For decades, the GOP has presented itself as the “law and order” party. “Tough on crime” has been its calling card.
At the same time, the GOP has worked to tie the hands of financial regulators and investigators who would hold the wealthy to account for their crimes. In the mind of the GOP, those crimes don’t matter. They’re victimless.
This selective “Toughness” is a feature of a party that doesn’t see a problem with the federal prison population being less white than the population at large. Nearly 40% of all incarcerated people are African American, but make up only 12% of the total US population.
The GOP is just fine with the “right people” being prosecuted. But as soon as one of their own is under investigation, they flip. Which is exactly what happened as soon as former President Trump confirmed a search warrant at his Florida home.
This on again, off again relationship with federal law enforcement has been a feature of GOP politicians for decades.
Way back in 1995, just days before the Oklahoma City Bombing, the NRA published a fundraising letter calling federal agents “jack-booted thugs”. The letter angered Lifetime NRA member, and former President, George H.W. Bush so much that he resigned his membership.
The NRA was reacting to actual raids at Ruby Ridge and Waco. Even though the letter was sent out years after these events, the NRA saw an opportunity to gin up some outrage in the wake of the Assault Weapons ban passed by Congress.
The assault weapons ban was partially in response to Ruby Ridge and Waco, as well as a growing militia movement in the US…something everyone understood as a problem after 4/19/1995.
Eventually, the NRA backed off that position (sorta), but the phrase lived on.
Just about everyone had forgotten about the phrase until the past two weeks.
In the wake of the search warrant at Mar-A-Lago last week, the GOP’s tough on crime veneer is more transparent than ever.
Since the George Floyd protests, GOP officials and talkers have been hammering progressives for the “defund the police” position.
It doesn’t matter that only 30% of Democrats supported the idea at its peak. Nor does it matter that support for “defund” has dropped over the past two years. It also doesn’t matter that “defund” didn’t mean defund the way the GOP wanted it to mean.
It’s an easy phrase for the GOP to paint Democrats as “out of touch”, that Democrats don’t know how to head off at the pass.
But it’s not.
The post-Nixon GOP has always been against any government action that might reach into the pockets of their donors or leaders.
Efforts to scale back regulations, hamper investigations of tax cheats, and de-emphasize white collar crime are all part of the plan.
Now in the world of the “Big Grift GOP”, defund is just another way to show fealty to dear leader, while making easy cash.
Saying the Quiet Part Out Loud
The GOP’s fascination with “law and order” has always been a con. You can’t believe in law and order while also wanting to reduce the federal government small enough you could drown it in the bathtub.
It’s been easy marketing to paint Democrats as “soft on crime”.
This all hat no cattle act is the means by which Republicans pass laws with tougher sentences for folks committing crimes of survival.
At the same time, they give tax breaks to the wealthiest who hoard the money making it harder for the poor to survive.
Since Dick Nixon, its been part of the grift.
So has the underlying racism, and the white supremacist militia movement that now serves as body guards for the GOP vanguard.
The only difference is, now they’re just saying the quiet part out loud.