Telling the truth on the GOP

Published September 8, 2022

By Thomas Mills

After Joe Biden’s speech in Philadelphia last week, Republicans screamed, probably a bit too loudly. They were outraged, calling Biden “divisive” and accusing him of “pitting his fellow Americans against each other.”  They had never heard a President of the United States say such mean things about them. And they acted as if Biden’s rhetoric was unprecedented. 

Just days before the speech, Biden called the GOP a “semi-fascist” party, which made Republicans howl almost as loudly as they did about his speech. And much of the criticism came from the media. In pointed interviews with Democrats, journalists accused Biden of being divisive. Elected Republicans said Biden owed all Republicans an apology. 

It’s almost like they forgot what it was like to have Donald Trump as president. Trump routinely called Democrats “socialists” and “communists” and Republicans in Congress still do. Trump even referred to “fascist Democrats.” Nobody ever asked him to apologize. I don’t remember reporters asking GOP elected officials if Trump’s statements were too divisive. 

No, that was just Donald Trump, they said, as if nobody took him seriously. Of course, his uneducated base not only believed him, they cheered him on while once responsible Republicans stayed silent. That’s the double standard in the media today and that’s the hypocrisy of the GOP. 

But there is a difference between what Donald Trump said and what Joe Biden said. While Trump’s rants were hyperbolic and rooted in apocalyptic fantasy, Joe Biden’s criticism of Republicans are rooted in truth. Republicans really did storm the Capitol hoping to overturn a presidential election. The Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, and other militias really are an armed wing of the GOP. Republican candidates really are running for office pledging to rig elections in favor of Republicans. Neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan really do consider themselves part of the Trump movement. And prominent Republicans really are rejecting the concept of democracy. 

Yesterday, the website FiveThirtyEight released an analysis that says more than half of the GOP candidates for Congress deny the legitimacy of the 2020 elections. Of those, 195 fully denied the results by taking action such as voting against certification of the results. Another 61 didn’t outright deny the results but questioned whether the election was legitimate without explicitly accepting the outcome. Another 115 refused to answer questions about whether or not they accepted the results. Only 158, or 30%, of GOP candidates accepted the results and more than half of those had reservations. 

In North Carolina, only one Republican, Patrick McHenry, fully accepted the results. Ted Budd accepted them with reservations. The rest denied the legitimacy of the election or refused to answer questions about it.  In other words, Republican candidates in North Carolina are more loyal to Donald Trump than the constitution. They are, as Joe Biden said, a threat to our democracy and our country. 

Not only have these candidates refused to accept the election results, most have refused to condemn Donald Trump for hording classified and secret information in an unsecure location. They’ve refused to condemn Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and other groups that have used or promoted political violence. They’ve refused to call the attack on the Capitol what it was, an attempted insurrection and failed coup. 

In fact, the current GOP supports, or at least tolerates, a whole lot of ideas that look a lot like fascism, or at the very least, authoritarianism. The presence of armed militias, the cult of personality that dominates the party, the threat of political violence, the rejection of democratic outcomes, and the emphasis on racial superiority, though, lean toward fascism. I think Biden was being generous. He just told the truth on the GOP.