This Gen-Xer’s lefty views on the government and social issues diverge greatly from a lot of folks in the North State, and that includes most of those with whom I share DNA. I’d call myself the black sheep of the family, but thankfully there are a few others in my flock.
To be honest, I don’t know where many of my relatives stand on the matter of the 45th president. Most have kept tight-lipped over the last four years, a courtesy I’ve mostly reciprocated in their company, though they know my mind through these op-ed pages. Aside from one second cousin—whose Facebook page looks like some sort of QAnon multi-level marketing scheme—I can’t tell who fully supported the former fascist-in-chief from those who were so married to the Republican Party that they quietly tolerated him.
What has that tolerance begotten? On a larger scale, one only has to go back to Jan. 6 at the nation’s Capitol to bear witness to the defining moment of the modern GOP—a riot perpetrated by revelers whose antics would be laughed away as an absurd spectacle had they not, you know, planted bombs and killed people, including a police officer attempting to stop the siege.
I watched that day unfold live on C-Span while standing in the middle of my living room with my hand over my mouth agape. Then I listened to people from middle America call into the nonprofit network, many echoing Trump’s bogus claim that he won the election or screaming “fake news” at cable TV’s most neutral journalists.
My husband warned me Trump’s loss would trigger a violent insurrection. But Americans have the attention span of a gnat, I thought. “People will get over it,” I told him. “Plus, nobody’s that dumb.”
I was wrong. Of course, we got to this point because of that aforementioned tolerance—Republicans not pushing back on Trump throughout his lie-filled presidency. Now they expect the rest of us to forget what happened and move on. Not so freaking fast, especially while they continue to fuel Trumpism.
One of the biggest stories coming out of Washington these days is the ascension of QAnon adherent Marjorie Taylor Greene, a newly elected Georgia congresswoman who sports a “Trump won” face covering and has a history of advocating violence against Democratic Party leaders. Greene has quite a track record of espousing conspiracy theories, including on such topics as school shootings (Sandy Hook and Marjory Stoneman Douglas were staged) and the Sept. 11 attacks (a plane didn’t hit the Pentagon). She also perpetuated the antisemitic claim that the Camp Fire—yes, our Camp Fire—was started by space lasers owned by a Jewish banking firm. Absolutely nutso.
Last week, only 11 of 211 House Republicans broke ranks to join Democrats in voting to remove Greene from the committees, including the education panel, on which Republican leaders in that chamber saw fit to seat her. Young Kim, a freshman Republican from Orange County, was one of them. Good on her. Unsurprisingly, five-term Rep. Doug LaMalfa of the 1st Congressional District voted with the other 199 Trump sycophants.
Speaking of toadies, if there’s one thing Trump deserves credit for, it’s having pulled back the veil to show us exactly who represents us. Here in far-Northern California, we already knew LaMalfa as a greedy rich guy who votes against the interests of his poor constituents (cutting food stamps) while enriching wealthy folks like himself (increasing farm subsidies).
His tenure is chockablock with backwardness: voting against gay rights, environmental protection, accessible health care, you name it. We also already knew that he plays dirty politics while campaigning (see every congressional race, but especially the one in which his team defamed the late Republican Sam Aanestad).
However, going all-in on Trump’s “stop the steal” gambit now defines LaMalfa. He echoed the rhetoric leading to last month’s violent attempted coup—he’s complicit. The next day he voted against the certification of the election, showing us he’s utterly unrepentant. What’s more, despite the revelations about Greene, LaMalfa, speaking on a local conservative talk radio program, evidently called her the future of the Republican Party. God help us.
We must not forget his transgressions.
As for those in our everyday lives, well, that’s a bit more complicated. Speaking for myself, I’ll never see certain people the same way again. Some of my relationships and friendships are very different today than during the pre-Trump era, and a few have ceased altogether. While it hurts, perhaps it’s ultimately for the best. Sometimes the people we know change in intolerable ways. Then again, maybe they were never who we thought they were.