Just when you thought the Republican Party couldn’t possibly stoop any lower, 2020 happened. Instead of helping people, the GOP pushed dangerous conspiracy theories, flouted public health guidance, and doubled-down on voter suppression tactics. In fact, Republican state legislators engaged in such deplorable conduct, it’s hard to even remember everything that happened. Here are the top 5 worst failures by GOP legislators.
#5: Republicans make it harder for people to vote
The GOP’s refusal to ease voting during an unprecedented public health crisis brought the party’s long track record of voter suppression to a whole new level. They immediately set out to restrict mail-in and early voting, politicizing a global pandemic to keep themselves in power. Wisconsin Republicans recklessly pushed forward with their in-person spring election despite a lack of poll workers and many closed polling places, refusing to mail ballots in the hopes that it would lower turnout and help their conservative candidate. In Kentucky, Republicans tightened voter ID requirements even though state closures made it impossible for voters to obtain said identifications. Pennsylvania Republicans pushed legislation to ban ballot drop boxes and cut early voting by almost 3 weeks, leading to outrage among the Democratic caucus. Meanwhile, Texas Republicans fought tooth and nail to ensure that people afraid of catching COVID were barred from voting by mail, requiring folks to show up in person and risk exposure. Forcing people to choose between their lives and their vote is cruel, dangerous, and about as undemocratic as it gets.
#4: Republicans oppose public health recommendations
From day one, Republicans made the conscious choice to politicize the pandemic and dismiss medical doctors and public health experts as elitist liberals. In states like Georgia, Florida, and Texas, Republicans rushed to reopen nonessential businesses and told workers that they would be kicked off of unemployment if they were too afraid to go to work. Republican lawmakers from Colorado to Michigan to Wisconsin to Arizona joined dangerous right-wing fringe protests, where they compared public health guidance to Nazism. An Iowa Republican had the nerve to argue against all public health measures, claiming, “Mother Nature created the virus, I feel the best solution is for human beings to be healthy enough to withstand it.” And of course, many GOP legislators lamented mask-wearing as the greatest assault to our freedom since the British tea tax. Republicans lied to the American people and they have blood on their hands.
Here is video of State Rep. Jeff Shipley, a Republican legislator from the Fairfield-based swing district, saying, “This virus isn’t even killing anybody” to a crowd of Anti-Vaxxers at the Statehouse pic.twitter.com/baKtXivX7Y— Iowa Starting Line (@IAStartingLine) June 3, 2020
#3 Republicans defend & embolden domestic terrorists
In October, the FBI revealed that right-wing domestic terrorists conspired to kidnap, try, and execute Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer because of her public health measures. These extremists were emboldened by the words and actions of Republican state leaders who vilified the governor, calling her a “dictator” who felt she was “above the law” and was “taking our freedoms away from us.” Michigan Republicans attended rallies alongside these militia members, who were encouraged to stalk the halls of the capitol with assault rifles and intimidate any legislator who might consider supporting public health legislation. After the FBI revealed their domestic terror plot, GOP state House candidate Paul Smith jumped to the perpetrators’ defense, claiming it was a “totally bogus sham” and that “these citizens never did anything illegal.” Republicans never took responsibility for fanning the flames of hate.
Looks like William Null, one of the men arrested for allegedly planning to kidnap Gov. Whitmer, was on stage at an anti-lockdown rally last May in Grand Rapids. Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey also spoke at the event.https://t.co/tSzDDVUIIz pic.twitter.com/feium2KRmw— Malachi Barrett (@PolarBarrett) October 9, 2020
#2: Republicans hide COVID diagnoses from their Democratic colleagues
In Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Virginia, Ohio, and more, Republican state legislators who tested positive for coronavirus warned fellow members of their GOP caucus, but hid the outbreaks from their Democratic colleagues — endangering the lives of their families, aides, and staff. These same Republicans who concealed their COVID diagnoses also denied the devastating impact of the pandemic, ignored scientists, and openly flouted public health precautions, like mask-wearing. If they won’t even keep their own colleagues safe, it’s clear we can’t trust them to look out for our best interest either.
I am incredibly disappointed with the lack of disclosure and communication from Delegate Wright and the House Republican Caucus regarding Delegate Wright’s reported positive COVID-19 test just days after House Members met in-person. pic.twitter.com/lyXRHC0Htu— Eileen Filler-Corn (@EFillerCorn) September 22, 2020
#1: QAnon candidates take root in the GOP
Last year, most of us didn’t even know what QAnon was. Now its conspiracy theories have infiltrated the Republican Party, with lawmakers both new and old embracing the bizarre movement, from statehouses to the US Congress. The FBI has labeled QAnon a domestic terror threat and adherents have been linked to acts of violence across the country. The lies it promotes are outrageous and unbelievable, but after years of courting extremist elements, it appears Republicans have been consumed by the monster they created.