Today, threats to US national security abound, including Putin’s nuclear saber-rattling and his invasion of Ukraine, China’s intentions regarding Taiwan, and climate change. However, none is as dangerous, terrifying, or as existentially threatening to the United States as a homegrown threat: the Republican Party. Republican politicians have shown us the danger they pose if they regain power, and have previewed their intent to use tactics practiced on January 6, 2021, to steal the 2022 and 2024 elections if they do not win.
From GOP efforts to limit voting rights, to eerie admiration for the world’s autocrats and dictators, to hostility to international laws and alliances, to contempt for minorities and populations in underserved areas, the danger the Republican Party represents to the United States is clear. Three examples shine bright lights on the danger the Republican Party presents to the United States’ national security.
Faith in the institutions of government is central to an effective democracy. While we all grumble about specific bits of the government, Republicans have run a serious decades-long effort to lessen the effectiveness of government institutions to their benefit. Should Republicans retake a Capitol Hill majority in 2022, they will continue to methodically shake citizens’ trust in our institutions. Mitch McConnell used his role as Senate Majority Leader to withhold one Supreme Court nominee from President Obama, and one from President Biden, when he refused to give Merrick Garland a hearing in 2016, and insisted on shoving through the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett even as people were already voting in 2020. These nominations have given the conservative judges a super majority— something that would not exist if McConnell and his Senate Republican supporters had not ignored settled operating procedures.
Worse, these conservative justices ignore precedent and give outsize weight to their own beliefs, ignoring fifty years of history and eviscerating a right women have had for fifty years. The court is now seen as illegitimate by much of the population—not only for its “opinions,” too many of which are wildly out of sync with most of the population, but also for the way the Republican majority juggled the nomination process. If Americans do not have faith in the justice the Supreme Court is supposed to demonstrate, our democracy is in danger.
Despite a small group of GOP Senators who show new interest in some gun safety legislation, the majority of Republican legislators will continue to bow to the most extreme gun rights advocates and the NRA, blocking any and all sensible gun legislation. Republicans will ensure that mass shooters are well armed and gunmakers are legally shielded while children in schools, people in houses of worship, or those grocery shopping or at movies, music festivals or night clubs remain undefended targets. Rather than passing gun laws that the majority of Americans support, Republicans will spout NRA propaganda, and will relax what few remaining protections we have. Republican governors like Greg Abbot in Texas, promote legislation that allows gun purchases with no background checks, no training, and no licensing. Republicans will argue that laws won’t help, despite evidence from states with more stringent controls, that laws do lower incidents of
violence. The Republican response to mass murder, exemplified by Ted Cruz is stunning: “Heidi and I are fervently lifting up in prayer the children and families in the horrific shooting in Uvalde.” 24 hours after the murders at Robb Elementary School in Texas, the NRA held a convention in Houston, attended by many of the elected GOP representatives from Texas.
As for Republican hostility to our democracy: CPAC—a conservative organization founded in 1974, comprised mainly of Republican politicians, media and citizens, just wrapped up a meeting in Hungary, a country run by autocrat Viktor Orban, described by Michael Tomasky in the New Republic as “a one-party, right-wing state where the ruling ideology encourages racial hatred of minorities (Jews and the Roma).” Tucker Carlson, Mark Meadows, and Donald Trump all joined Orban and spoke at the meeting. Think about that for a minute: the current leader of the Republican Party, his former chief of staff, and the most popular host of Fox “News,” the GOP propaganda wing, all spoke to this group. These dictator-wannabees are the people who will be running the United States should the Republicans take back power.
And, lest anyone think that today’s Republican Party will respect a democratic election, Michael Luttig, a conservative’s conservative judge, recently warned that the January 6, 2021 riot was a rehearsal for 2024:
The Republicans’ mystifying claim to this day that Trump did, or would have, received more votes than Joe Biden in 2020 were it not for actual voting fraud, is but the shiny object that Republicans have tauntingly and disingenuously dangled before the American public for almost a year and a half now to distract attention from their far more ambitious objective.
That objective is not somehow to rescind the 2020 election, as they would have us believe. That’s constitutionally impossible. Trump’s and the Republicans’ far more ambitious objective is to execute successfully in 2024 the very same plan they failed in executing in 2020 and to overturn the 2024 election if Trump or his anointed successor loses again in the next quadrennial contest. The last presidential election was a dry run for the next.
Despite the challenges our country faces from external threats such as Russia or China, the biggest national security threat we face is a homegrown one: the Republican Party, bent on permanently instituting a Hungarian-style one-party state in the U.S. Today’s GOP crowd may not be as inept as Trump, and might actually succeed, unless we all demonstrate the power of our votes in 2022 and 2024. So far, voting is our super-power, but only if we use it.