The GOP: A Cornered and Wounded Animal

It’s said that wounded and cornered animals are the most dangerous. The GOP is acting like a wounded and cornered animal. And what’s rich is that the GOP wounded and cornered itself.

Yesterday’s happenings in Tennessee may prove to be one of those flashpoints that change everything, like the Stonewall Uprising in 1969 or Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on a bus in 1955. Before yesterday, hardly anyone outside Tennessee had ever heard of State Reps. Justin Jones, Justin J. Pearson, and Gloria Johnson. Now they’re going to be media celebrities. Way to go, Tennessee GOP. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

BTW, members of the Nashville city council are saying they will reappoint Justin Jones back to the Tennessee House. It appears there’s a majority vote, although I don’t think it’s been taken yet. Justin Pearson represents part of the city of Memphis, and I would think he would receive similar support, although I haven’t heard anything specific except that the Shelby County Board of Commissioners may meet sometime in the next few days to discuss what to do.

See Mike Allen and Zachary Basu at Vox, The GOP’s Epic Losing Streak. The GOP has been falling short of election expectations since 2018. And by continuing to rally around Trump, they are putting themselves in danger of a massive shellacking in 2024. At some level, some of them ought to be able to see this. But they seem unable to change course nonetheless.

The Tennessee episode was not just blatantly racist, but it also illuminated the GOP’s unwillingness to deal with gun violence in any way except to make more guns available.

Charlie Kirk, the conservative founder and president of Turning Point USA, said during an organizational event on Wednesday that gun deaths in exchange for the preservation of Second Amendment rights is part of America’s reality. …

… “You will never live in a society when you have an armed citizenry and you won’t have a single gun death,” Kirk said at a Turning Point USA Faith event on Wednesday, as reported by Media Matters for America. “That is nonsense. It’s drivel. But I am—I think it’s worth it.

“I think it’s worth to have a cost of, unfortunately, some gun deaths every single year so that we can have the Second Amendment to protect our other God-given rights. That is a prudent deal. It is rational. Nobody talks like this. They live in a complete alternate universe.”

He added that “having an armed citizenry comes with a price, and that is part of liberty.” Other solutions he mentioned included armed guards at school buildings, as well as “having more fathers in the home.”

Kirk also compared gun deaths to fatalities resulting from automobile accidents.

“Having an armed citizenry comes with a price, and that is part of liberty,” he said. “Driving comes with a price—50,000, 50,000, 50,000 people die on the road every year. That’s a price. You get rid of driving, you’d have 50,000 less auto fatalities. But we have decided that the benefit of driving—speed, accessibility, mobility, having products, services is worth the cost of 50,000 people dying on the road.

“So we need to be very clear that you’re not going to get gun deaths to zero. It will not happen. You could significantly reduce them through having more fathers in the home, by having more armed guards in front of schools. We should have a honest and clear reductionist view of gun violence, but we should not have a utopian one.”

I suspect he was speaking for most Republicans. He’s making a straw man argument, of course. Nobody iexpect zero gun deaths. But having the same rate of firearm deaths as, say, Canada or Switzerland — especially where children are concerned — would be nice. Gun ownership is legal in both Canada and Switzerland, btw.

The chart above is based on 2020 data, btw. I believe it’s worse now.

Basically, Kirk’s words show us how far Republicans will go to not admit guns are a problem. They cannot admit it even to themselves. They will continue to toss out the same old talking points about “gun free zones” and “law abiding citizens” versus “criminals” that don’t apply to the real world. Guns are absolutely sacrosanct to them now, more so than children. Ironically, embryos are also more sacrosanct than children. Weird. Last night’s vote in the Tennessee legislature was an exercise in denial. In the psychological sense of the word. They have to stifle all this talk about gun control. This is how they cornered themselves.

Polls tell us a significant majority of Americans favor more restrictions on firearm ownership, including background checks, red flag laws, and restrictions on open and concealed carry without a permit. Republicans won’t even discuss these things. Of course nationwide polls don’t show us state/regional differences. But just as Democrats are learning to not back away from the abortion issue, I believe they’re learning to not back away from the gun issue, either.

The election of Janet Protasiewicz to the Wisconsin state supreme court is also being met by much hysteria in the Wisconsin legislature. There is serious talk of impeaching her already, because she’s not one of them. The Wisconsin GOP simply cannot abide not controlling the court. Wisconsin law is not suppose to allow impeachments except for serious misconduct, but of course the GOP is acting like a wounded and cornered animal who will stop at nothing to survive. Well, except for what they really need to do to survive, which is cut loose from Trump and moderate their positions on abortion and guns, among other things.

And then there’s Justice Clarence Thomas. Every news outlet in the U.S. has a big headline today about how Justice Thomas didn’t think lavish gifts from a major GOP donor needed to be reported. It’s going to be a lot easier going forward for Democrats to paint the Roberts court as corrupt and in need of big reforms.

Unfortunately, they’re not going to stop acting like wounded and cornered animals in the near future. They have staked Trump, abortion, and guns as the hills they’re going to die on, and they may very well do that. So to speak.

Update: See The Abortion Ban Backlash Is Starting to Freak Out Republicans by Michelle Goldberg.