Now that it has achieved meme-status, the phrase “owning the libs” has evolved to be defined as the obstruction of, domination of and confounding of all things not in line with the Republican agenda. Whether or not individual Republicans use the phrase, they use the idea. To them a moral or political question is decided not on its merits but on its party.
Had Republicans won the 2020 presidential election there would be no question about election fraud, unless they felt they had not won by a sufficiently large margin. There wouldn’t have been 65 lawsuits alleging widespread voter fraud, even if there had been widespread voter fraud. But because they lost, the question of voter fraud has become an endless one, one for which there can never be a sufficient number of investigations to satisfy them.
I make this charge with evidence. Hillary Clinton was investigated six times by Republicans for her role in the Benghazi attacks and in each she was cleared. Yet to this day Republicans still insist that she was criminally culpable for the attacks. Their attitude toward her supposed culpability is no different than it would be had the six investigations never taken place. Six or sixty investigations, the Republican position on Benghazi remains unfalsifiable to this day. To them Hillary Clinton is unclearable, no matter what.
So Rand Paul’s ostensibly reasonable insistence on Sunday to George Stephanopoulos that election integrity in the 2020 presidential election be investigated is freighted with bad faith. Specifically, Paul said, “What I would suggest is if we want greater confidence in our elections — and 75 percent of Republicans agree with me — is that we do need to look into election integrity and [we] do need to see if we can restore confidence in the elections.”
However reasonable his claim may sound on the surface — and when they can, Republicans endeavour to sound oh-so-reasonable — it is in reality, as I say, freighted with bad faith. He dismisses the very reasonable claim that 65 lawsuits filed in various courts constitute sufficient investigations by saying that “most of them were thrown out for procedural reasons.” But some of them were not. And the ones that were not were dismissed on merit.
Rand’s point, really, if you held his feet to the fire, is that however many of the cases were thrown out on merit, that number isn’t enough. If ten were thrown out on merit then he would require twenty. Again, we know this because six Benghazi investigations weren’t enough either.
At what point do Republicans stop? Whether it’s Benghazi investigations or alleged election fraud investigations, they never stop until or unless one of the investigations uncovers exactly what they want, Hillary’s criminal culpability or proof of widespread election fraud. Until then, they will never, ever be satisfied.
Had Rand Paul really been concerned about America’s confidence in the integrity of the election he would have objected to Donald Trump’s incessant claims that the election was fraudulent months before it even took place. He wants the election to be investigated until fraud is found, period. If no fraud is found then he wants the investigations to continue. Again, we know this because of Benghazi, and everything else like it.
This is the game of “owning the libs.” The problem with owning the libs is that it comes with a cost: losing America. The headlong Republican pursuit of power has trampled everything sacred about America. Not even the sacking of the Capitol by thousands of Republican thugs is enough to give them pause. No price is too high and no depth is too low in their headlong pursuit. In the end the American people lose.
This is why Republicans who were criminally involved must go to prison for their part in the failed coup of January 6th. Nothing short of this is ever going to stop them. They get away with their little game of “owning the libs” because many of their radicalised followers encourage them, and there have been no real consequences. Therefore let the consequences come. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.