Maybe the Republicans Have It Right
“Maybe the Republicans Have It Right.” Have I lost my mind? That’s always possible. But here’s what I am thinking.
A fair number of Republicans seem to think the best way to handle Donald Trump at this point is to ignore him. A malignant tumor has no blood supply of its own. It grows by stealing nourishment from healthy parts of the body. Trump thrives by stealing attention. That’s the blood supply for this human malignancy.
Just to be clear I am not talking about Republicans like Kevin “the Invertebrate” McCarthy, the House Minority Leader. Nor do I have in mind Mitch “Machiavelli Was a Wimp” McConnell.
I am thinking of a guy like Ohio Congressman Adam Gonzalez. On Saturday night Donald Trump got his Trump Rally Show cranked up in Lorain, Ohio. Why Lorain, you may ask? Because it’s next door to the Congressional District of Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, one of the ten GOP members of the House who voted to impeach Trump after January 6.
Trump came to Lorain to tell his base that Anthony Gonzalez is a really “bad news,” and has to go. “He’s a grandstanding RINO, not respected in D.C., who voted for the unhinged, unconstitutional, illegal impeachment witch hunt. … He’s a sellout, and a fake Republican, and a disgrace to your state.” What did Gonzalez have to say about this vintage Trump treatment?
He missed it. “Took my wife on a date,” he told a reporter who wanted his reaction to the former President’s taunts. “Didn’t pay any attention.” When filled in on all the insults that he’d missed, there was a pause—and then a chuckle: “That’s actually not so bad!”
“I couldn’t care less about what the former President says about me. I really couldn’t,” Gonzalez continued. “What I do care about is the fact that he continues to double and triple down on the election lies that led to insurrection on January 6 and very likely could lead to more violence in the future.
“The most important thing that all elected Republicans can do right now is tell the truth to the country and our voters about the fact that we had a legitimate election and President Trump lost. Anything short of that is an abdication of duty.” (Quoted at “Dispatch”)
To be sure, ignoring Trump, not giving him the attention he craves, was a harder play when he was in office. But now . . . it may be the best move. There may not be a lot of them, but some number of decent Republicans are managing Trump by ignoring him. They may be right.
This same weekend former Attorney General Bill Barr told The Atlantic that Trump’s claims of that the election had been rigged and he had won were, “bullshit.” Not exactly ignoring Trump, but still dismissive.
Maybe Mitt Romney said it best, on CNN yesterday. “There’s a growing recognition that this (Trump’s rallies and claims of having won the 2020 election) are a bit like professional wrestling. It’s entertaining, but it’s not real. And I know people want to say, yeah, they believe in the ‘Big Lie’ in some cases, but I think people recognize that it’s a lot of show and bombast. But it’s going nowhere. The election is over. It was fair . . . let’s move on.” (Quoted by Heather Cox Richardson).
If I remember Augustine rightly, he argued that evil has no substantive reality. It is was an absence, a privation of the good. Ontologically, there’s no there there. As such, we shouldn’t give it too much attention.
Sometimes evil and bad acting must be confronted directly. And sometimes simply not giving it the oxygen of attention is a sound strategy.