On June 12, 2017, Republican Representative from Montana’s at-large district, Greg Gianforte, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault. On May 24th, Gianforte body-slammed Guardian journalist Ben Jacobs to the ground after Jacobs had the gall to ask him a question about imminent health care legislation that Gianforte was about to vote on. Here is audio of the incident.
Last night, the president of the United States praised Republican congressman Gianforte for his crime.
This is yet another chapter in what MSNBC’s Chris Hayes has correctly characterized as Trump and the GOP’s fraudulent stance on “law and order.”
The honesty underlying Trump and the GOP’s lies goes something like this:
“Your criminals are bad. They need to be locked up. Our criminals? They win elections! Their criminality helps them win elections! We need more criminals because they know how ruthless you need to be in politics! Any criminality is worth it anyway, because of the judges! (by the way, thanks for all your help with that, Chuck Schumer!)”
This is fascism. Trump and the Republican Party are telling the country that criminals like Greg Gianforte are heroes, and “enemies” like journalists or Democrats deserve the criminal acts perpetrated on them, or to be locked up. We are then gaslit and told that our outrage is what grows their support, and this drumbeat is steady enough that the mainstream media has half-heartedly bought into it, and outlets like the New York Times are now profiling fascists in a more flattering manner than how the fascists describe themselves.
The Wall Street Journal even went as far as to endorse a fascist to take over the presidency in Brazil. Jair Bolosnaro has said horrible things, like if he had a gay son, he’d be unable to love his son and “prefer that he die in an accident.” Bolosnaro also said of a woman lawmaker, “she’s not my type. I would never rape her. I’m not a rapist, but if I were, I wouldn’t rape her because she doesn’t deserve it.” The WSJ editorial board described statements like those as “politically incorrect things about identity politics.”
The key thing to keep in mind is that Trump’s buffoonery and criminality is simply a front for the buffoonery and criminality of his wealthy supporters in the Republican Party. Major capital in America has proven that if they have a choice between giving up some profits to the government in order to fund public benefits or embracing fascism, they won’t hesitate to move towards the latter. This isn’t just a Trump problem we have, and it isn’t new.
In 2008, Wall Street and the housing market combined to nuke the economy, and the fact that no one went to jail for this widespread fraud that could only be made possible by consciously fraudulent decisions executed by executive-level decision-makers is proof that some citizens are financially insulated from the legal system. Trump is just expanding that bubble to include nondescript congressmen from Montana. This is America. Trump is the GOP, and the GOP is Trump. It has always been like this. Major capital embeds their political priorities in racism and culture wars, and Americans have been manipulated to march on our financiers’ behalf by countless snake oil salesmen like Trump.
It doesn’t have to be like this. The good still outnumber the bad in this country (the problem is that the bad + apathetic outnumber the good), which is why Republicans are frantically stripping the vote from as many people as possible. “Law and order for thee but not for me” is tyranny, and when exposed to this odious ideology, most Americans recoil. Too many of our fellow citizens have been subject to this double standard for too long, and Trump is actually helping more of us realize this fact as he expands his web of criminality ever further into the conservative movement. If 56% of millennials vote next month, Republicans will lose big, and then maybe we can begin to turn the tide against this literally poisonous establishment that named Donald freaking Trump as its standard-bearer.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.