Thursday, July 7, 2022

The Meaning of Patriotism

From Andrew Sullivan, "This July Fourth, two Republican women are keeping the flame of this republic alive":

To see what is in front of our noses is a constant challenge, and perhaps never more so in a time of such awful post-truth polarization. But what happened in the January 6 hearings this past week will, in my view, be seen one day as a watershed moment either in the history of this country’s revival as a liberal democracy or in this republic’s rapid collapse.

Two women, Liz Cheney and Cassidy Hutchinson, went back and forth, asking and answering questions, slowly, calmly, and methodically laying out a story of an actual attempt by a president of the United States to rally and lead an armed mob to assault the Congress to overturn an election. Yes, I just wrote that sentence.

Hutchinson’s testimony added critical facts to the record: that Trump knew full well what the mob was intending to do in advance; and knew that they were armed: “You know, I don’t fucking care that they have weapons. They’re not there to hurt me.” He knew what he was attempting was criminal; tried physically to lead the mob in their rampage; and when he was foiled, egged on the attack, and refused to quiet or quell the mob for hours — even as it threatened to kill his own vice president. There is no way now to deny that Trump was behind all of it, uniquely responsible.

In the face of this, so many Republican men have kept quiet, caved, slunk away, equivocated, or changed the subject. So many, like Tucker Carlson, have responded with smears and foul lies. So many have refused to testify, or dodged subpoenas. These sickening cowards wouldn’t vote to impeach after the grossest attack on the Constitution in history; and wouldn’t cooperate with the committee.

But two Republican women faced our hideous reality this week — even if it meant the obliteration of their careers, and being subject to real threats of violence. And let us pause to note just how Republican these two women are. Cheney is the daughter of the former vice president, a man who once defined Republicanism; she represents Wyoming, the most Republican state out of 50; she’s pro-life, defended torture, never saw a war she didn’t want to start; opposed even her own sister’s same-sex marriage; and voted with Trump 93 percent of the time, more than the woman who ousted her from House leadership, Elise Stefanik.

Hutchinson, for her part, was at the heart of the Trump world. She ascended from mere intern — working in the offices of both Ted Cruz and the House minority whip — to become the primary assistant to Trump’s chief-of-staff, Mark Meadows. If she dyed her hair blonde, she could read the news on Fox.

Hutchinson had a lot to lose by testifying — as women seem to in general compared to men:

[T]here is evidence that women suffer more direct retaliation as whistleblowers. One study in 2008 found that women who reported wrongdoing within their organizations experienced more retaliation than men who did the same. And, while higher-ranking men who reported wrongdoing experienced less retaliation, higher-ranking women were not as insulated.

And notice the tone of the exchange between the two women. In a world of hyperbolic, pontificating males, Cheney asked clear, direct, empirical questions, and Hutchinson replied with the same attention to detail, the same surety of voice, the same care not to exaggerate, and to get things right. Yes, some of it was hearsay — but Hutchinson herself took pains to note when it was. And both, it seemed to me, understood their grave responsibility.

This is the Republican Party I used to respect. This is the conservatism I believe in. A conservatism whose first tasks are the defense of the Constitution, the rule of law, and a belief in objective truth.

Like Margaret Thatcher in her day, Liz Cheney has a steel stronger than most men, and similar courage. In her superb speech at the Reagan Library this week, Cheney also emphasized the feminine qualities that made this week historic:
I come to this choice [between Trump and the Constitution] as a mother, committed to ensuring that my children and their children can continue to live in an America where the peaceful transfer of power is guaranteed.

And she paid tribute to the women, often low on the DC totem pole, who rose to the challenge of citizenship, when so many powerful men failed:

I’ve been incredibly moved by young women who have come forward to testify, some who worked on the Trump campaign, some who worked in the Trump White House, some who worked in offices on Capitol Hill, all of whom knew immediately that what had happened must never happen again … Little girls across the country are seeing what it really means to love your country, what it really means to be a patriot. And so I want to speak to every young girl who may be watching tonight. The power is yours and so is the responsibility.

Listen to it all...