by Larry Schweikart
For as long a I can remember, the Democrats were referred to as the “evil” party and the Republicans as the “stupid” party, the implication being that Democrats knew what they were doing, and Republicans didn’t. I think we need to revise our thinking on the latter. Mitt Romney (Minion) and Mitch McConnell (Yertle) didn’t get where they are by being stupid. Indeed, Romney was quite devious, picking a state that was not only overwhelmingly conservative but one that was uniquely Mormon. (It’s hard to imagine Romney getting elected in, say, Florida.)
No, I think we need a new way of looking at the “stupid” party, and it’s the Vain Party. For the most part, today’s GOP thinks of themselves as the Guardians of the Galaxy of Etiquette and Manners. They perceive themselves as so “moral” and “principled” and “ethical” that not only would they not cheat, but they won’t call out Democrat cheaters because, well, that “wouldn’t be nice.” And we have to play nice.
It’s important to see the vanity at work in D.C., and certainly not just with Republicans. But the difference is that the Democrats’ vanity is in their perception of themselves as the only ones moral enough in terms of current political correctness and social justice to hold power. They see themselves as uniquely “holy” when it comes to positions and policies. To them, personal behavior is utterly irrelevant, so long as one holds the right policies. This was perhaps best demonstrated in the Clinton years when a female reporter publicly stated she would perform a Lewinsky on Bill Clinton because of his position on abortion. So, both the Republicans (in terms of seeing themselves as the lord-protectors of ethics and polite behavior) and the Democrats (in terms of policies and issues) are drenched in vanity. Angelo Codevilla in 2010 perfectly explained this in his description of the “country class” and the ruling class.
To recap—as this is critical to understanding what happened on January 6 and the Great Capitol Chase or, as I call it, the Flight of the Squidpickles—both parties are dripping with vanity. They are just vain about different things.
Then came January 6, when hundreds of thousands of Trump supporters showed up in Washington, D.C. Some—it is still not proven if the main perpetrators were pro-Trump or fascist so-called “Antifa” plants—broke in the Capitol building. What came next was critical. It changed the entire narrative of the focus of the Joint Session, which was to announce Joe Biden’s electoral college victory.
Instead, the break-in by an assortment of oddballs, including a Leif Erickson, horn-headed Viking, a fellow with a beard the size of Los Alamos, and a goofy looking assortment of people who, in the tradition of the mobs celebrating Andrew Jackson’s victory as they broke into the White House and drained the liquor cabinets hauled off everything from Nancy Pelosi’s gavel to the Speaker’s Podium. (One can imagine the E-bay ad: Speaker’s Podium, U.S. House of Representatives, sanitized, reeks of alcohol. Make offer). But if you’re paying attention to those scenes of high comedy, you’re missing the profoundly revealing moment.
As the members of Congress heard about the crowds, they panicked. Some hid under chairs or tables. Pelosi and her squad dashed for the elevators to go to the secure bunker, no doubt fully stocked with masks and vodka. Senator Lindsey Graham would later say he feared for his life. (“They could have killed us all.”) Riiiight. Greybeard and the Minnesota Viking “could have killed them all.” One can almost picture Graham scurrying to don women’s clothes and pushing men out of the way to get on the last lifeboat on the Titanic. There certainly will be no profiles in courage coming from the behavior of our elected officials that day.
Quite the contrary, that a handful of ordinary citizens could trigger the Flight of the Squidpickles is extremely telling. Even more revealing was what happened next: within 24 hours many of the leading RINOs distanced themselves from Trump, a couple of cabinet members resigned, and Democrat leaders gushed with language of invoking the 25th Amendment (which none of them, of course, could do) or conducing another impeachment (which, of course, they can’t do given time constraints). Why the over-the-top rhetoric? Why the terrified, nay, hysterical reaction to Wednesday’s “break in?”
It has everything to do with the puncturing of their vanity balloons. These people think themselves gods—yet they were swept out by characters from Barnum & Baily. In their own minds, the elites own the Capitol. To them, it’s disgusting that ordinary citizens even get to tour the grounds, much less take it over. And worst of all? Their cringing, craven whimpering cowardice was evident to the world. Yes, people are laughing at us—not because of President Trump but because congressmen and senators were chased out of their own building by people who couldn’t threaten an egg-salad sandwich. How dare they!!? Certainly, these same senators and representatives know that some of their predecessors, such as John C. Calhoun or Davy Crockett, would have produced a weapon and shot the first person who made an aggressive move.
Perceptions are everything, and on Wednesday, January 6, the world was left with the perception that America’s elites in both the evil party and the vain party were little more than a gaggle of geese, driven out by a ferocious Teacup Yorkie. More importantly, they know this is how they looked.
I always like to reference history, naturally. What happened on January 6 with the Flight of the Squidpickles was in many ways similar to the impact of the Doolittle Raid on Japan in early 1942. Everything seemed to be going Japan’s way in the war so far. The Empire was invulnerable. The Japanese had supposedly defeated the American surface navy and could not be touched across the vast Pacific. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, a flight of B-25 Mitchell bombers under Jimmy Doolittle appeared over the skies of Tokyo and other major cities. The bombs that fell, measured in purely military terms, did very little damage. But in psychological terms, the Japanese were staggered. How could this happen? Weren’t Japan’s defenses impregnable? When asked where the raiders came from, President Franklin Roosevelt said, “From our base in Shangri-La.” Yet the raid terrified the Japanese Navy, which bore responsibility for the Empire’s defense from the east. It goaded them into the disastrous Midway attack, after which Japan could not hope to win.
While it may appear that the Democrats have cheated their way to a massive victory at the presidential and senate levels, and while they still hold the house, privately they are panicked. If good-natured, non-violent American protestors can do this without weapons, what, exactly, might they achieve if they return? And that image has the Squidpickles still on the run
Larry Schweikart is the co-author with Michael Allen of the New York Times #1 bestseller, A Patriot’s History of the United States, author of Reagan: the American President, and founder of the Wild World of History, a history curriculum website with full courses in U.S. and World history complete with teacher guides, student workbooks, tests, images, and video lessons accompanying every unit (www.wildworldofhistory.com).