“When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.”
Maya Angelou's words have never been more accurate, especially when it comes to the current Republican Party.
Over the past several years, Republicans have shown us exactly who they are through their words and actions. They’ve shown that they will abandon any and all principles to retain power and please Donald Trump. They’ve shown they are completely comfortable standing by people in their party who employ racist, xenophobic, bigoted, white nationalist rhetoric. Worse still, they have shown they will use that hatred to further their ambitions. They’ve shown us they have no real policy stances. Put simply, they’ve shown us they are a party that shouldn’t be trusted in a position of power.
Against this backdrop, it is comforting that more voters are beginning to see through Republicans. Take the last midterm elections: people across the generational spectrum turned out and sent a clear message that they are tired of the Republican Party’s extremism. That’s why, for instance, most election deniers who Trump endorsed lost their races. Voters, after all, prefer normalcy, and they elected candidates (or at least tried to in grossly gerrymandered districts) who actually care about making their lives better. After four years of Trump and Republicans’ actions during the first half of the Biden administration, an increasing number of voters realized that the Republican Party simply does not care about their lives.
However, even in 2022, it wasn’t quite enough. While Democrats managed to stave off a red wave and expand their Senate majority by one seat, the margins shouldn’t have been that close. Consider the Georgia Senate race: Raphael Warnock, someone who has proven himself committed to improving the lives of all Georgians, ended up with barely 100,000 more votes than Herschel Walker, someone whose life, prior to becoming a candidate, was antithetical to virtually everything that Republicans claim to support. Ultimately, a large portion of voters still believed in what Republicans sold them. Elections outcomes that weren’t supposed to be close had results that were too close for comfort.
With a GOP-controlled House and a razor-thin Democratic majority in the Senate, it is critical that voters pay attention to what Republicans are saying and doing openly and publicly. Just last week, Republicans not only embarrassed themselves while the world watched, but they also debased the process. Kevin McCarthy, so desperate and craven for political power, spent four days and 15 rounds of humiliation to become Speaker of the House. In fact, during that process of voting for a Speaker, the situation escalated to the point where a fistfight nearly broke out on the House floor between Representatives Matt Gaetz and Mike Rogers.
It’s hard to view what happened last week in the House as anything but a sign of total incompetence from Republicans. And although Kevin McCarthy got elected Speaker by the end of the night on Friday, he and the office he sought paid a high price. The week’s chaos hurt the legitimacy and perception of the United States as a functioning and capable democracy. And given many of the concessions Kevin McCarthy made to those like Lauren Boebert, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Matt Gaetz, it is now the most extreme members of the Republican Party who control Kevin McCarthy and the Republican agenda.
Look no further than Kevin McCarthy’s first speech as Speaker of the House in the early morning hours of Saturday. During the speech, McCarthy made clear that Republicans won’t be spending the next two years addressing issues like lowering inflation or fixing healthcare. Instead, they will spend their time making the lives of Americans harder and abusing taxpayer money.
Already, in their first week of governing, Republicans are showing the American people exactly what their priorities are. On Monday, Republicans voted for a rules package that would make traditional Republicans like John McCain and Ronald Reagan roll in their graves. Not only did they cap defense spending at $75 billion — which would result in a 10% cut over the next decade — but they gutted key committees like the House Ethics Committee and enacted a one-vote no-confidence measure call for a vote on removing the Speaker.
On Tuesday, House Republicans passed a resolution creating the “Weaponization of Government” subcommittee chaired by Jim Jordan. This subcommittee is tasked with using tax-payer money to launch baseless investigations into the Biden administration.
And on Wednesday, contrary to the will of the majority of Americans, the first set of policy bills that House Republicans voted on and approved would make it harder to access abortion. After a historically bad midterm election for Republicans in which the basic right to reproductive healthcare was a major issue, you would think they’d have learned. But Republicans doubled down on their efforts to make it harder for women and young girls to control their bodies and determine their futures.
There is no indication that this will change in the weeks and months to come. There are no signs that the Republican Party will put an end to launching sham investigations and start focusing on the things that actually matter to the American people. There is no evidence that Republicans will learn from their mistakes in the past.
Every day — especially now that Republicans control the House — Americans can witness Republicans telling and showing us that they are a party that is unserious about governing or making our lives better. Now, every voter must believe what they are seeing and begin the work it will take to vote Republicans out of office in 2024.
The freedom to live our lives and the very life of our democratic republic are at stake.