Republicans, do you REALLY want to condemn political violence? Do this.

Neal Turpin
Neal Turpin
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The actions at the Capitol on Sunday were evil. This is obvious to any person with any sort of morals, and repeating it won’t make a difference.

(And let me note right up front, actual lynching took place in this state’s history. I am not trying to equate an effigy of a white man to the actual bodies of hundreds of black men and women across this state, and thousands across the country. The threats towards Governor Beshear have been carried out towards others. We must make sure we are outraged by violence no matter the target. I can only imagine what sort of terrorism would have taken place were we to have a Black governor.)

On Sunday, after a while, elected Republican leaders began “condemning” what went on. This is a necessary first step, but without further action, it is ultimately meaningless. It’s as meaningless as when legislators in Washington are “troubled” or “concerned” about our President’s actions.

Thoughts and prayers.

A Twitter condemnation does nothing. It gives Republicans just enough political cover so they can maintain some semblance of propriety, but doesn’t go so far that it would risk alienating the people they need to get elected.

Republicans have been actively enabling this sort of thought in their party for decades, so it’s completely disingenuous when they clutch their pearls and act shocked whenever it’s displayed so publicly. Some Republicans even seem more upset at the optics than the actual events. Republicans leaders may try to distance themselves from the people who attended Sunday’s rally, but the policies those leaders have espoused for years is what attracted these terrorists in the first place.

I for one don’t want to hear any more condemnations. Without action, they are hollow, empty gestures.

You want to show how abhorrent these actions are to you? Stop courting the votes of people like this. Stop speaking at rallies where Confederate flags are proudly displayed. Stop your political grandstanding. Stop promoting hateful legislation that legitimizes these thoughts. Stop making pretentious, self-important rants calling Andy Beshear a dictator.

But even then, there is only so far a person can distance themselves from this hate while still having that “R” next to their name. If you really want to condemn these actions — and the countless other displays of violence, hate, racism, and sexism that we have seen come from the Right — you must change parties. If you can’t stomach being a Democrat, that’s fine. Be an Independent. There is less and less room for “good Republicans” in today’s GOP, and for the ones who are left, they must get out now before it’s too late.

Some may suggest pushing this ideology out of the Republican Party, but that time is long gone. The time for self-reflection and change was decades ago. Republicans did nothing. Humoring the hate with a wink and a nod kept them in power, but with every passing election, their integrity was compromised. The sickness is too widespread.

I would love to see the events of Sunday spark widespread self-reflection among conservatives – for them all to take a step back with their words, actions, and policies. But, I don’t see this happening. It’s an election year, and in a few weeks there may be new restrictions from a second wave of the pandemic. The rhetoric is likely to remain heated. At this point, the best thing any Republican official can do to condemn political violence is to leave the Republican party.

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Neal Turpin

Dr. Neal Turpin is a City Planner, and also part-time faculty in U of L's Department of Political Science. He lives in Louisville with his wife and children. (Read the rest on the Contributors page.)

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