Republicans Are Acting Like Babies Because They Know That Babies Get What They Want

Jos A. Bank Riot

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via ZUMA

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.

When a group of Republican congressmen led by Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz crashed a House impeachment hearing Wednesday, it was hard not to think of a specific historical parallel: The image of several dozen middle-aged white men in suits shutting down a closed-door meeting brought to mind the infamous “Brooks Brothers Riot” of 2000, when a mob of Republican aides—including Trump confidante Roger Stone—stormed a Miami-Dade County canvassing board meeting to physically halt the presidential recount.

But you don’t even have to go back that far to put what happened Wednesday into context. The Gaetz crusade feels familiar because it’s the kind of brazen stunt that Republican state legislators pull off all the time—blowing up the traditions of good governance and betting that the benefits they reap will be worth the backlash. They’re usually correct.

Last month in North Carolina, Republicans managed to override a Democratic governor’s budget veto by lying to Democratic legislators about the day’s vote schedule. In June, Republican senators in Oregon fled to Idaho in order to kill a proposed cap-and-trade bill—days after threats from a sympathetic militia group shut down the state capitol. West Virginia Republicans impeached the entire state supreme court in 2018, just because they could. Arizona Republicans packed their own state supreme court this year, just because they could. When a Democrat was elected governor of North Carolina in 2016, Republicans pushed through legislation in the lame-duck session to strip him of his powers. Wisconsin Republicans did the same thing two years later.

State legislatures are laboratories of democracy where highly trained scientists (OK, a surprisingly high number of them are car salesmen) devise increasingly brazen ways to wield power. The House Republican caucus is filled with former Republican state legislators—like Gaetz—and one lesson Republican state legislators have learned time and again over the last decade is that rules and norms are only as sturdy as the willingness and capacity to enforce them. By noshing on pizza in a secure meeting room while a witness waited to give testimony, Gaetz et al. were operating with the blessing of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)—and sending a clear sign about how the impeachment battle is going to be fought. It’s a play we’ve seen before.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate