“That’s just the way things were back then.” That’s a popular excuse you hear a lot around Alabama whenever people try desperately to come up with an excuse for keeping a statue to a traitorous Confederate general on the courthouse square or when they try to justify their inexplicable allegiance to a traitorous flag.
Those ancestors who enslaved other humans — often beating and torturing, raping and killing men, women and children for petty disobedience — simply “didn’t know better.” Because that’s just the way things were back then.
It’s nonsense, of course. Because there were plenty of people who knew better. Plenty of white people spoke up and fought against racism and bigotry, from the days of slavery all the way through Jim Crow and into today.
Not enough white people, mind you. But enough to know that those embracers of slavery and practitioners of Jim Crow were actually just more interested in themselves, and didn’t really give a damn about anyone else.
And that’s exactly the way many of today’s Republicans should be remembered as well.
When the dust settles on the Trump annihilation of decency and country, it should not be forgotten who enabled his many transgressions and his deplorable behavior. Their complicity in his stunts and his undermining of democratic norms should not be allowed to escape scrutiny simply because they were part of the group.
That specifically includes the hundreds of Republicans who gleefully signed up to help the former reality TV star and felon-in-waiting take an ax to American democracy over the last month by participating in his allegation of election fraud.
From Alabama, that list includes Steve Marshall, Robert Aderholt, Mo Brooks, Gary Palmer, Bradley Byrne, Mike Rogers and John Merrill.
Every single one of them knew the truth. Every single one of them stood before you and lied.
They lied because lying is the easiest thing to do. It’s far easier than addressing policy issues or tackling societal problems. It generates way more headlines than simply doing a decent job and serving your constituents.
It is so much easier to stand before you and say that there is election fraud that cost Trump the election and vow to “fight it.” Mind you, they never give you specifics about the election fraud — because in court case after court case, no Trump lawyer has been able to provide the first shred of proof of this grand fraud — and they also never explain to you how they plan to “fight” this election fraud — and that is because there is nothing to fight.
I mean, honest to God, do you really think the U.S. Supreme Court, with all of those Trump-appointed justices, and the federal courts, with all of those Trump-appointed judges, and the state supreme courts, with all of those Republican justices, and all of the Republican secretaries of state and all of the Republican governors, along with all of the law enforcement agencies in America, are all — ALL OF THEM — secretly working against Donald Trump and aiding the Democrats’ master plan to steal the White House but not the U.S. Senate? This is what you believe?
Of course, it’s nonsense. And everyone with a working brain knows it. There’s no logical pathway that allows anyone to explain how enough “illegal votes” were cast in any state to sway the results. But that hasn’t stopped the pandering party of con men.
The biggest fraud of them all in this state, Attorney General Steve Marshall, was still at it on Monday at the state’s Electoral College ceremony, decrying the national results and making broad, unsubstantiated claims of fraud that he didn’t even bother to explain.
This sort of behavior, reprehensible as it is, is not surprising coming from Marshall. In a very short period of time — after gaining the office on the merits of promising to do a favor for a disgraced governor under investigation — Marshall has turned the AG’s office into his de facto campaign office, ignoring the basic service of the people and instead focusing his every waking moment on PR for future candidate Steve Marshall.
At the end of the day, that’s all any of this is for any of the people involved: an attack on U.S. election integrity without a shred of evidence of wrongdoing by anyone, all for the purpose of serving the self-interests of a few.
In the meantime, there are a few people in the Republican Party who have been willing to take a stand for reality and democracy. Mitt Romney and a few other senators have publicly called the election contests dangerous publicity stunts. In Alabama, you’ll notice that longtime, powerful senator, Richard Shelby, has been purposefully quiet. And outgoing Rep. Martha Roby didn’t sign onto the ridiculous Texas lawsuit like her GOP brethren.
So, just like in the days of slavery and Jim Crow, these people’s actions tell us that they all know better. They all know what’s happening is wrong, and obviously stupid. They all know that their actions are serving to ignite anger and violence, and leading some to doubt the integrity of American elections.
But this is what’s easiest for them. This is what’s most politically expedient. And everything else, including the country itself, be damned.