The Republican Party of lawlessness and disorder
Most Americans will never serve on a jury — in fact most won’t even be summoned. The National Center for State Courts estimates that in any year, only about .09% of the population is called for jury duty, and yet somehow most New Yorkers will tell you they’ve gone at least once.
I was called three times in my 20s and 30s. One of the cases involved a suspect who took off during a traffic stop, with the cop’s arm stuck in the window, dragging him for blocks. During voir dire, the defense attorneys wanted to know if any potential jurors would be overly sympathetic to cops.
At the time I was a pundit on Fox News and belonged to several Republican clubs and organizations. Upon learning this, the lawyers asked me, “Would you say you’re a typical law-and-order Republican”? To which I replied, “Absolutely.” I was summarily dismissed.
Flash-forward 15 or so years, and a former Republican vice presidential nominee is publicly lamenting the fact that convicted seditionists who stormed the U.S. Capitol, injuring police officers in the process, calling to hang the then vice president, and attempting to overturn a democratic election, are actually having to face the consequences of their crimes.
Sarah Palin appeared on Newsmax this week to discuss the sentencing of high-profile insurrectionists, including Proud Boys’ Enrique Tarrio (22 years), Zachary Rehl (15 years), and Joe Biggs (17 years), and Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes (18 years).
“Governor, blown away by these sentences,” says host Eric Bolling. “Fifteen, 17, and 18 years for nonviolent crimes. What do you say to all these lefties?”
“It’s so disheartening, the examples that you’ve given, Eric,” says Palin. “…[T]he two-tier different justice systems that apply according to politics, you know it makes the good guy think, what’s the use in being a good guy? We’re gonna be punished, you know, we’re picked on, is what we are under this system.”
Now when I tell you it feels like drinking straight lighter fluid to try to wrap my brain around the degeneration of the Republican Party from one of law and order to whatever indefensible garbage this is, the Palin-Bolling exchange is truly spectacular.
Palin, who once called Black Lives Matter “dogs” for protesting police brutality, and Bolling, who once accused “the anti-cop left in America” of a “murderous streak that’s going on against cops,” got together on Newsmax, which once had a recurring segment “Cops Under Fire,” to complain that a bunch of guys who attacked cops — and democracy — got tough sentences for their actions on Jan. 6. And, the overly-harsh sentences, the result of a “two-tiered justice system,” were evidently handed down by “lefties” like Federal Judge Timothy Kelly — who was appointed by Donald Trump.
Got all that? Well, don’t try too hard to unpack all of this lunacy — it isn’t worth the brain cells.
But this remarkable reversal of long held conservative principles is yet another nadir in American politics, where one party’s most prominent voices have devolved into cartoonish levels of soul-selling.
Rather than do the obvious and natural thing, which would be to defend America and the police against seditionists, the new right wing has to perform these absurd contortions to placate their tantrum-throwing, mouth-breathing overlord Donald Trump, who still insists these convicted criminals are “great patriots.”
This total abandonment of law and order by the right may be shocking, but it was also inevitable as Trump-their-savior started facing questions of corruption, illegality, and criminality of his own, practically the day he entered the White House.
Whether it was allegations of campaign finance crimes or obstruction, or now four separation indictments involving everything from illegal document handling to election tampering, Trump ran afoul “law and order” early and often, forcing his supporters to readjust or even abandon their principles to remain aligned with him.
As he recast the justice system and law enforcement as criminal enterprises out to get him and his supporters, Republicans have blindly followed. They’ve grown increasingly likely to say the anger among the insurrectionists on Jan. 6 was justified, and less likely to say it’s important for the rioters to be prosecuted.
So, while it may sound clinically insane for someone like Palin to equate racist, cop-attacking, democracy-breaking seditionists to “the good guy,” and whine that the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers who organized an armed overthrow of the U.S. government are being “picked on,” it’s perfectly in keeping with the new American right wing.
Trump has effectively turned law and order into another relic of conservatism, a trivial vestige rendered purposeless by the evolution of a Republican Party that’s no longer animated by ideas, but by whatever he just said. Because ultimately, if it doesn’t help Trump, who needs it anyway?
S.E. Cupp is the host of "S.E. Cupp Unfiltered" on CNN.
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