THEY STILL LURK
In the last election, some of the worst of them were defeated. Kari Lake, a notorious election denier, lost in my own state of Arizona. The ignorant ex-football player lost in the Georgia runoff. And the malignity behind them all has lost much of his influence. If all goes well, he may yet pay for his crimes.
But it is no time to relax and celebrate the complete return of sanity. There are too many of the unhinged who have learned the value of the lie to convince the ignorant. They lurk, not in shadows, but in plain sight, and we need to keep an eye on them.
The slight Republican majority in the House has shown us some of them. Dana Milbank in the Post refers to “covidocy”– bizarre attempts at misinformation about the pandemic. Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.) kicked off with the unsupported allegation that “covid was intentionally released” from a Chinese lab because “it would be impossible for the virus to be accidentally leaked.” (Lesko is unfortunately “my” Representative due to redistricting). Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) said: “Researchers found that the vaccinated are at least twice as likely to be infected with covid as the unvaccinated.” Others claimed we should have just let everyone catch Covid (which would have killed hundreds of thousands more of us), that we shouldn’t even test, mask, or vaccinate.
This is EXACTLY the kind of misinformation that made the US more deadly than most of the rest of the world, despite the efforts and advice of the best medical science. These demented ravings were not just those of an obscure website-poster, but people actually elected to Congress.
Rep. James Comer from Kentucky has repeated the white supremacist “replacement” theory. He has made confused accusations not only against Hunter Biden, but his other son Beau, who died of cancer in 2015. Rep. Jim Jordan is friendly to the alt-right “constitutional sheriffs”, who include AZ Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels, and Pinal County, AZ., Sheriff Mark Lamb. These are white supremacists who believe they can nullify any law they don’t like (especially civil rights and gun control), and associate with Proud Boys, Oathkeepers, and other election deniers.
These are not the old Republicans, who merely supported corporations and the wealthy and ignored the needs of the poor and sick. Many of those were insensitive to racism, sexism, and other discrimination, but most were not opposed to our democratic system. The old ones were bad enough, but there are far worse ones today.
There are 5 Supreme Court justices willing to disregard freedom of religion and the right to be secure in one’s person (the right to privacy), yet permissive of firearm proliferation among civilians. The governor of Florida, who may run for President, wants to censor education and ban books.
I believe there are enough of us who insist on preserving our freedom, who stand for racial, sexual, religious, and economic equality to defeat the enemies of liberty, in future elections and by enforcing laws that guarantee civil rights for all. But we cannot take victory for granted. We must not be apathetic. Our duty as citizens of a democracy does not end with casting a ballot.