While we were wrapping up our series examining the contemporary history of Nevada Democrats, Nevada Republicans continued to make plenty of their own headline news. To the surprise of hardly anyone who’s been keeping track of the growing extremism within the Trump-era GOP, the Las Vegas Review-Journal uncovered evidence that a clique of Proud Boys used a front group to influence last month’s state party vote to censure Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske (R?).
It’s long past time for more Americans to come to terms with the existential threat to our American democracy that’s been unfolding right in front of us the whole damned time.
Talk about “too little, too late”.
Late last week, the Nevada State Senate Republican Caucus posted a press release demanding an audit of the vote… Of the Nevada Republican Party to censure Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske. More specifically, State Senate Republicans feigned shock over the R-J reporter Rory Appleton’s investigation into who exactly pushed the Nevada GOP to censure Cegavske and why Nevada GOP party leaders seem so dead set on discrediting Cegavske’s oversight of last year’s presidential election.
Last November, it was horrifyingly obvious that party leaders had already decided Cegavske was a “RINO” because Cegavske stood with local election officials who were just trying to do their jobs and obey the law amidst then President Donald Trump already trying to discredit the election results here in Nevada and across the nation. Even after the January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol, Nevada GOP party leaders still refused to stop lying about the presidential election, the fact that President Joe Biden won fair and square, and the fact that Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske never once tried to cover up any alleged “voter fraud” (that has repeatedly been debunked).
Even after Cegavske was censured by the Nevada GOP last month, only a tiny handful of Republican legislators voiced support for Cegavske. Why has it taken nearly six weeks for more Republicans to speak up about this, and why won’t more Republicans simply state that Cegavske did nothing wrong in her oversight of the presidential election?
Sure, this is a tragedy. But as per usual, Amodei misses the point. (And are too many Congressional Democrats also missing the point?)
Speaking of January 6 and the ongoing aftermath in Congress, Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Carson City) was one of 175 House Republicans to vote against H.R. 3233 to establish a commission to investigate the insurrection. In a statement he released following that vote, Amodei claimed, “Just like many issues these days, this tragedy has become hyper-politicized. Between task forces, commissions, prosecutors, and committees, quite frankly, I’ve grown incredibly weary of Congress’ addiction to ‘special’ this and ‘special’ that.”
In a strange way, Amodei touched upon some valid criticism of H.R. 3233. But as usual, Amodei totally missed the point. It is a strange spectacle to witness so much rancor over how “bipartisan” this “special commission” should be, and these members of Congress who continue to argue over the “bipartisanship” of this proposed commission have only succeeded in obscuring what should be the mission of any investigation into the origins of the January 6 Attack: Find the truth, and hold the wrongdoers accountable.
Of course, Rep. Mark Amodei is not the only Congressional Republican who engages in rhetorical contortionism to try to change the subject matter. He and other House Republicans have basically given a “party unity” excuse to justify their removal of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) from her Republican leadership position over her refusal to lie about the 2020 Election, and several Senate Republicans have already backtracked on earlier promises to back legislation to establish the very bipartisan January 6 commission that H.R. 3233 establishes, a bipartisan commission that a bipartisan coalition of Representatives already negotiated before bringing this bill to the House floor.
When will (more Congressional) Democrats ever learn? As the Peanuts cartoons often showed: Charlie, meet Lucy and the football. Since January, we’ve noticed evidence suggesting that a few House Republicans aided the insurrectionists prior to January 6. Why would a critical mass of Congressional Republicans give credence to a bipartisan commission that may possibly investigate this and discover additional evidence of their own members’ complicity in this attack? Just last week, 175 of them already clued us in and indicated they don’t want any further investigations into what happened and who’s responsible.
These are the consequences of misusing one’s power to “undermine democracy and spread false information”.
Since August 2019, we’ve been examining the growth of violent far-right extremist movements throughout the internet. Back in January of this year, we took a closer look at the evidence that piled up on Parler between the election and the attack. And even then, we noticed the migration of extremist networks to alternative social media platforms like Telegram following Parler’s temporary shutdown.
Even after Biden’s inauguration, these platforms continued to serve as hotbeds for extremist “shitposting”, and Parler quickly returned to its old ways once it came back online. Considering how quite a few of these far-right “shitposters” continue to justify violence to “restore the good and righteous path”, why is anyone surprised that a group of Proud Boys took to Telegram to cook up their scheme to infiltrate the Nevada Republican Party central committee, force the vote to censure Cegavske, and use the upcoming Clark County Republican Party leadership election to fully conquer the county party?
Now we see the current Clark County GOP leadership team and State Senator Carrie Buck (R-Henderson) complain about the Proud Boys’ activity inside the Republican Party. Yet when she had a prime opportunity to undercut the Proud Boys’ rationale for their hostile(?) takeover of the Nevada GOP, State Senator Carrie Buck instead opted to use a February legislative hearing to amplify the already debunked lies about the 2020 election – already debunked lies that spread in many of the same far-right online echo chambers where the Proud Boys, the Boogaloo Boys, Atomwaffen and other neo-Nazi terrorist organizations, QAnon groups, and other far-right extremist networks go to propagandize and organize.
If Nevada Republicans don’t want to succumb to a “Proud Boys takeover”, it’s up to them to choose a different path. Meanwhile, the rest of us must face the truth of how fragile our democracy still is.
Republican Party leaders in Nevada and nationwide have had ample opportunities to disavow this violence, stop the spread of dangerous lies, and renounce the fascist ideology of Trumpism. So far only a few have opted to do so, and those few, such as Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske and Rep. Liz Cheney, have been punished by the party for their refusal to cosign Trump’s Big Lies. Again, keep in mind that the Republicans who’ve sought to move their party away from Trumpism are the ones being punished by their party.
As much as “establishment Republicans” like Rep. Mark Amodei and State Senator Carrie Buck claim they’re not like those others, they continue to make excuses for these growing far-right extremist threats instead of acting to stop them before they escalate. Even after insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6, even as Donald Trump continues to lie about his loss in the 2020 presidential election, and even as the same extremists who cheered on the attempted coup now plot to consolidate their power in the Nevada GOP, they continue to coddle Trump and they continue to encourage further growth of violent extremism within their own ranks with every day they continue to choose Trump instead of the truth.
As much as many of the rest of us just want to “move on” and “get back to normal”, we must admit that “back to normal” is no longer an option, and that “moving on” is impossible as long as this existential threat to American democracy remains. As long as the worst of the wrongdoers continue to evade consequences for their actions, they will continue to spread their Big Lies in order to deny the legitimacy of the elected leaders we have now, justify voter suppression to try to prevent the opposing party’s base voters from casting ballots, and even provide the rationale for further violence to overthrow the elected government they falsely label as “illegitimate”.
None of this should be accepted as “normal”, and there’s no excuse for a “return to normalcy” that’s truly just complacency in the face of rising authoritarianism. We need far more than just debates over how “bipartisan” one commission should be. We need full accountability and thorough justice. If a critical mass of Republicans continue to embrace Trumpism, then it’s up to the Democrats who now have power to actually use their power to save our democracy.