Sorry, GOP, You Don’t Get to Wash Your Hands of Violent Insurrection

Don't be fooled by a bunch of Lady MacBeths

On January 6, President Donald Trump incited insurrectionists to storm the United States Capitol in order to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s victory. As the mob broke the glass on Capitol doors and burst into the chambers, Republican leaders across America tried to distance themselves from the violence.

The very same Republicans who have been slow to congratulate Biden. The very same Republicans who had no problem with the violence at Trump rallies or the credible accusations of sexual assault against the president. The very same Republicans who supported the violent policies that tore families apart at the border. Yes — those same Republicans now denounced the violence incited by the president.

This is the equivalent of tossing a match on gasoline-soaked lumber and tweeting out statements condemning the fire.

“I hate it to end this way,” mourned South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, after delivering a punchline-filled speech on the very same floor where, hours before, a mob had threatened to upend Democracy. 

“This behavior is unacceptable and not who we are as Americans,” tweeted Iowa’s Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds. Three days after the AP called the election for Biden, Reynolds issued a statement implying the election wasn’t fair or transparent.

Newly elected Republican Iowa Rep. Ashley Hinson decried the violence in a tweet as well. But just days before, Hinson put her name on a letter that reiterated concerns about the election process and reiterated false claims that there were questions about its legitimacy: “We, like most Americans, are outraged at the significant abuses in our election system resulting from the reckless adoption of mail-in ballots and the lack of safeguards maintained to guarantee that only legitimate votes are cast and counted.” 

To be fair, that letter at its core was a statement that asserted that Congress cannot overthrow the election results. But the constant undermining of the Democratic process — giving baseless allegations credence and airtime — is part of what got us here.

Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, who has the moral integrity of wet cat food, decried the violence by rioters. But hours before, on his way into the Capitol, he’d given them a fist salute.

So many Republicans across America were hastily grabbing their pearls that they must have collectively asphyxiated and gotten amnesia about their role in this violence.

So many Lady MacBeths futilely washing their hands of complicity. So many Pontius Pilates, sending people to die, then asking not to be blamed.

But they do not get a pass. Every single Republican who did not vote to impeach this president. Every single one who overlooked his racism, his ableism, his misogyny because it benefited them politically — they are just as complicit as the president, as the men whose fists broke Capitol glass.

Americans have short memories and an appetite for a shallow hero. And I am afraid we will forget. We’ll let these men and women whitewash their reputations; hide their rot behind Botox, nice suits, and glossy hair. 

But forgetting and ignoring the violence right in front of us was how we got here in the first place. Republicans and Democrats were too easy to dismiss Trump’s words as simple rhetoric, even as violence by white supremacists increased. 

Trying to put out the flames once you’ve been burned with the fire you started doesn’t make you, or anyone, a hero.