We have always hoped that Thomas Jefferson meant “men, in the generic sense” when he wrote “all men are created equal.” For those of us who believed in the civil rights movement it made life easier to assume he meant both women and people of color, too, and he wasn’t referring exclusively to white males. There was even a time when such nimble mental gymnastics made it possible for Lyndon Johnson to get the Republican votes he required (after a marathon 54 day Republican filibuster in the Senate) to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Back then you could occasionally catch Republicans in a semi-generous mood. Those were the days.
But let’s face it. Jefferson meant white men of substance and property and we’ve been living in a make-believe world ever since suggesting it was otherwise. Jefferson was simply wrong, of course, but he was negotiating a world that is completely foreign to us today. Even so, many Republicans still live in Jefferson’s past, and that was the same past that led to the American Civil War.
Republicans today — the biggest offenders against human civil rights — can’t handle the notion that a man who served as Vice President under a black man can be President of the United States. They also can’t handle the notion that a woman of color can be his Vice President. So some of them have decided they want to steal the election and — in typical Republican fashion — they want to look self-righteously pissed off while they do it.
Welcome to the New Confederacy, formerly known as the Republican Party. Forget for a moment that nearly a dozen loathsome Republican Senators are objecting to the Electoral College vote in the 2020 presidential election. Where is the outrage from the rest of the Republicans? Where is the white-knuckled trembling fury that eleven of their Republican colleagues are trying to steal the people’s mandate right out from under their noses? Where is the indignation that, for the first time in history, we might be witnessing our very first government-level attempt to overturn a legitimate American election?
Many Americans take for granted the Constitutional tradition of the smooth changeover from one presidential regime to another. America has never had to endure the occasional uncertainties of changing monarchs, or when “presidents” in “republics” decide they like power so much they declare themselves president for life, as with Vladimir Putin or Xi Jinping. It’s easy to forget that America’s greatest gift to the theory of world government isn’t democracy but peaceful transitions.
But some Republicans have decided that, because they don’t like the outcome of this particular election, they can allege whatever they please about that election’s legitimacy. This comes, no doubt, after four years of watching Donald Trump falsely allege whatever he pleases and getting away with it.
Trump has, most recently, employed that same false narrative by insisting to the Georgia Secretary of State that he “find” 11,780 Trump votes so he can retroactively steal the state of Georgia, employing the same tactics he used against Volodymyr Zelensky to steal the election in advance. Republicans watched this toxic, hateful man proclaim for four years that the mainstream media is the enemy of the people and the purveyors of “fake news.” They have come to believe those lies themselves, that the truth is anything Donald Trump says it is, and lies of all kinds get progressively easier for them to tell.
No doubt the others Senators like Susan Collins are “concerned.” But their response to the outrageous conduct of their colleagues is underwhelming, to say the least. They praise them with faint damnation. If they cannot muster a healthy outrage then they can go ahead and join the New Confederacy of this dirty dozen — and go down in flames just like the old one did. It couldn’t happen to a more worthy bunch of people. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.