It’s part of What We’ve Learned, a series of thoughts on the meaning and legacy of the Trump years.
“We condemn the violence that has taken place here in the strongest terms”, Vice President Mike Pence sang in the House bedroom on the night of January 6, after supporters of his boss stormed the U.S. Capitol and devastated it in a siege that left five people dead. “We mourn the loss of life in these sacred halls, as well as the injuries suffered by those who defended our Capitol today,” Pence continued. “Violence never wins. Freedom wins, and it is still the home of the people.
It sounded like a consensus. “The violence must stop,” Republican Senator from Missouri Josh Hawley wrote in his official statement on the insurgency, despite giving the crowd a pomp of encouragement before the assault. Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who had joined Hawley in backing President Donald Trump’s efforts to reverse President-elect Joe Biden’s November victory, wrote on the same theme: “The Department of Justice should vigorously prosecute all those who were involved in these brazen acts of violence. . “
But it wasn’t until brazen violence left blood on the Capitol floor that Republicans embraced this particular anti-violence message. For more than five years, from the time Donald Trump entered the presidential race, the party had increasingly engaged in a different stance on the morality – and political value – of violence: it was useful, and they would use it.
More than “winning,” more than prosperity, violence was the rhetorical heart of the Trump movement. Ordinary Republicans have been told over and over again that people who love Trump are literally attacked by their political opponents, and that history and patriotism calls on them to fight back. A grim array of cultural Marxists, migrant caravans and Muslims came to meet them.snakesBlack Lives Matter Rioters and a Global Antifa Plot. They were passengers storming the cockpit of the Flight 93 election, witnesses of American carnage, champions of the Angel Moms mourning their slain children.
Their president greeted their aggression as healthy enthusiasm and justified it by incessantly inventing or exaggerating stories of leftist and non-white violence, for which there was little or no evidence. When Trump was not openly celebrating the violence of its supporters, again and again, he has ignored, minimized or concealed evidence of violence perpetrated by right-wing and state actors. He promised his audience to break free from old niceties, and the right to violence was at the heart of that freedom.
And where the president led, a whole national political party followed. Last August, on prime-time television, the Republican National Convention chose to present Mark and Patricia McCloskey as the centerpiece of the Trump campaign pitch.
The nation first encountered the McCloskeys in late June, when they emerged from their St. Louis mansion barefoot, wielding weapons, to confront a Crowd passing Black Lives Matter protesters. Patricia grabbed a small handgun with his finger on the trigger; her husband, dressed in a pink Brooks Brothers polo shirt, was holding an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle. Shouting “Get the hell out of my neighborhood” and “Private property – get out,” the agitated couple waved their guns at the protesters, who in turn just pointed at phones, recording the show.
In their recorded convention speech, the McCloskeys were shown sitting under dim lighting on a plush sofa, dark wooden walls behind them. Their hair was …
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