Gary Horton | U.S. Congress Needs Freedom Fighters

Gary Horton

As if COVID-19 wasn’t enough suffering, America just experienced the most excruciating event in our democracy since Nixon and Watergate and the Vietnam War. The president himself promoted and incited a full-blown riot and insurrection at Congress designed to halt vote certification. 

And even though the insurrection was rebuffed and the presidential vote certified, still, Trump’s Big Lie — a slow, deliberate Republican walk toward authoritarianism and anti-American democracy, weasels its way forward. 

Reportedly, some 60% of all Republicans believe multiple states connived in a most unbelievable scheme to hack voting machines, stuff ballots, double vote, blah blah – and that a demented “sleepy Joe” Biden engineered this genius mastermind-criminal theft of the 2020 presidential election. 

Non-stop conspiracy-mongering on far-right media has a sizable chunk of our most gullible, most racist, retro-thinking Americans convinced the election was bogus. Never mind the 8 million vote spread… not even close – we had violent mobs believing Joe Biden pulled the Crime of the Century. 

And those mobs remain a threat and Washington remains under heavy protection. 

If the implications of all this weren’t so terrifyingly serious, it would be a gut-splitting, laughable expose of American ignorance and vulnerability to fantasy and conspiracy. 

Yet here we are. Midterms are already teeing up and the battle for America’s soul is at hand. 

While pending criminal charges against the Trump organization may change everything, for now, the Trump-family-controlled voting suppression coalition is pressuring Republican leaders to deny history, ignore reality and reassert authoritarian control our nation’s democratic machinery. 

Today the party of <40%, Republicans are acting fast to pass laws amplifying their minority power. 

Amidst all this existential democratic threat, last week Congress voted down a special “Jan. 6 Commission” to investigate the causes leading to the Jan. 6 riot and insurrection. 

Despite earning a majority of votes, current filibuster rules killed the deal. Facing the greatest assault on democracy in their lifetimes, most Republicans took cover and hid, lest they be seen offending Strongman Trump. 

Our Rep. Mike Garcia also fell in with the authoritarians, first discrediting vote certifications and then thumbing down both impeachment and the Jan. 6 Commission.  

All these Republican “protectors of the Constitution” avoided analyzing and solving what’s got 60% of their party mesmerized into a personality cult threatening our democratic norms. 

When the battle got too hot, they consorted with enemies of democracy — they are palling around with internal terrorists. These “representatives” are no Profiles in Courage. Theirs is a fear of Trump primary challenge greater than love of democracy. 

Perhaps they’re confused between the two, but the damage remains done. 

Our own 25th District will play a big hand in the upcoming cage fight between democracy and authoritarianism. Christy Smith, after losing to Mike Garcia by 333 votes, will go up against the self-promoted fighter pilot once more – and this time with historic consequences. 

Garcia’s campaign messaging says he fought in the military. He’s now fighting in Congress. So much fighting, we’re told. But fight for who and for what? 

Our district is evenly divided purple, and Garcia won by 333 thin votes. Representing his constituency should have meant airing out alleged crimes – not burying them. Trump says he could shoot somebody on 5th Avenue and not lose voters. He also implies: Nice job you’ve got there in the 25th, Mike. Sure be a shame if anything happened to it.

Many had hoped that Mike Garcia would be an independent Republican, representing the completely diversified peoples of the 25th District. Perhaps that was Mike’s original good intention. But the corrupting gravity of Trumpism apparently pulled Garcia into Trumpian orbit and now it’s Trump’s way …or the highway out of politics. 

You and I no longer have a fair and balanced public representative in our 25th District. We have a Trump operative acting in our representative’s clothing. 

While we value our valiant fighters on the field of war, we also need uncompromised freedom fighters in the halls of Congress. We don’t want our representatives to be compliant doormen to a 2024 Trumpian authoritarian junta. 

What could an investigative committee have hurt, if there was nothing to hide? Garcia voted on the wrong side of history. 

Soon enough, it’s falling to you and me to vote and fight to defend democracy. And we’d better come through since our 40% of our elected representatives already surrendered. 

Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006. The opinions expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Signal or its editorial board.

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