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Party of power, not law and order

This editorial appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

It was more than half a century ago that Richard Nixon successfully branded the GOP as the "law and order" party, creating a political banner that has since been wielded, very effectively, by generations of Republicans. It was infused with some hypocrisy from the start — Nixon would ultimately be driven from the White House for his crimes in office — but in principle, at least, it aligned with a central tenet of conservatism: that respect for the law provides the restraint of passions that is necessary for society to thrive.

So how on Earth did THAT Republican Party become the one we see now?

In a move that should (but won't) make them too ashamed to ever utter the words "law and order" again, 21 House Republicans last week voted against bestowing the Congressional Gold Medal on the police officers who confronted the insurrectionists during the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol. These are the officers, of various police units, who put their lives on the line (and in one case, died) protecting those lawmakers after then-President Donald Trump incited the mob to storm the Capitol.

Ponder that: Asked to choose between the anti-democracy thugs who assailed America's seat of government, or the small contingent of police officers who valiantly tried to stop them, these 21 elected representatives chose...the thugs.

Also last week, Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., alleged in a House hearing that a rioter who was shot to death by an officer as she breached a Capitol window had been "executed." It was 100% fiction — the officer was cleared of any wrongdoing — but Gosar, a reliable Trump water-carrier, was fine with slandering a police officer who did his job and lionizing an anti-democracy insurrectionist. Has there ever been a more succinct example of Trumpism's utter disdain for law and order?

In Missouri, Republican Gov. Mike Parson — a former sheriff, no less — signed a bill to impose heavy fines against local police if they enforce federal gun laws. In addition to the craven cynicism of backing a measure he knows won't last 10 seconds in court, Parson has reinforced the same poisonous message the Republican base has been getting from its leaders for the past four years: "Law and order" is just another empty slogan designed to own the libs.

All that today's Republican Party actually believes in is power.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Izaskun E. Larrañeta, staff writer Erica Moser and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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