In events after Trump’s presidency, you won’t find the state’s top GOP officials in droves. In fact, at a rally in Georgia last month, Trump slammed the state’s Republican leaders for refusing to help him illegally call off the 2020 election. Trump even told the crowd that he would prefer the potential Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams as governor to his current Republican colleague, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.
Saturday’s rally in Iowa, however, was different. This was attended by longtime Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, Iowa Representatives Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Ashley Hinson, and other officials. traditional republicans. Some of those same people, who just nine months ago criticized Trump for his role in the Capitol Riots, were now only too happy to be seen supporting him. This is politics at its worst – and at its most dangerous for our democracy.
The most hypocritical of the group is Senator Grassley, who on January 6 was escorted by his security guards to a safe place to protect him from the pro-Trump mob that had besieged the Capitol. Grassley, who voted to certify the 2020 election, made a veiled reference to Trump in his statement, noting that post-election lawsuits had failed and that “politicians in Washington should not guess the courts once they ruled “.
In February, however, after Trump’s impeachment trial for allegedly inciting the Jan.6 insurgency (claims Trump denied), Grassley was even more blunt in his criticism. He said in a statement that “President Trump continued to claim that the election was stolen even though the courts did not back his claims” and “demeaned and harassed elected officials across the country to get what ‘he wanted”. Grassley added that Trump “had encouraged his own and staunch Vice President Mike Pence to take extraordinary and unconstitutional action during the Electoral College count.”
Grassley continued bluntly, “There is no doubt in my mind that President Trump’s language was extreme, aggressive and irresponsible,” sharing his view that everyone involved in the attack – including Trump – ” must take responsibility for their destructive actions that day. ”
Fast forward to Saturday, and Grassley beamed as Trump offered “full and utter approval for re-election” to the 88-year-old senator. Grassley replied, “If I didn’t take the approval of someone who has 91% of the Republican voters in Iowa, I wouldn’t be too smart.”
For Grassley, it was “smart” to accept the approval of the man who spent Saturday’s rally spouting the same lies that led to the January 6 violence that caused Grassley to hide in fear. Trump’s litany of dangerous electoral lies at his rally in Iowa ranged from irresponsible claims he won Wisconsin “by a lot” in 2020, to lies that the results of the recently released Arizona audit supported his false claim that he had actually won this state. He even said that: “First of all, [Biden] was not elected, okay? The crowd responded to Trump’s buffet of lies by chanting, “Trump won!” Trump won! ”
But Grassley was not alone in his duplicity. GOP representative Ashley Hinson also attended the rally, which issued a statement on Jan. 13 on the attack on the Capitol, saying: “I believe the president bears the responsibility, and that’s why I have him. personally urged to recall those who violently stormed the Capitol last week. ” Hinson added: “I wish he had spoken earlier, but he didn’t.”
Yet his take on Trump’s role in the Jan.6 domestic terrorist act, as the FBI classified it, did not prevent Hinson from attending Saturday’s rally. Nor was the fact that days earlier the Senate had released a 400-page report titled “Subverting Justice,” on Trump’s efforts to use the Justice Department to help him illegally overthrow the 2020 election. In fact, none of the Iowa GOP elected officials who attended the rally seemed concerned that Trump had nine times called on the Justice Department to undermine the election results in what appears to be an attempt to Rebellion.
You don’t have to be a historian to recognize the danger of a political party showing blind loyalty to a person. Just a few months ago, these GOP elected officials rightly criticized Trump and his role in the false election claims that led to the January 6 attack. With their presence at his rally this weekend, it seems they have now changed their tone.
Maybe they are now okay with Trump’s lies. But their about-face is more likely to come from recent polls showing that 91% of Republicans in Iowa view Trump favorably. That, and not wanting to face the wrath of Trump like Georgia Gov. Kemp, Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, and other Republicans who dared to speak honestly about the election.
But who knows which whim Trump will be the next litmus test to stay in his good graces? Still Grassley, the longest-serving US senator from Iowa, thinks it is “smart” policy to stop criticizing Trump for his anti-American attack on our democracy and to congratulate him on pursuing an eighth mandate in the Senate, it is clear that the party is no longer defined by political ideas but by absolute loyalty to Trump and his influence. To put it bluntly, today’s GOP is how democracies die.
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