Herb Strentz: Chuck Grassley could have sought to quell Republicans’ anger and the turn to violence on January 6 by speaking out early and honestly rather than “winking” at the Big Lie. -promoted by Laura Belin
If Senator Chuck Grassley opts to run for re-election in 2022, it will be because he does not have the courage or the conscience to not run.
That turns the tables on what we expect from our elected public servants. But nowadays, lacking courage and conscience seems the key to appeasing Donald Trump and satisfying the Republican base. Today’s GOP demands its acolytes swallow the “Big Lie” that Trump won the 2020 election and ignore “The Big Truth” that Trump lost the popular vote by more than 7 million ballots.
Sadly, it is no longer necessary to distinguish between the Republican Party and Trump followers — they have become one and the same.
And even though the latest Iowa Poll for the Des Moines Register found that 64 percent of respondents would rather that Grassley not run for an eighth term in the U.S. Senate, Iowa Republicans have an ample supply of other potential candidates with the no-courage, no-conscience credentials desired by the new GOP.
Consider the fate of a few Republicans who spoke out as a matter of conscience. Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, if not already an outcast in today’s GOP and among those Trump considers losers, certainly became one for many Republicans after voting to hold Trump accountable for inciting the Capitol insurrection.
Because U.S. Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming put national concerns and needs and integrity ahead of destructive political games, she lost her House GOP caucus leadership role to to a Trump robot, Representative Elise Stefanik of New York.
Scott County GOP leader Dave Millage resigned in the wake of his unwelcome honesty in saying Trump should face an impeachment trial after egging on supporters who stormed the Capitol on January 6.
Higher up in the Iowa GOP order, no such honesty or integrity is to be found when it comes to Trump and the demise of the Republican Party as a conservative voice. What the Des Moines Register had noted in a December editorial holds true today:
The winking silence over the past month about Joe Biden’s obvious victory from Iowa’s most senior elected officials — Gov. Kim Reynolds, Sen. Chuck Grassley and Sen. Joni Ernst — has been juvenile and unbecoming. […]
Reynolds kicked it up a notch on Thursday [December 10], telling radio host Jeff Angelo that she wished Iowa could have signed onto the state of Texas’ breathtakingly cynical plea to have the U.S. Supreme Court void millions of votes in four states, for no coherent reason, and kick off a process that could have ended with Republican-dominated state legislatures or Congress keeping President Donald Trump in office.
The Register, however, was a bit late in coming to grips with how Grassley, Ernst, and Reynolds genuflected in acceptance of Trump’s autocratic, bizarre rule. In April and June 2020, Laura Belin reported for this website on how Trump laid waste to a supposed landmark of Grassley’s Senate tenure (protection of whistleblowers) with little or no concern exhibited by the Iowa senators and governor.
Remember when we were told that the 2020 presidential election might rank as the most important election our nation’s history? Perhaps that was a bit over the top. But now it is the 2022 election that is so characterized.
Going back, even the 2016 election was viewed as critical and became even more so with Trump’s victory. A commentary in The Guardian a month before the 2016 election carried the headline, “The 1935 novel that predicted the rise of Donald Trump.”
Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here features an antihero who whips up support among angry voters on the back of firebrand rhetoric, fearmongering populism and anti-Mexican sentiment. Sound familiar?
Jules Stewart, the author of the Guardian article, however, breathed a sort of sigh of relief: “In the end, though, it is only a work of fiction – and millions of Americans cling to the belief that it will remain so. Fingers crossed on 8 November .”
Fingers again were crossed in the 2020 presidential election, and Joe Biden’s election was briefly celebrated.
But here we are again, back to distress as Professor Mark Danner of the University of California at Berkeley points out in the July 1 issue of the New York Review of Books. His commentary notes we have moved a step beyond false claims about Trump’s victory in 2020 — endorsed by silence or acquiescence by Iowa’s GOP leadership — to what is called “Reality Rebellion.”
The article warns, “By doubling down on Trump’s Big Lie that the election was stolen, Republicans are making their base angrier, more radical, and more likely to turn to violence.”
Grassley, thanks to his tenure and the respect he had commanded in the Senate, might have sought to quell that anger and the turn to violence on January 6 by speaking out early and honestly rather than “winking” at the Big Lie.
But he did not, and thus has the credentials or lack thereof the GOP is looking for in its 2022 candidates.
Top image: President Donald Trump listens as Senator Chuck Grassley speaks during the federal judicial confirmation milestones event at the White House on November 6, 2019. Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead, available via Wikimedia Commons.