The other attack inside the Capitol that we need to talk about

By Joe Berkowitz

Although many facts around the Capitol siege of January 6 remain murky a week later, one thing is abundantly clear: That day synthesized two unforgivable acts of Republican hostility from the past year into a single multilayered attack.

The most prominent assault, of course, was inciting an insurrection using lies about the election. Over 130 GOP politicians pledged to challenge Joe Biden’s electoral votes last week, long after any reasonable person should have concluded that the former VP won the presidential race fair and square.

The other aggression that occurred that day, however, is similarly insidious, even though it hasn’t caught nearly enough attention yet.

As of Tuesday, January 12, three Democratic congresspeople—Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey, Pramila Jayapal of Washington, and Brad Schneider of Illinois—have tested positive for COVID-19 since the attack, when they were forced to take shelter with Republican colleagues who refused to wear masks. This outcome was so foreseeable that Rep. Jayapal even voiced her concerns about it to journalist Rebecca Traister last week.

After almost a year of taking every precaution, these three representatives—one of whom (Coleman) is a 75-year-old cancer survivor—had to contract the virus in such a grotesque, easily avoidable way.

Somehow, even during a crisis of their own making, Republican politicians managed to create another crisis on top of it.

The day after Donald Trump tested positive for COVID-19, back in October, QAnon-brainwashed aspiring candidate Deanna Lorraine tweeted a pertinent question: “Does anyone else find it odd that no prominent Democrats have had the virus but the list of Republicans goes on and on?”

This is what is known in certain circles as a “self-own.”

While Lorraine was wrong in that no prominent Democratic leaders have had COVID-19—Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Virginia governor Ralph Northam are among those who’ve tested positive—she was certainly correct about the imbalance. But the answer to her question is obvious: Republicans on the whole have taken coronavirus far less seriously than Democrats, and they are also far less likely to wear masks. It’s not a matter of opinion, but an easily observed reality with a massive breadcrumb trail of video footage and tweets for future historians.

It’s no coincidence that some of the GOP politicians who have come out most aggressively against mask safety and the concept of lockdowns, though, are also the ones who have been most vocal about “securing the integrity of our elections,” the preferred euphemism for promulgating the Big Lie that the 2020 presidential election was rigged.

Here’s Representative Jim Jordan and Senator Ted Cruz urging families to flout travel and mask advisories to celebrate Thanksgiving in person, despite the surge in COVID-19 deaths:

And now, as Americans die from COVID-19 at a jacked-up rate of at least 3,500 per day, here’s a look back at where Jim Jordan and Ted Cruz stand on the election:

The tribal distrust in mask safety and the American electoral system, coming from people who had been known as The Party of No before its members all began saying Yes to every last Donald Trump win, is unequivocally destructive and morally repugnant. How can anyone continue being this wrong, this publicly, with these tragic results, and continue having the opportunity to do so again?

I would say that enough is enough, but we’re well past that.

It won’t bring the dead back to life if Jim Jordan suddenly stopped encouraging families to flout COVID regulations, and it won’t remove either the literal sh*t or the spectral presence of the Confederate flag from the Capitol halls if Cruz retracts any of his previous incitements. These two should be purged from politics, at the very least, and shamed as examples of an outdated, dishonorable mode of conservatism.

Democrats, who now control all three branches of government, have a lot of introspection to do themselves over which previous actions (or inaction) from back when they last held this much power may have helped pave the way for President Donald Trump.

After last week’s insurrection, however, the current GOP has revealed itself once and for all as a multitiered danger to America, one that deserves to go the way of a 19th-century political movement with which it shares far too many similarities: the Know Nothing party.

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