Shelby is the classic non-Trump, an old-school conservative who has been a senator for 36 years, and his presumptive successor is his former chief of staff. But the “Christian conservative” path his mentee took to victory exposed the damage thoughtful Republicans like Shelby have done to the country, if not to God. More than Trump, they will be responsible for the death of our republic if it comes to that.
So how did Katie Britt, a 40-year-old Republican attorney for Rotary (or RINO on today’s curve, Republican in Name Only), in the reddest of red states, manage to put off the candidate who billed himself as ” MAGA Mo” Brooks announced? He was the congressman who raged at the “Save America” rally on Jan. 6, wearing Kevlar under a windbreaker to match the Proud Boys’ traditional black and gold – and shortly thereafter the outgoing Trump administration for a pardon from the President asked.
Trump had withdrawn his initial endorsement from Brooks, who then said he had rejected the ex-president’s orders well into the Biden administration to “overturn” the election results. Lo and behold, after Britt received an examination from Dr. Anthony Fauci, made a pilgrimage to “President Trump’s Wall” and called abortion “murder,” Trump gave it his go-ahead — after, of course, gaining ground in the polls.
There is much blame, some blue, for the Trumpist world that aspiring young politicians like Britt are inheriting. (She faces futile Democratic opposition in November.) But in our obsession with Donald Trump’s personal evil, we often tend to give a pass to the institutional actors who may have contained him before his pathologies became a bourgeois system .
Senate Republicans like Shelby (a former Democrat), Charles Grassley, Roy Blunt, and down the list to Mitch McConnell in particular, were the grown-ups who knew better, away from the cult of the lunatic. But when faced with two impeachment trials asking them to fulfill their oath to the Constitution, they did nothing, although ultimately it would have cost them little to take a stand — not that their oath included such an opt-out.
How must these statesmen feel now that the Ukrainian head of state, whom they refused to punish Trump for kneecaps, has become the Winston Churchill of our time?
We have endured years of normalizing the abnormal, and now the consequence of that is being anchored in the current election season: the normal has been made taboo. Britt therefore could not afford to acknowledge a ritual so commonplace in American life that it has taken place every four years since 1789: a presidential election was held and the results were deemed legitimate. An NBC reporter briefly perforated her stop-the-steal mantra and got her to admit it would have objected
confirming President Joe Biden’s victory if she were in the Senate – which not even Shelby did.
Britt also said
She will vote for Trump if he runs for office in 2024, confirming that there is not much difference between her and Brooks politically, other than the color of his Jan. 6 windbreaker. (The congressman emailed me through his communications director that he was unaware of the Proud Boys’ “presumed” colors and “bought this windbreaker over a decade ago when my wife and I were celebrating our anniversary in Bermuda. ” It happened to be in his office closet on January 6th, apparently.)
In any event, Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony at the January 6 hearing last week helped explain why Brooks donned body armor to appear before these armed “American patriots.”
In their stoic grandeur, the panel’s proceedings seem focused on a single goal: to hold Trump accountable for his serious crimes. In our continuing need to understand how the United States of America was able to make such a man President, the still Democratic majority hopes that if we present further evidence, if his own people testify against him, his supporters will come to their senses and the union can survive.
But as William Faulkner warned in Life magazine 66 years ago, the mindset we now call MAGA is impermeable to reason or consequence. The 1956 novelist A Letter to the North, in which he argued against the “forced integration” of the South (though he was also “against forced racial inequality”), warned that his region could never be “simply willed.” what would be changed would be the national majority backed by a legal edict.”
The North seemed to think the Civil War had taught the South wrong. But the Southerners, including Robert E. Lee, “already knew he was wrong,” wrote Faulkner, “and accepted that move even when he knew it was fatal.” Likewise, Donald Trump and his men and women knew, as the Jan. 6 hearings pointed out with grim meticulousness that what they were doing was not only wrong but, according to Hutchinson’s affidavit, might have involved “every crime imaginable.” This uprising continued.
The zeitgeist described by Faulkner may explain why we Alabama liberals seem to succumb to the gentle madness of low expectations. A Democratic strategist there who knows Britt confided in me, “Hopefully she can go back to who she is and not what they’re pushing her to be.” The allure of the lesser evil cast a group of Democratic women into a fleeting one moral dilemma when Britt challenged her to stand with her against her more extremist main opponents. But really, a MAGA fraudster is less bad for the country than a MAGA believer, or just more competent, like the Trumpists who helped overthrow the will of the American majority: its Supreme Court nominations.
Nonetheless. The irrepressible Charlie Brown in me was hoping that Shelby could see Jackson’s legacy in a court vote confirming Ketanji Brown. Once again, it wouldn’t have cost him anything – his yes wouldn’t have mattered – and might even mitigate the stench of the impeachment acquittals, each as past as the verdict of an all-white Jim Crow jury. Still, Shelby voted no to Republicans like Lindsey Graham, who took pains not to claim that Justice Jackson “likes what’s happening in child pornography.”
And so, the most impressive achievement Shelby leaves behind is the military-industrial complex he endowed with lavish federal aerospace and defense contracts in the 5th century. The local memorial to the senator’s impressive career is the Shelby Center for Science and Technology from the University of Alabama Huntsville. The building
is best known as the site of the 2010 mass shooting in which Amy Bishop, a biology professor who was denied employment, pulled a semi-automatic pistol from her purse during a faculty meeting and executed three colleagues (she pleaded guilty and is serving a life sentence).
Regarding the recently passed bipartisan gun safety bill, Shelby voted against even sending it to the Senate, leaving his A+NRA rating bloodless.
Shelby’s presumptive successor is, of course, a “God-given Second Amendment” advocate, but she also sells herself as a “mom on a mission.” For a future Senator Britt, that means “our children should be taught to love this country” — a nation so extraordinary that our children die at their desks to protect our liberties.