Republicans made the weather. Now they stand in the rain and say “s***, it’s raining!”
There’s a line in the film Cold Mountain, about a western North Carolina village during the Civil War, that has always stood out to me. In it, Ruby (Renee Zellweger) laments the current crisis engulfing their land. “Every piece of this is man’s bullshit,” she sobs. “They call this war a cloud over the land, but they made the weather and then they stand in the rain and say ‘shit, it’s raining!’”
That line has been on my mind a lot lately as I’ve seen reports — like this from CNN’s Jamie Gangel — that House Republicans want to vote to impeach Donald Trump for his role in last week’s violent insurrection at the Capitol, but that “they legitimately fear for their lives and their families’ lives.” That any member of Congress should live in mortal terror over a House vote is appalling and should be unequivocally condemned. I am outraged that this is where we are as a nation, and my sympathy is with those frightened Representatives.
But every piece of this is the GOP’s bullshit. They made the weather, and now they stand in the rain and say ‘shit, it’s raining!’
When the Republican Party threw its lot in with Donald Trump, who from the moment he came down that golden escalator started spouting off white nationalist and fascistic talking points, what did they think was going to happen? When they started courting votes from people who march through the streets of Virginia shouting “Jews will not replace us” and who storm state capitols with guns and plot to kidnap governors, did they honestly think the crowd would never come for them?
I always knew this moment would come. The moment when Republicans realised they’d lost control of the beast they thought they’d tamed, like when Roy of Sigfried and Roy was mauled by his tiger. It was inevitable. There was always going to come a time when elected Republicans found their interests no longer aligned with the armed and braying mob they had spent years whipping into a frenzy, nor with the demagogic leader that mob worships like a god-emperor. They were always going to come to the bridge too far, one they didn’t want to cross (whether out of principle or because of their own political ambitions) but which the mob urged them across at gunpoint.
These Republicans have no one to blame but themselves. They have spent the past five years either benefiting from, actively encouraging, or turning a blind eye to the violent fascists which were taking over their party. They spent the five years before that sowing the seeds of populist revolt through the Tea Party rallies, turning a blind eye to effigies of President Obama being lynched and amplifying endless cries about Benghazi. Well, here we are. An American Benghazi, instigated by their own foolish quest for power and orchestrated against them by their own supporters.
Now they’re scared. Scared like the rest of us have been for years, living in fear that a white nationalist will shoot us in our church or that a far-right terrorist will blow us up at work. We tried to warn them, to make them see the monster they were creating. But with the hubris of Doctor Frankenstein, they continued their work unabated, piecing together rotten parts of the body politic — an arm from the KKK, a leg from anti-Semites, an itchy trigger finger of the militia movement — to create a grotesque and unstoppable force for evil and untold carnage.
To add insult to literal injury, these craven Republicans can’t even have the courage to repent. They know what they did. They see it clear enough to be frightened for themselves and their loved ones, which means they see it for what it is: an existential threat to the Republic, that very thing from which their party derives its name and which they took an oath to defend. Yet they dare not acknowledge the error of their ways. Not publicly. They refuse to accept any blame in what has occurred, in creating the weather that led to this storm. They certainly cannot muster the courage of their convictions to do what is right.
Unlike the insurrectionists Republicans spent years egging on, I do not wish them harm. As I said, I have sympathy for those House GOP members who fear for their safety and the safety of their loved ones just as I have sympathy for anyone, anywhere who lives in fear of violet retribution from an angry authoritarian mob.
What I don’t have is patience. The time of Republican reckoning is now. Reckoning with their conscience. Reckoning with their God. Reckoning with the nation they have wronged and the oath they have broken. I do not have time — the nation does not have time — for cowards so afraid of their own voters they cannot do what is right. What is needed.
They made the weather. Now it’s time to come in out of the rain.
Skylar Baker-Jordan is a freelance writer based in Tennessee. His work has appeared at the Independent, Huff Post UK, Salon, and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter @skylarjordan and become a sustainer at www.patreon.com/skylarjordan