My colleague Nicole Lafond already discussed this in the post immediately below this one. But it’s so bizarre I simply have to discuss it as well. As Nicole noted, Kevin McCarthy and Trump toady Jim Banks want what I guess we could call backsies on the whole Jan 6th committee thing.
Republicans had plenty of opportunities to get a commission or committee in which they not only had complete control over who served on the Republican side but veto power over any significant action the body took. They refused that and after stonewalling for months ended up with one that gave the final say on membership to Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi accepted some McCarthy nominations but put her foot down in the case of two reps who are such consistent supporters of the Big Lie and the insurrection that it was absurd to place them on the committee investigating either. Now Banks is sending letters to executive departments claiming that he is in fact that rightful ranking member (i.e., top Republican) on the committee.
The most generous read of this is that it’s yet more Trumper theater. It seems unlikely that any Biden appointee at any relevant department is going to get confused about who’s on the committee. They watch TV too. But it is of a piece with the larger story. We get to try to overthrow the Republic and equal billing on the committee charged with investigating what we did. We also get to stonewall and block the investigation from starting for months. But if you decide to do it without us – because we refused to participate – well, we still get to participate.
This is hardly a surprising move from the crew that lost the election and lost fairly badly but aren’t interested in the course open to people who lose elections: admitting you lost and moving on.
We’ve spoken a lot about Trumpism as the grievance politics par excellence. Every political movement has grievances of some sort. There’s nothing wrong with that. Indeed, petitioning for the “redress of grievances” is literally written into the constitution. But Trumpism is basically all grievances and grievances in a way that is the flip side of accountability. Rules aren’t fair – when they’re applied to us. The law is “very unfair,” as Trump often puts it – when it’s applied to us. Elections are fair – as long as we win.
Is this privilege or lack of accountability or is it really simply a politics of power? It is really no different from the authoritarian impulse and hyper-masculinity politics that pervades Trumpism. We should have the power. Because we should. And anything that stands in the way of that is by definition unfair. Because we should have power.
If you buy a house and you show up to move in and someone else has set up shop in several of the rooms, well, that’s not fair. Because it’s your house. If the only legitimate power is yours then everything in a democracy turns out to be unfair. This kind of grievance politics masquerades as defensive when it is in fact purely aggressive.
It is all of a piece.