Hypocrisy within the Republican Party is nothing new, but on Tuesday it reached a new low.
Participants in the mob used the very instruments with which they proclaim to support the police in actions of violence against them. Some waved Blue Lives Matter flags.
The centerpiece of the hearing opening a congressional investigation into the Capitol insurrection was the emotional testimony given by four front-line police officers who were protecting lawmakers, staff members and visitors at the Capitol complex on Jan. 6 when an angry mob threatened their lives.
The officers painted a bleak and disturbing picture of not only the hate and violence they faced that day, but also of how Republicans actually view law enforcement. Members of the GOP are willing to trample — quite literally, in some cases — on one of the last remaining pillars of the party they purport to support rather than acknowledge the truth that Donald Trump lost the election fair and square. The appalling display Tuesday goes to show just how comprehensive is the revisionism party leaders are engaging in, while Trump continues to tout these deceitful views.
Historically, Republicans have been the party that has proudly represented law and order. But while Republicans are still quick to declare their loyalty to law enforcement on the campaign trail, most of the party has become apologists for the rioters. As was noted throughout Tuesday’s hearing, GOP members have refused to acknowledge that brutal force was used against officers during the riot at the Capitol and that police were themselves the target. Top House and Senate GOP leaders dismissed the investigation, suggested that reports of violence were exaggerated and otherwise sided with the insurrectionists over those defending democracy — even though a police officer lost his life.
In chilling and powerful testimony in the House on Tuesday, the four officers painted a terrifying picture of how Trump supporters treated police when confronted by them face to face. They detailed how they were beaten, knocked unconscious and made to fear for their lives at the hands of a mob who not only outnumbered them but also came prepared for battle, as well as an attempted coup.
U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, through tears, put the jarring Republican contradiction in sharp relief: Participants in the mob used the very instruments with which they proclaim to support the police in actions of violence against them. Some waved Blue Lives Matter flags as they accosted him. Others attacked him with a flagpole.
Gonell pointed out that many of the same people who support the insurrection at the Capitol criticize athletes for taking a knee against police brutality. They’re willing to condemn a peaceful act of protest but not the violence directed at police officers doing their job to protect the Capitol — including some of the lawmakers who claim to support Blue Lives Matter. Their own actions against those who swear to protect and serve were dangerous and selfish; some respect they have for the military, police officers and their families.
Even more troubling was the account from Harry Dunn, a Black U.S. Capitol Police officer who faced abuse from the pro-Trump masses, many calling him a “n*****.” He told Congress that “no one had ever, ever called me a n***** while wearing the uniform of a Capitol Police officer.”
In addition to the moral tragedy within the Republican Party that was clearly on display Tuesday, there was political malpractice, as well. Many Americans are unhappy with the criticism that’s been leveled at the police from the left after the killing of George Floyd and the racial justice protests that involved looting.
Less than a year and half out from the 2022 midterm elections, we’re already seeing pro-police messaging from the GOP bashing Democrats for their lack of a “law and order” agenda. And as violent crime incidents are rising this summer and the midterm campaign kicks into high gear, police forces have seen a 45 percent increase in retirements and an 18 percent bump in resignations.
Yet at the hearing Tuesday, Democrats took the opportunity to express full support for the officers sharing their testimony, even as there’s been infighting among the party about the “defund the police” platform and as many have criticized whole police forces over bad actors who wear the badge. Moreover, the Democrats are offering solutions to address these issues through more community intervention and funding, while Republicans continue to spew faux outrage to score political points with their base.
Indeed, in a year that has been broadly defined by increased violent crime and the state of race relations, it’s Democrats who are doing more to preserve law and order than Republicans. At the beginning of the year, President Joe Biden put forth and signed a stimulus package that included more funding for police forces, but Republicans voted against it and are likely to vote against community intervention programming nestled in the infrastructure and jobs plan the Biden administration also proposed.
Democrats have been quick to take on Republicans in that messaging war — Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., recently said, “When it came to supporting resources for local communities, including law enforcement, not one Republican voted in favor of that funding.”
The tides are changing, and it’s evident that at every turn Republicans are on the wrong side of history. Their refusal to see what clearly happened on Jan. 6 is just a small part of that. Their ignorance toward race relations in this country and the welcoming of white supremacist rhetoric by Trump into the party show just how far from law, order and justice they really are.