Before he took his life to escape the ravages of ALS, a gentleman with a wicked sense of humor shared this thought about his neighbor: She is a woman of strong opinions—most of them wrong.
A little wicked myself, I laughed but felt guilty afterward. Even so, the witticism was apt. Firm opinions shutter the mind.
Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican, is a prime example. Buoyed by her fiscal ignorance, she saw no danger for the country if it defaulted on its debt. No one is freaking out, no one is concerned about this mystery date that Janet Yellen has thrown out…
Greene’s mystery wasn’t much of one to others. Most people understood a default would create a recession, costing millions of Americans their jobs, and wreaking havoc with their social security and retirement benefits. The devastation would have overshadowed the January 6 insurrection, reducing it to a historical footnote. To take the country hostage with a manufactured crisis would have been the greater infamy.
Republican Representative Matt Gaetz who earned a law doctorate makes no bones about his intention to break the nation’s spine. Why negotiate with Democrats, he reasoned, when Republicans had taken them hostage? Does the lion negotiate with the rabbit clamped between its jaws? Gaetz seemed to think President Joe Biden would be held accountable for the chaos that would follow.
Others weren’t so sure. They doubted the public was gullible enough to blame a man hauled before a firing squad for the guns pointed at his chest.
With the crisis now averted, we’ll never know how gullible citizens can be. But we have learned that Gaetz’s suicidal gambit makes him the comrade of White Supremacists and Christian Nationalists. The same is true for Greene. She planted the flag for racial injustice after a heated exchange with James Bowman, a Black colleague. Whining to reporters that Bomwn’s demeanor had threatened her, she evoked the memory of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old Black boy who was tortured and killed because he made a White woman uncomfortable.
Given more power, these two members of Congress would upend the common notion of justice. They’d see nothing untoward if Donald Trump were to run for president from a prison cell, then pardon himself if elected. Instead, they’d applaud, imagining his new version of American Carnage would rise from the ashes–failed policies on immigration, revitalized industries, and infrastructure. But they’d be disappointed. Trump has already revealed his new platform. Vengeance.
His supporters will imagine he intends to address their grievances, but they, too, would be wrong. He intends to weaponize the government, focusing its power like a death ray on his enemies. A man who reveres tyrants like Vladimir Putin, Kim Jon Un, and Mohammed bin Salman, could do nothing less.
History teaches that in their quest for power, villains use words indistinguishable from those of patriots. Yet when a tyrant speaks of freedom, what he seeks is a license for himself. Justice narrows to exclude the many. Statesmanship inflicts cruelty. Or, in the case of Greene’s calls for decorum, tr reflects buffoonery.
Voters lack the power to peer into the hearts of the men and women we elect. We know less about their backers–powerbrokers who pull strings from the shadows, treating Democracy like a commodity to be bought and sold rather than the noble idea for which many have died. Only one truth is self-evident. Democracy works best when it tempers the influence of a few with the diversity of the many. Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common. (Winston Churchill)