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GOP Censures Free Thought, Conscience

The RNC censure of Cheney and Kinzinger was an unnecessary mistake, but in tune with our times
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I see that the Republican National Committee formally censured Reps. Cheney and Kinzinger for participating in the House inquiry into the January 6 assault on the Capitol. These parts of the censure document are appalling:


“Legitimate political discourse” is the term they use for the sacking of the US Capitol by the MAGA mob. Disgusting. And note in the first part, the party leaders openly and without any apparent sense of irony say that fighting for political victory is more important than anything else. This is wholly unprincipled, but I guess to be expected from the GOP. I never thought I would ever defend a Cheney, but the Republican Party calling the Jan. 6 attack “legitimate political discourse” did the trick.

I wish to associate myself with these sentiments:

Like these two, I don’t see the point in doing this. Whatever you think of Cheney and Kinzinger’s actions post January 6, to trouble yourself to formally censure them, to have gone on the record declaring that all you care about is achieving political power, not principle, and to describe the shocking sacking of the Capitol as “legitimate political discourse” is to declare yourself morally idiotic, it seems to me — but also politically stupid, as Bo Winegard points out. Why can one not be dedicated to GOP victories this fall while at the same time wanting to get to the bottom of what happened on January 6? Or, even if you think Cheney and Kinzinger should have stayed out of it, why go on record in this way at all? Do they have any idea how this appears to people, including conservatives, who are not communicants of the Church of MAGA? Who would like to see many of Trump’s populist and nationalist ideas translated into law and policy, but who are sick and tired of all the dumbass Trumpworld drama? Why can’t the RNC say that the Democrats’ apocalyptic construal of January 6 is silly, while not legitimizing the event itself?

I guess I’m naive about these things, but I don’t see how the RNC’s move is morally defensible. Some of those barbarians stated that they wanted to “hang Mike Pence” — yet, so mindless is the devotion to Donald Trump that the party’s senior leadership says that seeking to lynch the GOP vice president for not doing Trump’s illegal bidding amounts to legitimate political discourse.

I’m planning to vote Republican this fall even though I believe the January 6 events were a disgrace, that Trump deserved his second impeachment for his behavior on that day, and the Republican Party is a sad, stupid mess. It’s because I believe that the Democrats — the party of militant wokeness — in power would be on balance much worse for the country than the Republicans in power. But please do not tell me that I have to ignore the moral corruption inside the GOP as the price of my vote. People are so blockheadedly binary in their thinking. What was the Democratic entity that censured Sen. Sinema for not following the party’s agenda in lockstep? I get being mad at her, but when you control the Senate by a razor-thin margin, you cannot afford to demonize Senators who vote with you on most issues.

Similarly with Hungary, where I am now, I am told by American critics that to support PM Viktor Orban is to show that you don’t care about the various problematic aspects of his governance. Meanwhile, Fidesz is unexpectedly ahead by four points in the most recent poll. Why? In talking this week to actual Hungarians, I’ve heard that the opposition candidate, Peter Marki-Zay, has been a bumbler on the campaign trail, stoking fears that he is not ready to run the country. Last summer when I was here, I gathered from many conversations with Hungarians who are ready for a change in government (Orban’s Fidesz Party has been in power since 2010) that they worry about whether or not the opposition is competent enough to be trusted with power. The sense I gathered is that they were waiting to see who the opposition chose as its standard-bearer in the campaign. Well, now they know, and they have seen how Marki-Zay campaigns — and that is likely why Fidesz is ahead and widening the gap two months before the voting.

I bring that up in this discussion because it shows that mature voters can see politics with the eyes of realists. They may not like Orban, but they don’t want to hand the country over to incompetent governance. Imagine that: it is possible to hold two somewhat opposed ideas in one’s mind at the same time. I would rather live in that world than in the “Four legs good, two legs bad” world of the Republican and Democratic herds.

Back to the House Republicans: why was it necessary to censure Cheney and Kinzinger? What good was served by it? Again, I believe that it is possible to oppose their stance while at the same time respecting their right to dissent from the majority. This is politics, not religion. We are not dealing here with metaphysical/theological truths. A healthy political party or movement has to maintain a space for internal dissent. But we don’t have healthy political parties now. We don’t have a healthy public square. If you want to know where this thing might end up going before too long, watch the first episode of the 1980s-era British TV documentary about the Spanish Civil War. Watch at least to the point where the old Falangist writes that by 1935, both Left and Right hated each other so much that when they saw each other on the street, they saw demons.



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