Sometimes I wonder how much lower Republicans can sink, and the answer is always “there is no bottom.” They elected a dumb, incompetent, malignant conman. Stood by impassively while he played cock-holster to America’s most implacable autocratic foe. Protected him when he attempted to extort a vulnerable ally to cheat in a presidential election. Made excuses as he bungled a deadly pandemic that killed hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens. Protected him again when he incited the sacking of the U.S. Capitol Building, despite threats to their own safety when the horde of violent morons stormed Capitol Hill.
It looks like the next level of depravity will be valorizing those same violent morons and more actively peddling the Big Lie, thereby undermining democracy even further. Crackpots like AZ Rep. Gosar have already gone there, and after licking his loser-wounds in relative obscurity, Trump has taken the maximalist crackpot position at recent events, insinuating that jailed insurrectionists are being persecuted for political reasons and demanding the name of the cop who shot MAGA martyr Ashli Babbitt.
Josh Marshall at TPM wrote this about it yesterday:
One thing that was clear to me when I read about Trump’s comments on the January 6th defendants and the death of Ashli Babbitt is that he intends to make these claims and demands centerpieces of the 2022 midterm election. For Trump everything is the Big Lie, everything is the “rigged election”, which is to say everything is payback, retribution and grievance about being driven from power.
The insurrectionists are the symbols of grievance, the symbols of absolute loyalty to Trump and the angry and aggrieved victims who are at the center of every Trump political demand, every argument. They are inseparable from the Big Lie because they are the ones who fought hardest to vindicate Trump’s claims. They are the new version of the brawny but tearful factory workers calling Trump “Sir” and asking for justice. They are, in a word, the new mascots of Trumpism.
Marshall says mainstream Republicans would rather memory-hole the insurrection so they can focus on traditional culture war bullshit and screech hypocritically about government spending as they gear up for elections in 2022. Well, maybe. But traditional Republicans didn’t want Trump to be the nominee in 2016, and we saw how quickly and completely they fell in line.
To paraphrase something Kay has said about divining the hidden motivations of Republicans, it’s irrelevant. All that matters is their actions, and with a pitifully small number of exceptions, they’ve enabled Trump every step of the way. There’s no reason to think they’ll shrink from the next level of chaos and depravity. The usual handmaidens are already lining up to trivialize the attempted coup:
Florida is the state that has the most citizens arrested for the January 6 insurrection. Some fringe FL Republicans are holding a rally in Tallahassee this week to call for their release:
[T]his weekend, a handful of Florida Republican candidates will host a rally in Tallahassee calling for Gov. Ron DeSantis and others to put pressure on authorities to free the “political prisoners” of Jan. 6.
The “Free Our Patriots Rally in Tally” will be held this Saturday, July 10, and is hosted by Luis Miguel, a far-right Republican candidate looking to primary Sen. Marco Rubio. “Folks, The patriots who have been hunted down by the corrupt, communist FBI are suffering. Many of them are veterans who fought for this nation,” tweeted Miguel. “Let’s do our part to ensure they’re liberated. We can’t allow this in America. Be there at the Florida Capitol July 10.
The “Free Our Patriots” rally is likely to be treated as a curiosity if it gets any coverage at all. But unless the “mainstream” Republican Party has an unexpected break-up with its gross orange boyfriend, this crackpottery will soon be the official party line.
The potential upside? Maybe Republicans who peddle the Big Lie and valorize rioters will make it more likely that Democrats can defy history and hang onto the House and Senate in 2022. Trump will demand that Republicans embrace these delusions because his wounded ego demands evidence that he’s not the worthless loser and fraud he truly is, and there’s no reason to think Republicans won’t go along. They have with everything that came before, no matter how absurd and/or destructive.