As more than 200 Republican members of Congress ignore their oaths to the Constitution and abet Donald Trump's fascist attempt to overturn the election results, their cowardly silence is damn near ensuring that someone—or multiple people—will end up dead.
"I don't know how this ends without violence and death," Clint Watts, a Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and at the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at George Washington University, told MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace Wednesday.
The pattern of threats is unmistakable and it is growing. Here’s a brief overview:
- The plot to kidnap the Michigan governor
- Armed militia members showing up at the home of Michigan's secretary of state while she was decorating for Christmas
- Violent threats directed at Georgia's secretary of state, his family, and random election workers
- A Georgia election official's urgent warning that death threats in the state will get someone killed
- Death threats made against the Arizona secretary of state and her family
- The Arizona Republican Party asking whether people are willing to die for Trump's cause
- Armed protesters showing up at the homes of Idaho health officials and terrorizing their families
As Watts pointed out, many of the most concerning threats are arising in states where militias and fringe right-wing groups have traditionally thrived—Idaho, Michigan, Arizona, and Georgia. Watts also believes the worst is yet to come. The relatively close election, he said, created a delayed response of sorts where people were waiting for an outcome and Trump's cultists believed he might still prevail. But, Watts added, "They now have had time to think about what they want to do, they have heard continuous false claims—which they want to believe—and now they are being pushed and pointed to places to mobilize." Watts added the dynamic was only going to get worse in the months ahead after Trump is ejected from the White House, the coronavirus starts to be less of a threat, and there's more public targets as people start returning to public life.
But as the threat of violence grows, the vast majority of GOP lawmakers continue pouring gasoline on the pyre. On Wednesday, 17 Republican attorneys general joined a doomed pro-Trump lawsuit seeking to overturn election results and subvert the will of the people in a handful of states. On Tuesday, GOP leaders Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy torpedoed a symbolic resolution that would have recognized Joe Biden as rightful president-elect for the purposes of the inaugural ceremonies. And many state GOP lawmakers continue making various legal and rhetorical efforts to push support for Trump's fascist coup attempt.
Meanwhile, Trump himself is issuing clear calls to violence. "We will soon be learning about the word ‘courage’, and saving our Country," Trump tweeted Thursday, before spouting more unfounded gibberish claiming that he actually won the election until it was "FIXED!"
The toxic mix of events left MSNBC's Wallace practically speechless Wednesday on her show Deadline: White House. How, she wondered, could Republican lawmakers and even conservative media personalities possibly fail to draw the line at stoking violence over an election Trump clearly lost?
"That line is in the rear view mirror," responded former GOP strategist Steve Schmidt. "They crossed it. ... We cannot be fantastical in wishing that what has happened has not happened in our thinking. It has happened."
Schmidt went on to assert that the Republican party is no longer committed to the American ideal of representative democracy.
"They all know that Biden has won the election," Schmidt said. "What they're doing is for no purpose other than power. The Republican party is an organized conspiracy for the purposes of maintaining power for self-interest, and the self-interest of its donor class. There is no fidelity to the American idea and ideal."
Rough transcript (emphasis added):
Nicolle Wallace: I do not understand how elected Republicans like Mitch McConnell and even right-wing hosts like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh do not say, today, there's a line that can't be crossed and that's violence.
Steve Schmidt: That line is in the rear view mirror, Nicolle. They crossed it. They crossed the rubicon—they crossed it in the month of November. We cannot be fantastical in wishing that what has happened has not happened in our thinking. It has happened. We've watched it play out. We've watched Trump and his loony attorneys. We've watched the declarations of fraud. We've seen United States senators, members of the House of Representatives—they all know that Biden has won the election. What they're doing is for no purpose other than power. The Republican party is an organized conspiracy for the purposes of maintaining power for self-interest, and the self-interest of its donor class. There is no fidelity to the American idea and ideal. There is no fidelity to the ideas of classical liberalism or American democracy. The whole fight in the history of the country has been, who gets to participate in the American idea and ideal. In 2020, there's one side, and I'm proud to be on it, that says it's for everybody—for Black people, for Latinos, for gay people, for every American, right? It belongs to all of us. That's not what the other side believes. They believe that they should rule over the majority of the country by any means necessary. The debate that has been about, do we get to participate in this great experiment, has now become one whether we continue with this great experiment at all. That's why they are so radical. There has never been a force that has achieved power or is within reach of achieving power in the next election that's been so hostile to the history, the Foundings, the essence and the entire meaning of the country as is this Trump and Trumpist movement that has taken over lock, stock, and barrel the Republican party—which is no longer dedicated to American democracy. It is dedicated to Trump and Trumpism and to his family, to defense of his indecencies, his autocratic manner, his corruptions, and apologists for the profound damage he has done.