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The GOP might blame Democrats (!) for any new violence

Here’s how their biggest gaslighting yet is being prepared

Republicans are preparing the option of blaming Democrats for any new political violence that may erupt. It’s a blame shift almost too brazen to contemplate, yet their biggest gaslighting operation of all time is underway.

Here’s how they’re laying the groundwork:

1. Recasting their opposition to Biden’s election

Congressional Republicans are frantically recasting their opposition to affirming the legitimacy of the Biden-Harris victory. This is an essential posturing maneuver to — in their minds, at least— downplay any connection between that opposition and the violence so far.

This effort’s formal launch: in debate in the House Rules Committee, over Rep. Jamie Raskin’s (D-MD) legislation calling upon Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment.

Ranking member Jim Jordan (R-OH) repeatedly recast his role in opposing certification as simply a legitimate, Constitutional process of asking questions about the conduct of the election.

While Jordan did condemn violence, he now describes the conspiracy theories that fueled that violence in a new light: an anodyne process of congressional inquiry, rather than a manufactured controversy fed by outlandish conspiracy theories that have failed over 60 empirical tests in courtrooms. Jordan even denied he’d ever claimed the election was stolen, despite his own prior propaganda:

2. Detaching from the horror of the Capitol siege

This has emerged as a three-track phenomenon:

  • Fantastical claims that “Antifa” was responsible for any violent acts;
  • Suggesting the siege (well, at least what they claim as the innocent non-Antifa elements) was a logical byproduct of Democrats’ refusal to “investigate” the equally-delusional claims of election fraud; and,
  • Blaming “fake news” for having robbed them of that protest’s message, by focusing on the day’s violence.

Sure, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy asked his caucus to stop claiming Antifa was to blame for ransacking the Capitol.

But the self absolution had already taken hold.

Too many had convinced themselves the siege was a legitimate protest — and furthermore, that its importance was stolen from them by the media. A good example of this is seen in Sabrina Tavernise’s recent report in The New York Times:

“’I can’t just sit back and say, ‘OK, I’ll just go back to watching football,’ said Daniel Scheerer, 43, a fuel truck driver in Grand Junction, Colo., who went to the rally in Washington last week, but said he did not go inside the Capitol and had nothing to do with those who did. He said he did not condone those who were violent, but believed that the news media has ‘totally skewed’ the event, obscuring what he sees as the real story of the day — the people’s protest against election fraud.”

And this denial at the grassroots level has been matched in the halls of Congress:

3. The big gaslight: impeachment as lit fuse

This is where leading MAGA voices have been very direct. They are broadcasting their preparedness to blame any new violence on Democrats having plowed forward with impeachment:

Beltway Democrats rightly scoffed at the cognitive dissonance of these statements: how could Trump’s supporters be a peaceful lot, yet “ready to explode”? How could they have been the peaceful ones at the Capitol, while Kilmeade reminds us “you saw what happened”?

Never mind the lack of linear thought, as we haven’t seen a scrap of that in, oh, approximately four years now.

What matters is that America is convulsed and twisted in sickness, poisoned by lies. And not one ounce of that poison has been drained away:

Their victimhood knows no bounds, and will have no end. YOU (Democrats, media, elites, et al) robbed them of their election. YOU made them so angry they retook Washington, DC. Then YOU twisted their protest by focusing on violence at the Capitol (and hey, that really wasn’t them anyway).

They haven’t blamed their President, nor themselves, for a single failing yet. They aren’t about to embrace the powers of self awareness now.

If the Senate proceeds with a trial, new political violence is likely to burst from the far Right. They will light that fuse, then just as quickly ignite their brightest gaslight.

Frantz Fanon famously wrote that, for his post-war anti-colonial movements, “Violence is man re-creating himself.” For the reactionary MAGA army, violence will just be a man repeating himself.

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Joel Lawson

Joel Lawson

DC-based public affairs consultant. Fmr: Capitol Hill, Ctr for Partnership Studies; Caring Economy Campaign; Fmr Chair, GenderAction. about.me/joellawson