The Poison We Live With

Published: November 12, 2021

By Jim Lichtman
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“Rot in hell.” “Traitor.”

Washington has become ground zero for a poisonous virus fueled by Donald Trump.

After 13 Republicans joined Democrats in a bipartisan bill on rebuilding America’s infrastructure—something most Americans need and want—they’re met with insults because the bill was part of a democratic president’s agenda.

“One caller told Representative Don Bacon of Nebraska that they hoped he slipped and fell down a staircase. The office of Representative Nicole Malliotakis of New York has been inundated with angry messages tagging her as a ‘traitor,’” The New York Times reports.

The poison injected into our democracy by one man who controls a vocal minority of the country is a devastating commentary on our times even as Republicans in Congress continue to be super-spreaders of the “Big Lie.”

When history is written—and it’s being written now—it will record the Trump era as the single greatest threat to American democracy since the Civil War.

Republicans Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney joined the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection for one reason: to determine the facts and find the truth.

“Almost all of you know,” Cheney said “in your hearts that what happened on Jan. 6 was profoundly wrong. You know that there is no evidence of widespread election fraud sufficient to overturn the election; you know that the Dominion voting machines were not corrupted by a foreign power. You know those claims are false. Yet President Trump repeats them almost daily.”

However for their temerity in seeking the truth, House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy calls them, “Pelosi Republicans.”

This is the same McCarthy who stood on the House floor and told his colleagues that “The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters, [and] He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding. These facts require immediate action by President Trump.”

The operative word here is “facts.” Not long after invoking that word, McCarthy hopped on a jet, flew to Trump’s Mar-a-Lag lair, and begged for forgiveness.

In an interview with Chris Wallace, the Fox News Sunday anchor directly asked McCarthy about a call he placed to the White House during the attack.

“During the Trump impeachment in February,” Wallace asked McCarthy, “a Republican congresswoman said that while the Jan. 6th riot was in full force, you phoned President Trump and asked him to call off his supporters. And according to you, she said, the president responded, ‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.’ Is she right? Is that what President Trump said to you?”

McCarthy’s response: “I was the first person to contact him when the riot was going on. He didn’t see it. He ended the call telling me, he’ll put something out to make sure to stop this. And that’s what he did, he put a video out later.”

“Quite a lot later,” Wallace points out. “But I’m asking you specifically, did he say to you, ‘I guess some people are more concerned about the election than you are?’”

McCarthy says, “my conversations with the president are my conversations with the president. I engaged in the idea of making sure we could stop what was going on inside the Capitol at that moment in time. The president said he would help.”

Wallace’s source is Jaime Herrera-Beutler, the Republican from Washington who detailed what McCarthy had told her about his Jan. 6 call with Trump. Here’s the key portion of a statement she tweeted on Feb. 12:

“When McCarthy finally reached the president on Jan. 6 and asked him to publicly and forcefully call off the riot, the president initially repeated the falsehood that it was Antifa that had breached the Capitol. McCarthy refuted that and told the president that these were Trump supporters. That’s when, according to McCarthy, the president said, ‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.’

“Since I publicly announced my decision to vote for impeachment, I have shared these details in countless conversations with constituents and colleagues, and multiple times through the media and other public forums.”

McCarthy is just one  symptom of the poison we live with; the lead in the water system infecting American democracy, and the only available vaccine is fortitude, the moral courage to stand by the truth and do the jobs they were elected to do. Most Republicans, however, are choosing not to get the shot. Big surprise.


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