Republicans are afraid of a Jan. 6 commission and their own violent supporters

** My column, in print this Sunday, May 30 **

January 6, 2021 – Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone is pulled outside the U.S. Capitol, thrown to the ground, and beaten unconscious by Trump supporters.

What does the Republican party stand for?

This is the question I would have asked Sen. Rand Paul if I’d had the chance. But I did not get the chance.

Sen. Paul came to Lawrenceburg a few weeks ago to meet with local leaders, and let me tell you it is a great big giant deal for a U.S. Senator to stop by a little town like mine. Unfortunately, I discovered this would be a closed, invitation-only meeting. A Republican friend told me they were holding the meeting off Hwy. 127 and the Bluegrass Parkway (to keep away protestors) and on private property (to keep away the general public, aka “constituents”), and then sent me the seemingly top secret link to apply for entry.

I wanted to ask my one question—What does the Republican party stand for?—so I filled out my name, address, phone and email. I was honest about being a writer and a columnist. And I never heard back.

We hear a constant drumbeat of the what the Republican party is against. They are against “cancel culture.” They are against “the elites.” They are against increasing the minimum wage. After more than a decade, they still have not shown us their mysterious, better-than-Obamacare healthcare plan. They are against immigration. They are against people kneeling and marching in peaceful protest. They are against common sense gun laws, even as we continue to have mass shooting after mass shooting and men with long guns march in and around our state capitols screaming about freedom.

They are against admitting how long and often they told the Big Lie, choosing instead to poison the minds of their voters and, in turn, democracy itself.

They recoil from stating emphatically that the election was free and fair and was not stolen from Donald Trump, even as Trump continues lying, telling Newmax as recently as May 26, “The election was a fraud. It was a rigged election.”

What does the Republican party stand for if not the investigation of thousands who stormed the U.S. Capitol at the behest of President Trump to stop the certification of an American election?

What does the Republican party stand for if not to acknowledge their own supporters (based on their clothing and their flags) violently beat police officers with sticks and batons and flag poles, sprayed them with noxious chemicals, and built a gallows on the Capitol grounds while chanting “Hang Mike Pence!”

And there’s the rub. The Republican party is terrified of both the former president and the voters who elected them.

The Republican party stands for fear.

After all their leader, the former president, refused to call off the insurrectionists who hunted them for more than two hours on January 6, and then released a video telling the rioters to go home, that he loved them, they were special.

As my once-Trump-voting relative said the next day, “If they’d hung Mike Pence on live TV, Trump would have fundraised off it.”

On May 23, conservative columnist George Will said the quiet part out loud. The singular reason the GOP, including our own Sen. Mitch McConnell and Sen. Paul, will not support a bipartisan commission to investigate the insurrection on Jan. 6 is because “we have a political party defined by the terror it feels for its own voters. That’s the Republican Party right now,” and elected Republicans are “afraid that a vote for this would be seen as an insult to the 45th president.”

Is this what Republicans stand for, not investigating the brutal beating of law enforcement officers—officers who desperately fought to protect them and their colleagues from potentially the same beatings, or worse—by their own violent supporters, supporters who were chanting they wanted to hang the Vice President?

I would have liked to ask Sen. Paul that question.