Stop Calling the GOP Cowards

Published February 8, 2021

As the Senate again tries Trump for impeachment, we shall again witness Senate Republicans refuse to do the obvious right thing and convict the obviously guilty author of the worst assault in our democracy by a sitting President in the history of the Republic. To account for this cravenness, pundits keep describing the GOP as acting out of fear, as in this representative take from David Frum that ran in the Atlantic two weeks ago:

Republican senators are shrinking from doing justice in the impeachment trial because they are afraid of Trump and his supporters. Trump is not afraid. Trump is not driven by the same political calculations as the Republican senators. They are alert to danger—and nimble enough to jump out of the way. Trump, by contrast, is a terrible risk-calculator. That’s why he went bankrupt so often. He doesn’t react to political danger like a normal politician. He plunges ahead. That is a kind of superpower, especially when the costs of his miscalculations fall on others: the defeated Republican House incumbents of 2018, Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in 2021, and aspiring Republican candidates in 2022.

The party’s best hope is to shove him aside. But if the Republican senators were the kinds of people who could do that, they would not have fallen under his thrall in the first place.

In the immediate aftermath of the January 6 insurrection, for a brief moment, McConnell seemed to discover in himself some long-corked cask of courage and integrity. That moment did not last. What instead is being planned for February is a Night of the Rubber Knives (to borrow a phrase from political history)—a flinching from reality that will protect Trump, betray the country, and ever more abjectly subordinate a party that calls itself “constitutional” to the ego, whims, greed, and violence of a disgraced ex-president.

I say, “Rubbish.”

Stop, for the love of God, calling the GOP “cowards”. They are not cowards. They are nihilistic, iron-willed, steel-spined predators with consciences seared hard and waterproof as leather to tears of mercy and pleas for decency. They don’t even feel hatred for you. They feel nothing toward you. You don’t matter to them except as prey. Stop telling yourself they are timid people who just cannot work up the courage to do the right thing. They are predators and questions of right and wrong don’t matter to them except as tools for manipulating you into feeling pity for them so they can strike you more easily in your vulnerability. All their decisions are tactical and ordered toward fattening themselves on you and all you love.

In short, they have goals, not principles.

To be sure, somewhere in the rotting husk of their souls, our Faith insists, are human beings whose essence remains the image and likeness of God and we (especially I) need to remember that. They are not identical with their sin and until they breathe their last, there remains the possibility of their salvation. It is not for us to judge their hearts.

But it is for us–and commanded by Jesus–to judge their fruits and to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves in strategizing how to serve the common good when facing enemies (yes, that is the word) such as the GOP. And the first order of business is to exercise prudence by ceasing to tell ourselves they are well-meaning but timid. That is not what is happening here. They are predatory sinners who need to repent, not frightened lambs who just need a little encouragement.

Because of this, it is important to grasp, right this very second and not when it is too late, that the emerging strategy of the GOP is to make the Trump Administration–and particularly its climactic assault on our democracy, complete with violence and murder–a practice run for the real thing in the near future.

They have good reason for attempting this course of action.

First, they know they cannot win in a fair fight in this democracy. They did their damnedest to cheat in this last election as they have done multiple times over the years in state and local elections and it was only through an all out effort by the Democrats and the strength of our institutions that they were defeated in the presidential election. But voter suppression has served them well in the past and they hope it will serve them again.

Second, they know they will be even weaker if they do not unite. As Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” They have invited into their house a ravening horde of crazies, goblins, lunatics, killers, and morons–the very people who assaulted the Capitol–and they have to placate them because, given the choice, that mob of violent killers and idiots will follow Trump, not the GOP leadership, and destroy the Party in their imbecility and vengefulness. The leadership knows they have to ride the tiger or end up inside.

Third, they know that if they vote to convict the man who sent a mob to the Capitol to murder them, it will mean he can never run for President again, but it will not mean that he cannot send that mob to murder them again, or assassinate them with terror attacks in his spite and malice.

Fourth, they also know that Trump is already acting like he means to run again:

Image may contain: text that says 'THE OFFICE OF DONALD J. TRUMP -January 25, 2021- Statement from the Office of the Former President Palm Beach County, Florida -Today, the 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, formally opened the Office the Former President. The Office will be responsible for managing President Trump's correspondence, public statements, appearances and official activities to advance the interests of the United States and to carry on the agenda of the Trump Administration through advocacy, organizing, and public activism. President Trump will always and forever be champion for the American People.'

By this notice, the Great Tapeworm in the gut tract of the GOP informs his Republican hosts that he will suck away at their lifeblood and psychic energy forever and ever until they waste away and die if they do not back him. If they convict him in the Senate and make it impossible for him to run again, he will never ever ever stop undermining their efforts to field other candidates. He is a Nazgul, neither living nor dead. He will never stop hunting them.

Fourth, they know that if the GOP has a civil war in its ranks, they can forget winning in 2022, 2024, and beyond. The crazies who screamed, “Hang Mike Pence” will come for them, not for Biden or the Dems. The Dems only stand to win as the GOP and their MAGA Frankenstein monster destroy each other.

So the GOP are opting to roll the dice and sticking with Trump, either in an attempt to steal his crown as the More MAGA Than Trump candidates of the midterms and 2024 or, should Trump somehow stage a comeback, as his .unified party behind him in four years. Because without unity, they are dead as a force in US politics–and a number of them may wind up in prison too as the crooks and nuts they are. So unity means making peace with the freak show that tried to kill them on January 6, because as Trump said to them, “We love you. You are very special.” The GOP is now committed to the defense of an authoritarian fascist and his cult of violent kooks because raw, nihilist power, not America, is all that matters to them.

So the goal is to work toward the destruction of our democracy and the permanent installment of authoritarian rule. That is the end game they seek. Get that through your head right now and work to defeat them right now and for the next decade in every federal, state, and local election, not when it has become an emergency. Continue driving them from power at every opportunity until they are gone completely.


20 Responses

  1. “In short, they have goals, not principles.”

    Very true for the most part. But let’s be honest. The same is true for most Democrats in Congress as well. Their primary goal — the goal above all other goals for which they will sacrifice any principle — is reelection and the preservation of their own power.

    Politics in this country, at least at the Federal Level, is no longer anything remotely democratic or even republican (note lower cases). It’s a team sport. It is us vs. them mentality.

    1. One Party actually attacked Congress just a month ago, killing five. Mark Shea now warns us that this Party is showing no signs of repentance or remorse, nor any intent of holding anyone accountable for it.

      And what does marksofmaine say about this? “Both sides.”

      * facepalm *

      1. Facepalm indeed. The two parties are not the same, and Mr. Shea’s analysis of the Republican Party is spot on. Nothing I wrote disagrees with that.

        But I must point out: Just because the GOP are the bad guys (and they are), it doesn’t make the Democratic Party virtuous champions of all that is right and good in the universe. That thinking is where Progressives go wrong. You win an election and you think, “Whew! That’s over with!” and you go back to sleep. The Democrats may not be doing things that are as egregiously and blatantly evil as the GOP, but lesser evils are still evils. But the Progressive console themselves with, “At least we aren’t Republicans.” Sorry. That’s not good enough anymore.

        Yes, it’s great that we have a functioning adult in the White House again. The swamp monster has fled back to Florida, where we can hope he’ll remain. But if you REALLY think Biden is our Knight in Shining Armor, you need to pay closer attention. 😉

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCzxR-vo9nA

      2. @ makne

        Bothsiderism is an insidious disease. The democrats are not perfect. No party is. But as long as we have only two viable parties in this country, and ONE of those parties is willing to steal, lie, crazy, and cheat in its single minded pursuit of power and money, there is a clear choice.

        It has been 40 years since I last voted for a republican. Given that our SCROTUS , dominated by hyperconservatives who shouldn’t be there, once again has said that religulous freedumb trumps— get it?- everything, including the lives of Americans, or that the right own as many guns of whatever type you like- becuase thatks what well-regulated means- I will not be voting ever again for a republican.

      3. Read SteveG’s comment below. I started writing a response, but then realized I was just repeating what he wrote, in its entirety.

    2. The folly of the “Both Sides” moral equivalence lie is that it always serves one goal: to defend the visible from space graver evil that is the Cult of Trump. Only one side promotes insurrection and the destruction of our constitutional order for the sake of raw, nihilist power. Only one side supports and is supported by actual fucking Nazis. Only one literally killed people in the assault on the capitol. Only one side punished members calling for the rule of law. Only one side gave a standing ovation to a moron who calls for shooting her political enemies in the head, calls mass shootings a hoax, calls 9/11 a hoax, and believes in Jewish Space Lasers. Stop, for the love of God, telling yourself and the rest of us the obscene lie that Both Sides are the Same and take a stand.

      1. Not what I’m stating at all, and I think if you’ll go back up and read that, you’ll see that.

        What I am stating — and I don’t see why this is so hard to understand — is that yes, the GOP has devolved into a monstrosity that is truly a clear and present danger to our republic. Does that make the Democrats are the great saviors to whom we must give full-throated uncritical support? No. We need to hold their feet to the fire, too.

        Be more democratic. Not less. 🙂

        That’s all I ‘m saying. Why is that so hard to fathom?

      2. And if I had anywhere said that the Dems deserve uncritical support you would have a real point. But since I have never said any such thing why are you overemphasizing a rebuttal to something nobody is saying or believes?

      3. “And if I had anywhere said that the Dems deserve uncritical support you would have a real point. But since I have never said any such thing why are you overemphasizing a rebuttal to something nobody is saying or believes?”

        Fair point. Mea culpa.

        But since you asked “why,” I’ll answer: Because you do a great job of exposing the GOP for the monstrosity it has become, and you are right in lamenting how so many Catholics have sold their soul to Caesar. You are 100% right, and I applaud it.

        I just wish that you would sometimes shine that criticism on the other side as well. Like you yourself have often written: Be more Catholic, not less. In this case, let’s be more (and truly) Progressive, not Less. But hey, it’s your website. Do what you want. 🙂

      4. When your patient has stage IV cancer, it is silly to spend time worrying about a hangnail. Basic triage means addressing the big issues. The Dems are doing that. They GOP are working hard to kill the patient. Why waste time nitpicking the good guys?

      5. “When your patient has stage IV cancer, it is silly to spend time worrying about a hangnail. Basic triage means addressing the big issues. The Dems are doing that. They GOP are working hard to kill the patient. Why waste time nitpicking the good guys?”

        Because there aren’t any good guys in this fight. Or at least not any good teams. Kinda my point. In trying to rid your house of an infestation of rats, loosing a nest of adders isn’t always the best solution. 😉

        But I’m not going to belabor the point. Your criticism of the GOP could not be more correct. You’re spot on, and I applaud you for doing it. But I think you’re sometimes a little too willing and eager to look past the Dems’ faults. If they ultimately win this fight, we’re going to have a whole new set of problems on our hands, way more serious than “a hangnail.”

        Just a little friendly criticism. I hope you take it in the spirit of love and admiration in which I intend it. My INTJ brain doesn’t always come across as I mean.

  2. “ They are not cowards. They are nihilistic, iron-willed, steel-spined predators”

    They are both, mark. You put the two things together, and what you have are what The former occupant of the white house is.

    BULLIES.

  3. marksofmain
    Everybody gets it…we know the democrats aren’t perfect, and have problems, and ultimately our out to preserve their power, blah blah blah. Really, nobody is missing your point…it’s just a really stupid point to make in the context of this post, and in the context of what has happened the past four years.

    The democrats don’t need to be knights in shining armor, and they can even fight to preserve their power….as long as they get some decent crap done and don’t actively try to destroy the country. That’s good enough for me at least for now.

  4. Mark what you seem to be describing in your post is a party of sociopathic personality disorders or at least people who are strongly influenced by sociopathic traits.

  5. I have to agree with Ben. Being predators and being cowards aren’t mutually exclusive.

    Most Republicans are anything but spine-steeled. We all witnessed their gelatinous backbones slithering from the position that Trump was dangerous (even if what they really meant was dangerous to their own power) immediately and directly to the position that he was a champion whose agenda must be supported, the second he became the GOP’s nominee.

    That doesn’t make them less dangerous. That doesn’t make them less malicious. That doesn’t make it any less urgent or important to break their grip on power forever.

    But it remains true that the Republicans are acting out of fear, both of MAGA mob violence and of the loss of their power. That doesn’t mean it’s not their poor widdwe fauwt—not by a long shot. After all, what do the rich and powerful fear most of all? The consequences of their own actions.

  6. Mark, It seems to me that you are identifying sociopathic personality disorders above. They are not all sociopaths but they seem to be the loudest in the gop who have the most influence. The cowards seem to be represented by their fearful passivity in response to the predatory nature of the sociopath.

  7. ” If evil people cannot be defined by the illegality of their deeds or the magnitude of their sins, then how are we to define them? The answer is by the consistency of their sins. While usually subtle, their destructiveness is remarkably consistent. ”

    M. Scott Peck “People of the Lie : The Hope for Healing Human Evil ” (1983)

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