wealth of billionaires.

Instead of constitutionalists, it’s led by radical insurrectionists dedicated only to gaining and retaining power.

The change didn’t happen overnight. It began when the wealthy in the John Birch Society began using their resources to elect compliant officials. It took root with the nurturing of “Christian” evangelicals who selectively used Bible verses to justify discrimination against minorities and to use so-called social issues to gain political power. It grew more radical under the watch of Newt Gingrich who, as Speaker of the House, demanded complete unity and fealty of his caucus on the penalty of being “primaried.” Its members became increasingly dangerous and delusional under the tutelage of the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Jeanine Pirro, and Alex Jones. The Internet and social media allowed the infection to spread unchecked. And the asylum doors were thrown open by Donald J. Trump.

In the 1970s, we saw Richard Nixon divide the nation and undermine our electoral process with the burglary at Watergate. In the 1980s, we saw Ronald Reagan destroy the middle class with his Trickle Down Economics and circumvent the Constitution and Congress with the Iran-Contra affair. In the 2000s, we saw George W. Bush use falsehoods and disinformation to lead us into war. In 2010, we saw members of the Tea Party lie and bully their way into Congress and threaten to shut down our government unless they got their way. In 2014, we saw congressmen and legislators run to the side of Cliven Bundy and his militia who had aimed their weapons at government officials acting on a legal court order. Beginning in 2016, we saw racism and corruption on full display at the highest levels of our government. We saw our president playing footsie with our nation’s enemies at the same time he verbally attacked our military heroes. And, on January 6, we saw the inevitable result of conspiracy theories, hate, racism and a violent sense of privilege run amok.

That shameful event – the worst attack on democracy in our nation’s history – should result in those who inspired the attack being sentenced to prison. It should result in all members of the GQP paying a steep political price. It should end with Marjorie Taylor-Greene, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Lauren Boebert, Paul Gosar, Andy Biggs, Matt Gaetz, Jim Jordan, Kevin McCarthy, Mitch McConnell and others of the Sedition Caucus being removed from office. But it likely won’t.

Instead, we will almost certainly see Donald J. Trump acquitted by GQP members of the Senate. Not because he is innocent of the charges. But because a majority of them still wish to curry favor with their treasonous autocratic leader.

It’s clear that we are now perched on the precipice of a second Civil War. But this time, the division isn’t over slavery. It’s over reason and truth.

Why InfoWars, The NRA, Rightwing Media, And The GOP Should Be Labeled Terrorist Organizations.

Following the insurrection at the Capitol, the FBI classified the Proud Boys as a terrorist group. Even prior to the attack on our democracy, the FBI warned Congress of the threat posed by domestic terrorists. But no one in the Trump administration or in the GOP seemed to listen. Why? Because they had been inspiring domestic terrorists for many years.

Indeed, I believe the violent insurrection of January 6, was the inevitable result of decades of racist, anti-Democrat, anti-government rhetoric.

For example, the GOP reached out to white supremacists as early as the 1960s. The so-called southern strategy was to embrace southern racists who were unhappy with Democrats following passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Racists have been a reliable part of the Republican base ever since.

In 1968, Nixon and Agnew ran as “law and order” candidates as a way of courting white voters. (Ironic isn’t it, given their own crimes?) In 1980, Ronald Reagan served up racist dog whistles to assure southern support. And, by ending the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, he made the rightwing propaganda network possible, opening the airwaves to people like Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Mark Levin, Jeanine Pirro, Sean Hannity, and others to spout anti-government, anti-immigrant, and anti-Democrat hate 24/7. As more Americans tuned in to their hateful rants, the GOP lurched further and further to the extreme right. But not even those hatemongers could have envisioned what was to come.

Once Alex Jones entered the arena in 1999, the Republican Party began its descent into the dark sewers of politics. Jones used his InfoWars radio platform to peddle bizarre conspiracy theories and mostly worthless junk. InfoWars made Jones rich. But it also incited the lunatic fringe, which by then had become the base of the Republican Party. He claimed President Obama was a foreign-born Muslim terrorist. He dismissed mass shootings, including the slaughter of children at Sandy Hook Elementary, as “false flag” events staged by Democrats and liberals in order to institute gun control measures. He claimed a US military training exercise in the Southwest was an Obama plot to institute Sharia law. A master of getting attention, he further convinced his followers that Democrats and liberals were the root of all their problems; that they were actively trying to destroy America.

The rhetoric of Jones and the rest of the Republican propaganda network led to a series of angry confrontations between elected officials and armed Tea Partiers at Town Hall Meetings. It likely inspired the armed confrontation between the Oath Keepers and Bureau of Land Management officers at Cliven Bundy’s “ranch.” It almost certainly led to the armed standoff at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

These events seemed to serve as preliminaries for the insurrection to come and ushered in the presidency of Donald J. Trump.

From the time Trump descended his faux gold escalator to announce his candidacy, he pandered to racists by labeling immigrants as rapists, murderers, and thugs. And by calling for an end to political correctness, he was emboldening white supremist groups that were inclined to violence. In cities and towns nationwide, people of color were subjected to verbal and physical abuse as never before. People were berated, told to go back to where they came from, and beaten or killed. Brown babies were ripped from their parents’ arms and thrown in cages. Refugees from predominately black and brown countries were banned from entry. The violence of the racist mob in Charlottesville was dismissed by Trump stating there were “fine people on both sides.” Black Lives Matter protestors were called “very bad people” and “thugs.” And the almost mythical Antifa (short for Antifascists) was called worse.

Throughout, the NRA has continued to provide arms to potential terrorists and insurrectionists under the guise of freedom. Acting as a carnival barker for the gun industry, it pushed for more permissive gun laws and ever more lethal weaponry as a “guard against tyranny.” It made violent militias such as the Proud Boys, the Boogaloo Bois, the Oath Keepers, QAnon, and others possible. And it supported the campaigns of increasingly anti-American GOP candidates such as Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Paul Gosar, Andy Biggs, Debbie Lesko, Jay Jordan, Matt Gaetz, Josh Hawley, Lauren Boebert, and Marjorie Taylor Greene.

All of these people and organizations, as well as the billionaires who fund them, set the stage for the violent attempt to overthrow our democracy in favor of an autocracy to be led by president-for-life Trump.

Trump and his GOP enablers called his electoral defeat the result of fraudulent voting. They incited their violent followers to overturn the election using rightwing media as their megaphone. They told them to fight, to march to the Capitol and take back their country. Alex Jones and others called for a civil war against liberals and Democrats. And those who were inspired to attack the Capitol and Congress, were armed by guns made available by the NRA.

They are terrorists, plain and simple, who have caused more harm to Americans than al-Qaeda, ISIS and the Taliban combined. If they were Muslim or a foreign-based terrorist group, we would be readying drone strikes or preparing for all-out war. Instead, Republicans are asking us to move on, to simply forgive and forget. That is not only unrealistic. It’s unthinkable. All of them should and must be held accountable.