Reps. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.), Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) watch floor

Reps. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.), Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) watch floor proceedings as the search for speaker continued for a fourth day during a meeting of the 118th Congress, Friday, January 6, 2023, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC. The House reconvened for a fourth day of voting after Rep.-elect Kevin McCarthy failed to earn more than 218 votes on 11 ballots over three days.

(Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Insurrection 2.0: The GOP Is Now a Party Focused on Sabotage and Destruction

What we saw this week is a preview of much worse to come, with or without McCarthy as figurehead speaker.

I’d wondered how Republicans would mark the anniversary of the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Then untarnishable Florida Man Matt Gaetz and his freedom contras reenacted it by other means this week. This insurrection is from within. It’s just starting.

Kevin McCarthy, the wobbliest amoeba to be elected Speaker and stand third in line for the presidency, got his prize by sacrificing it. There is no Speakership anymore except in name.

Any single member of the House can now call for the speaker’s ouster whenever they choose. Previously, only party leaders could. Insurrectionists got their pick of crucial committee assignments. They’ll dictate what bills get to the floor, rig any bill with whatever suicidal amendment they choose, kill any spending bill they don’t like. These 20 insurrectionists with neither congressional seniority nor accomplishments to their names will sabotage committees, Congress and country from weaponized backbenches, with their party’s blessing. Is anybody surprised?

McCarthy surrendered gavel for grovel.

Lost in the din is the very unusual bipartisan success of the two years of the 117th Congress that just ended. Democrats and Republicans combined to give us laws that protect gay marriage. They gave us the largest infrastructure bill and largest government investment in research and development in decades. They gave us tighter background checks on younger people buying guns. And they gave us a law that changed the way electoral votes are counted so people like Donald Trump couldn’t attempt the kind of coup he did two years ago by fabricating constitutional clauses the way he does his tax returns.

Every one of these laws drew a dozen or more Republican senators and quite a few Republican House members, too. It was one of the most productive congresses in not-so recent years. Now the barbarians are back in charge. It only takes a few, if the rest of them allow it. That’s the thing: we keep hearing that the 20 insurrectionists are a tiny minority. But they’re the core of Republican ideology, such as it is. They couldn’t get away with their stunts if they didn’t represent a constituency reflecting the anarchy. It’s Trumpism on steroids. It can only end one way. The Republicans had yet to swear-in their new House majority before they turned the whole thing into Jonestown. You remember Jonestown, don’t you, the town the paranoid California preacher and power-mad Jim Jones established in the jungles of Guyana with about 900 of his more gullible church flock, first taking their savings then taking their lives in a mass murder-suicide in 1979. That’s where the expression drinking the kool aid comes from, because he had everyone drink cyanide mixed in with kool aid as he drilled their souls with conspiracies all around. Jones was a QAnon stem cell.

It’s Trumpism on steroids. It can only end one way.

You know Republicans have gone Jonestown when the likes of Marjorie Taylor Green and action-figure Trump end up sounding like their most reasonable voices. Here those two were this week, begging the monsters they created to calm down at least long enough to elect that other Californian while Gaetz’s horde played what Green herself called “Russian Roulette” with their newly gained power. Republicans know suicide.

Lost in the din, too, is the scum pond that “Freedom Caucus” crawled out of a few years ago. One of its founding members was none other than Ron DeSantis, the Guantanamo graduate who’d have been standing right along Gaetz and other insurrectionists this week had he not become Florida’s doubleplus caudillo-in-chief. Every time DeSantis speaks the word “freedom”–as he did 12 times in his inaugural address Tuesday–another liberty loses its wings.

Like the speakership, the word freedom has lost its meaning, though in fairness to DeSantis he’s only applying the Grand Old Party’s stately definition of the word, coined by Ronald Reagan, that unassailable freedom-loving deity, when he called the rapists, terrorists and mass murderers of Central America “freedom fighters.”

“Freedom lives here,” DeSantis told us Tuesday, the way it does in the Republican House: The 20 nut cases holding it hostage are the party’s purest, and purist, expression.

If their fight was about ideas, policies, even principles, even I’d cheer it on. But it’s none of those things. Right wing Republicans have no ideas. No idea, period. Not that moderates have been doing much better. The GOP hasn’t had a single new idea in 30 years, other than lowering taxes and defeating every social and ecological initiative possible while rolling back the hard-won civil rights and liberties of the Warren Court. It’s reactionary ideology: opposition for its own sake, a black and white, all or nothing approach that sees treachery in compromise and an enemy behind every moderate, when compromise and moderation are the essence of American democracy at its best. It was Mitch McConnell, remember, who explicitly put that in words when, as Senate majority leader, he said his only aim in 2010 was to make Obama a one-term president. Accomplishments be damned. The extremists’ nihilism today is not materially different. They’re not about achieving the country. They’re about destruction, their mentality comparable, again, only to the psyche of the suicide bomber, this one wearing a bright red maga hat.

What we saw this week is a preview of much worse to come, with or without McCarthy as figurehead speaker. There’s nothing to cheer here, not for anyone who cares about this country. Not as long as Maga’s white-collar insurrectionists are calling the shots.

Join the Movement: Become Part of the Solution Today

We're optimists who believe in the power of informed and engaged citizens to ignite and enact change to make the world a better place.

We're hundreds of thousands strong, but every single supporter counts.

Your contribution supports this new media model—free, independent, and dedicated to uncovering the truth. Stand with us in the fight for social justice, human rights, and equality. As a people-powered nonprofit news outlet, we cover the issues the corporate media never will. Join with us today!

© 2023 Pierre Tristam