If these cops are filling their dispers because a nice woman is looking out for her sister and child then they have ABSOLUTELY no business being cops. No courage, no integrity, no honor. Ged rid of thrm.
There is no “situation” so insignificant that a cop won’t find an excuse to arrest, beat or murder you over.
When an officer starts stuttering his words you know you’re in trouble because he’s trying to come up with a situation that does not exist so he struggles with the words to create itThat officer is so out of control with his emotions he is now a danger to the public because he has a gunThat looks like more than two car distance away. It’s like 5 car length away. Man there are so many cowardly cops out there, it’s a shame.WOMAN: I served in the Military COP: I don’t give a Fuck !! That sums it up right there !!!Who knows what they would have done without a witness! It’s amazing the tyrants’ recordings were available for release.The entire Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Department is terrible. This is just the tip of the iceberg.He knows exactly who she is. It’s on his computer. They never ask questions they don’t already know the answer to.“I’m gonna make sure I go home every night.” I’d argue that that’s not in any way part of your duties to serve and protect your community!!! Not yourselves. This is why people HATE youEveryone needs to call the sheriffs department and let us stand up for our veteransAs a citizen I would like to point out the most important thing to me when I get pulled over by the police is my safety. I have just as much right to protect my safety as they do I have just as much fear in me as they do and for them to take away our worries and concerns and only think of their others is just another drop in the bucketSo, this chicken cop can call for back-up, but her sister can’t wait to make sure she is safe, and if a cop has to worry about his safety all the time he needs to go work at Kentucky Fried Chicken, the only thing threatening is the chicken, that officer was rude the minute he walked up too the car I have seen those videos the whole objective is to kill and go home there is no bridging the gap, cops don’t want it.It would have been so easy for the second cop to just stay with the sister until the stop was over.So nice that the sergeant came to copsplain at the end. Those women feel so much safer now when they know it’s okay for cops to do whatever they like to you.“His words” did not initially state or ever state a probable cause or reasonable articulation of suspicion that a traffic violation has been committed or any other justification for running the woman’s license plate.. Randomly running plates without a just cause is grasping for low hanging fruit in search for any reason to stop a citizen. Targeting citizens without just cause is harassment!So if someone gets pulled over in a residential neighborhood everyone needs to vacate the area?The way the officer is swearing with a child in the back is disgusting, yet entirely expected.Police are trained to be professional arguers. They want to escalate the situation until you do or say something that they can use against you.I don’t understand why the cop got upset about the other car being there. I see multiple cars pulled over together all the time in traffic stops.Sick of cops acting like they’re perfect angels and think everyone is out to get them. Absolutely no self awarenessThe policing institution is decayed with corruption, ego/anger issues, stupidity, and a blatant disregard for the U.S. Constitution.At this point, I think it’s safe to say law enforcement have become domestic terrorists. And the kick in the teeth is that they’re paid for by their victims.They can get away with assault, they did right here. Even a complaint won’t even be listened to, or lead to any punishment. I agree with your stand your ground statement. edit: Battery, they got away with battery and covering up the battery. That officer should have spent time in jail for crushing that woman with the vehicle’s door.I love how these cops think that people aren’t in danger when these thugs pull them over…..they honestly think that there lives are more important then ours!We must outlaw any and every military member from entering law enforcement. They consider us civilians, which means their mentality tells them they are in a warzone! I left you an email James, are you going to leave the rest of of that need help?I love that the officer tried to overpower her and close her door and miserably got out muscled and failed.Did he really say she was 2 car lengths ahead of them? That’s obviously a blatant lie… she has every right to stop on the side of the road and wait.. This is bullying, plain and simple, and unfortunately is normal, and not the exception, these days…This is my sister and I. All I want to say is the main point that’s concerning to me and that has given me PTSD hasn’t even been highlighted. These officers were conspiring to take my child from me! That’s the issue! One of the officers said he would “hem us up” if the other cop wanted him to then the other cop said “shhhh” and pointed to his body cam. Why is this being overlooked?! It has caused great distress in my child and myself.
Don’t worry guys, I’m sure he isn’t in that position anymore, he probably got promotedJames perhaps you can speak with a DA or AG on this issue and show the police training is wrong and needs to change for instances like thisHe is delaying the traffic stop beyond what is reasonable. He could go back to his cruiser and feel as safe as possible. But he is not doing that.I love when they say -“I’m not going to play this game” when they know they are full of shit.Somebody needs to teach the cops the law they are violating more laws than they are enforcing good God Almighty how stupid can they be did they not swear an oath to the Constitution of the United States of America I want every law enforcement officer in this country to reaffirm they’re allegiance to the Constitution of the United States of America if they have the balls to do it because they love to violate people’s rights instead of protecting them this is getting ridiculous God help us all when a cop will do this to a woman on the side of a highway Jesus ChristI find it very interesting how I really like your interpretation of those events compared to the VERY LAME assessment from “Audit the Audit”. They must be boot lickers because they gave that cop a “B-“. You have hit the nail on the head. It just amazes me that even with today’s technologies that cops still come up with the idea that their safety is paramount and above the safety of anyone and everyone else. That black vehicle was at least 50 feet away from the traffic stop but they cannot stand for any witnesses to their predatory practices. The only words I have to describe those tyrantical cops are “BADGE DRUNK“. Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely. I really hate it when a cop trys copspaining away the reason why they broke the law.If these LEOs are sooooo damn scared for their safety, why don’t they get a safer job? Quit, if you’re scared.Ofcourse. Any car driving by can do a drive by, yes cops.. close the whole freeway 🙄Damn he could’ve already written the ticket already damn the ego on this cowardIt’s very telling that the cops stumble over and ignore the most important question from the driver; “What law is that?” Of course they can’t actually name a law.And then to put the icing on the cake he assaults her with the door and starts fighting with her to close the door and then finally says f*** it I don’t care anymore. And this man is on the streets interacting with the public and the department doesn’t see an issue with this this is a lawsuit waiting to happen I have a gut feeling this officer will end up discharging his gun because of emotional feelings he cannot check his emotions he cannot keep his emotions in balance he creates such horrible situations that puts the public in dangerI’ve been in this same situation. It’s about ego, hubris and control.Officer safety? Being a cop is one of the safest jobs out there! You would think that he is a carpenter or something the way he worries about his own safety.I am usually the first to defend a cop’s actions but this just makes my blood boil. These cops are plain wrong!I’m so sick of tyrants violating our rights in the name of “SAFETY”Ugh. I’ve scaled back my 1A viewing to a handful of auditors or aggregate sources because of the sheer stupidity of these cops. I can only take so much stupidity every week. At first it was funny, then educationally fun… now it’s just downright scary. They really have an us v.s. them mentality.Wow, that “I’m gonna make sure i go home every day” was just mind boggling. Completely out of context but showing from where he’s speaking. James, can you go behind the curtain and do a video about the training. I think that would be an eye opener for many people that still belive that cops are protecting and serving anybody. Keep up the good work. God bless!i don’t blame the cops being so paranoid after seeing these types of interactions with law abiding citizens who needs criminalsI cannot believe the immaturity of this so called law enforcement officer. This is all about ego and has absolutely nothing to do with officer safety!By their behavior she had every right to stay there because obviously her sister needed a witness to the behavior of these officers for they are clearly not following the color of the law🤦🤷 this was/is in my back yard. I’ve got 40 years here born and raised. Been harassed caged and beat by these guys. At least they have body cams now. This first guy talking is a fast talking tyrantThe cop says 1/3 of the time he runs a license plate it comes back with a suspended license or warrant. So one out of three people driving down the road have a warrant or suspended license? Unbelievable that the cop can just make up fake facts. I can guarantee you that it’s not one third of people. Wow.This isn’t even surprising anymore it’s just upsetting.The Academy teaches these murderers exactly what they want to hear. That is they can murderer anyone they want without reason or impunity. Police academies is where reform has to start.Once you figure out that police are only there to protect state property and state assets it all makes sense. “To serve and protect” is true, but it’s not to serve and protect you, it’s to serve and protect state property and state officials. PeriodI love James. He tells it like it is. This cop is so flustered he’s dangerous in my opinion. She’s not close to the traffic stop. She’s waiting for her sister. This is proof her sister is right by waiting for her.2 very smart ladies who had each others backs true girl power well done girlsIt’s amazing how 99% of these videos has the cop just opening unlocked doors. I changed the factory settings of my truck that my doors remain locked when I put it in park.Honestly, the most telling sign in this whole video that they are NOT worried for their safety — when the lady in the black car finally agrees to give her ID, you can see the cop in the window reflection casually chewing gum with his hands on his hips while she digs through a large ‘purse’ (for almost 30 seconds) that could easily be holding a very large handgun or any other kind of weapon…he’s not threatened in any way, otherwise he would be on high alert. She’s lucky that he was just there to throw his weight around and bully her, otherwise she could have been shot by a hypervigilant cop.One officer could deal with the white car solo… He only called back-up for the 2nd black vehicle, so why does she have to leave once back-up is there to watch her? Follow the logic – she needs to leave so I’m safe on my own – now I’m not alone she still needs to leave (why?) But now she can stay there because he’s getting his desirse fulfilled by obtaining her ID… Does she need to leave or not?
Keep in mind they are trained to act on fear. Nothing at all like military. We trained to run towards the fight not shit our britches on a traffic stop with two harmless ladies.It’s seriously like they go out of their way to imagine new ways to earn the hate daily.That training session sounded like they are creating heartless killers.The saying “back the blue until it happens to you” is catchy and clever, however, this is one I don’t have to learn in the School of Hard Knocks, ty!“In this day and age” ALWAYS LOCK YOUR CAR DOORS AND KEEP THEM LOCKED!!Dude is literally making shit up as he goes: “Not within two car’s lengths.” Maybe he has depth-perception issues too.Since when did it become illegal to pull on the shoulder of the road?Sister: “What law am I breaking?” Cop: “It’s not safe.”“We investigated ourselves, and found we did NOTHING wrong!” What do you suppose would happen to you if you slammed a cops door on him like that?Cops should be fearful for their life when they act like this.I think of that young child in their mothers back seat, who now is probably afraid of police, and now knows their true behavior.I was once in that child’s shoes. Only we were in our kitchen and my dad went out on the porch to speak to a sharpsville police officer. The discussion got heated and the cop assaulted my dad with his huge mag flashlights from the 90s. When they got a warrant and broke into our home they pointed a shotguns at my mom and us kids! Yeah really wonderful experience. Back the blue until it happens to you.Can you only imagine the shit they got away with before the advent of body cameras and cell phone cameras. It must’ve been a great time for the cops being able to do anything they want to do. Watching this video makes my blood boil.Thatinstigate. They are the lowest form of citizen.Yes, officer safety is the most important consideration. And remember, there are only twenty-two other professions in the US that are more dangerous ..Nothing’s going to change until we do away with qualified immunityAfter watching these videos, I am surprised we are not reading about more cops getting smoked EVERY day. These guys are out of control.Almost as if they get paid exclusively to escalateIf witnesses make you nervous you’re up to no good.. this video defines why cops hate cameras!
Cop 101:Cop 101: always escalate. Always use violence. Always earn the hate@12:20 James claims that she has the right to be there but be wary of that advice, you might risk some trouble. Audit the audit covered this video also where he explains why the cops may have the authority to ask her to leave the scene.Isn’t it just so awesome how they make up their own rules laws and just escalate situations out of control. I know for a fact they’re taught how to escalate situations they’re not taught how to deescalate because none of them know how to do that.I love the ones where they got the body cam footage because that means they’ve already taken the first step towards suing the department.When his superiors hear his language saying” I don’t give a fuck” he should be fired on the spot.“I run tags all day long” ….. this is what really happens!Same thing happened when my wife was following me and got pulled over. I pulled over. The cop approached my wife’s car. Then he walked up to me. I said, “She’s following me to my parents house. She’s never been there before.” The cop said, “OK, she was speeding. I’ll be done in a minute.” That was it. No big deal. That was before cell phones and digital maps.Here’s the bottom line everybody!1. We know how they’re trained2. We know they’re not responsible for our safety anymore.3. We know they are allowed to lie to our faces legally.4. We know they use terry stops, and Call it officer safety.5. We know they’re protected by police unions.6. We know they are protected by qualified immunity.7. We know that they police themselves any time a complaint comes in.8. We know that most of the people they pick on have no money to protect themselves.9. They know when they do get caught, the people, cities and counties, and insurance companies, pay for their mistakes.10. That’s why we are considered guilty until proven innocent.11. We know we are on trial every time we’re pulled over. So as you can see everything is automatically stacked against us. Yes we have rights, yes we have the constitution, but when you’re guilty until proven innocent our system is broken. Our forefathers would be rolling in their graves, when they see the leaders of this country stomping on our God-given rights. As a country at this time we are all in grave danger. Our system has turned against us. The sad thing is we have allowed it, and we pay for it financially, emotionally, and physically.
Imagine how this would of have gone without bodycam, we know how! They would of beaten that woman probably murdered her and claim she was reaching for his gun or she assaulted him or some bullshit excuse. Man something needs to be done.For “Officer safety” gives them illusion of unlimited power. The training video clearly showed they’re trained to be aggressive tyrants.What if the toddler had a gun. That officer is so brave. Putting his life on the line to keep the community safe from disabled moms and kids. He should get an accomodation for bravery.You don’t have to identify simply because they’re a law enforcement officer.. You have the right to be to be secure in your papers and documents..I’m more than a little concerned that the cops in this town (and probably others) are just randomly running plates as they drive around, without actually having a valid reason to do so….then initiating traffic stops without a violation having been committed…looks like a revenue generating scheme to me…At about 7:00 punk cop admits there’s no reason for him to go to the other car! And if you look close at the image of other cars four or five car lengths away! Why would you be afraid…… your bullets would travel much more distance then that!It appears that officer is putting everyone in danger with not only his behavior, but because he is not taken care of the reason he pulled her over and getting them underway.He sounded drunk and extremely childlike. His partner was just an idiot. The Sergeant has allowed this Officer to escalate a peaceful situation and made a fool out of the whole Police Department. This all reflects on the Chief and the Mayor.That guy’s voice started quaking as soon as his he felt his supposed authority being questioned. He’s obviously intimidated by women. And, while I’m not saying this as fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if he suffered from some kind of extreme abuse at some point, if it’s not ongoing at home. He needs to undergo a full psychological evaluation by a 3rd party professional to determine whether or not he’s fit for duty. Pretty scary that someone that emotionally compromised is carrying a firearm in the line of duty.So from the get go he used a questionable tactic to get her pulled over with the running random tags without any laws being broken.It’s not safe for you to be here! 🤯 What happened to protect & serve?!!! You’re always safe w us heroes! 😵💫I do think the officers could have been more professional and could have handled it differently, but what it boils down too is this lady was obstructing the traffic stop by her very presence. She’s causing the officers attention to be diverted to her instead of the vehicle that he stopped.she was well above the 10 ft recommendation. she should have gotten out on the public roadside and recorded him, from a safe distance.The true fact is they hate accountability and they hate it more when citizens know more than they do. In today’s society it’s more dangerous to be a citizen stop by the police, than it is to be a Police Officer, especially when the Police ask you to get out of your car in any situation.That fear-based training tho.“Not within 2 car lengths of my traffic stop”. SUV is at least 4 car lengths away. The officer’s complaint with the other vehicle is with the other driver, not the driver he pulled over and harrassed. The officer was unnecessarily prolonging the detainment. The police officer has obvious anger issues. He will likely be the cause of unnecessary harm to citizens in the future. Wow, he even tries to slam the vehicle door on the woman. The police officer has more to worry about with all of the moving vehicles driving by than the woman who pulled over in wait for her sister.Asserting your rights makes these tyrants soooo madI like when police say their recording the interaction you after wait 2 or 3 years to get it and pay over hundreds dollarsFlorida Statute 901.151, no crime no ID gets null and voided when a cops ego is shattered.“I’ll explain it to you later “. Uh no sir. Explain it to me first then I’ll know if I’m legally obligated to cooperate!I don’t get why he’s yelling from 40ft away trying to tell the black car to go and then telling the women in the white car that the black car has to leave but never actually goes to the black car and tells it to leave. He’s just got ego issues.Embarrassing, disgusting and unprofessional are the kinder words I would use to describe the tyrant cops behaviour. A textbook example of how to turn decent people against cops.I feel bad for his family. all of their families.I the police exam needs to include questions to test the canidate’s undersanding as to why ciruclar reasoning is absurd.
Why is Donald Trump’s “big lie” so hard to discredit?
This has been a live question for more than a year, but inside it lies another: Do Republican officials and voters actually believe Trump’s claim that Joe Biden stole the 2020 election by corrupting ballots — the same ballots that put so many Republicans in office — and if they do believe it what are their motives?
A December 2021 University of Massachusetts-Amherst survey found striking linkages between attitudes on race and immigration on one hand and disbelief in the integrity of the 2020 election on the other.
According to the poll, two-thirds of Republicans, 66 percent, agreed that “the growth of the number of immigrants to the U.S. means that America is in danger of losing its culture and identity” and the same percentage of Republicans are convinced that “the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate with voters from poorer countries around the world.”
Divisions over racial equality were closely related to perceptions of the 2020 presidential election and the Capitol attack. For example, among those who agreed that White people in the United States have advantages based on the color of their skin, 87 percent believed that Joe Biden’s victory was legitimate; among neutrals, 44 percent believed it was legitimate; and among those who disagreed, only 21 percent believed it was legitimate. Seventy percent of people who agreed that White people enjoy advantages considered the events of Jan. 6 to be an insurrection; 26 percent of neutrals described it that way; and only 10 percent who disagreed did so, while 80 percent of this last group called it a protest. And while 70 percent of those who agreed that White people enjoy advantages blamed Trump for the events of Jan. 6, only 34 percent of neutrals did, and a mere 9 percent of those who disagreed did.
According to experts I asked, Republican elected officials who either affirm Donald Trump’s claim that the 2020 election was corrupt, or refuse to call Trump out, base their stance on a sequence of rationales.
Mike McCurry, President Bill Clinton’s press secretary, sees the origin of one rationale in demographic trends:
I believe much of the polarization and discord in national politics comes from changing demographics. Robert Jones of P.R.R.I. writes about this in “The End of White Christian America” and I think this is a source of many politico-cultural divisions and plays out in electoral politics. There is an America (“American dream”) that many whites were privileged to know growing up and it now seems to be evaporating or at least becoming subservient to other cultural ideals and norms. So that spurs anxiety and it is translated to the language and posture of politics.
McCurry went on:
I think otherwise well-meaning G.O.P. senators who flinch when it comes to common sense and serving the common good do so because they have no vocabulary or perspective which allows them to deal with the underlying changes in society. They feel the changes, they know constituents whom they otherwise like who feel the changes, but they cannot figure out how to lower the level of angst.
Some maintain that another rationale underpinning submission to the lie is that it is signals loyalty to the larger conservative cause.
Musa al-Gharbi, a sociologist at Columbia, pointed out in an email that acceptance of Trump’s false claims gives Republican politicians a way of bridging the gap between a powerful network of donors and elites who back free trade capitalism and the crucial bloc of white working-class voters seeking trade protectionism and continued government funding of Social Security and Medicare:
Embracing the Big Lie is an empty approach to populism for a lot of these politicians. It allows them to cast their rivals, and the system itself, as corrupt — to cash in on that widespread sentiment — and to cast themselves as exceptions to the rule. It allows them to portray themselves as allies of “the people,” but without actually changing anything in terms of the policies they advocate for, in terms of how they do business.
For those Republicans leaders, al-Gharbi continued, “who are the swamp, or could be reasonably construed as such, it is important to create an apparent distance from ‘the establishment.’ Flirting with the Big Lie is a good way of doing so.”
Sarah Binder, a political scientist at George Washington University and a senior fellow at Brookings, noted in an email that “fear of electoral retribution from Trump — and from Republican voters — drives Senate G.O.P. reluctance to break with Trump.”
The former president, she continued,
has succeeded in reshaping the G.O.P. as “his” party. This electoral dynamic applies in spades to Republicans’ unwillingness to challenge Trump over the Jan. 6 insurrection — or like Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell to back down from their initial criticisms. It seems as if fealty to Trump’s alternative version of the events of Jan. 6 is the litmus test for Republicans.
The underlying policy agreements between Republican incumbents and Trump reinforces these straightforward concerns over re-election, in Binder’s view:
For all of Trump’s nativist immigration, trade, and “America First” views, he was lock step with Republicans on cutting taxes and regulations and stacking the courts with young conservatives. In that light, certainly while Trump was in office, Senate Republicans held their noses on any anti-democratic behavior and stuck with Trump to secure the policies they craved.
Along similar lines, Bruce Cain, a political scientist at Stanford, observes that Republican elected officials make their calculations based on the goal of political survival:
What perhaps looks like collective derangement to many outside the party ranks is really just raw political calculation. The best strategy for regaining Congressional control is to keep Trump and his supporters inside the party tent, and the only way to do that is to go along with his myths in order to get along with him.
This approach, Cain continued, “is the path of least political resistance. Trump in 2016 demonstrated that he could win the presidency” while rejecting calls to reach out to minorities, by targeting a constituency that is “predominantly white and 80 percent conservative.” Because of its homogeneity, Cain continued, “the Republican Party is much more unified than the Democrats at the moment.”
While there was considerable agreement among the scholars and strategists whom I contacted that Republican politicians consciously develop strategies to deal with what many privately recognize is a lie, there is less agreement on the thinking of Republican voters.
How could the “Big Lie” campaign convince so many Republicans that Trump won an election he so clearly lost? Some observers wonder whether these beliefs are genuine or just an example of “expressive responding,” a term social scientists use to mean respondents are using a survey item to register a feeling rather than express a real belief.
In their own analysis of poll data, Cuthbert and Theodoridis concluded that most Republicans are true believers in Trump’s lie:
Apparently, Republicans are reporting a genuine belief that Biden’s election was illegitimate. If anything, a few Republicans may, for social desirability reasons, be using the “I’m not sure” option to hide their true belief that the election was stolen.
Al-Gharbi sharply disputes this conclusion:
Most Republican voters likely don’t believe in the Big Lie. But many would nonetheless profess to believe it in polls and surveys, and would support politicians who make similar professions, because these professions serve as a sign of defiance against the prevailing elites, they serve as signs of group solidarity and commitment.
Poll respondents, he continued,
often give the factually wrong answer about empirical matters, not because they don’t know the empirically correct answer, but because they don’t want to give political fodder to their opponents with respect to their preferred policies. And when one takes down the temperature on these political stakes, again, often the differences on ‘the facts’ also disappear.
One way to test how much people actually believe something, al-Gharbi wrote, “is to look out for yawning gaps between rhetoric and behaviors.” The fact that roughly 2,500 people participated in the Jan. 6 insurrection suggests that the overwhelming majority of Republicans do not believe the election was stolen no matter what they tell pollsters, in al-Gharbi’s view:
If huge shares of the country, 68 percent of G.O.P. voters, plus fair numbers of Independents and nonvoters, literally believed that we were in a moment of existential crisis, and the election had been stolen, and the future was at stake — why is it that only a couple thousand could muster the enthusiasm to show up and protest at the Capitol? In a world where 74 million voted for Trump, and more than two-thirds of these (i.e. more than 50 million people, roughly 1 out of every 5 adults in the U.S.) actually believed that the other party had illegally seized power and plan to use that power to harm people like themselves, the events of Jan. 6 would likely have played out much, much differently.
Whatever the motivation, Isabel V. Sawhill, a Brookings senior fellow, warned that Republican leaders and voters could be caught in a vicious cycle:
There may be a dynamic at work here in which an opportunistic strategy to please the Trump base has solidified that base, making it all the more difficult to take a stance in opposition to “whatever-Trump-wants.” It’s a Catch-22. To change the direction of the country requires staying in power but staying in power requires satisfying a public, a large share of whom has lost faith in our institutions, including the mainstream media and the democratic process.
Jake Grumbach, a political scientist at the University of Washington, noted in an email that the “big lie” fits into a larger Republican strategy: “In an economically unequal society, it is important for the conservative economic party to use culture war politics to win elections because they are unlikely to win based on their economic agenda.”
“There are a number of reasons why some Republican elites who were once anti-Trump became loyal to Trump,” Grumbach continued:
First is the threat of being primaried for failing to sufficiently oppose immigration or the Democratic Party, a process that ramped up first in the Gingrich era and then more so during the Tea Party era of the early 2010s. Second is that Republican elites who were once anti-Trump learned that the Republican-aligned network of interest groups and donors — Fox News, titans of extractive and low wage industry, the NRA, evangelical organizations, etc. — would mostly remain intact despite sometimes initially signaling that they would withhold campaign contributions or leave the coalition in opposition to Trump.
Frances Lee, a political scientist at Princeton, took a different tack, arguing that Republican members of Congress, especially those in the Senate, would like nothing better than to have the “big lie” excised from the contemporary political landscape:
I disagree with the premise that many senators buy into the “big lie.” Congressional Republicans’ stance toward the events of Jan. 6 is to move on beyond them. They do not spend time rebuking activists who question the 2020 outcome, but they also do not endorse such views, either. With rare exception, congressional Republicans do not give floor speeches questioning the 2020 elections. They do not demand hearings to investigate election fraud.
Instead, Lee argued, “Many Republican voters still support and love Donald Trump, and Republican elected officials want to be able to continue to represent these voters in Washington.” The bottom line, she continued, is that
Republican elected officials want and need to hold the Republican Party together. In the U.S. two-party system, they see the Republican Party as the only realistic vehicle for contesting Democrats’ control of political offices and for opposing the Biden agenda. They see a focus on the 2020 elections as a distraction from the most important issues of the present: fighting Democrats’ “tax and spend” initiatives and winning back Republican control of Congress in the 2022 midterms.
Paul Begala, a Democratic strategist, argues that
Trump lives by Machiavelli’s famous maxim that fear is a better foundation for loyalty than love. G.O.P. senators don’t fear Trump personally; they fear his followers. Republican politicians are so cowed by Trump’s supporters you can almost hear them moo.
Trumpism, Begala wrote in an email, “is more of a cult of personality, which makes fealty to the Dear Leader even more important. How else do you explain 16 G.O.P. senators who voted to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act in 2006, all refusing to even allow it to be debated in 2022?”
Begala compares Senator Mitch McConnell’s views of the Voting Rights Act in 2006 — “America’s history is a story of ever-increasing freedom, hope and opportunity for all. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 represents one of this country’s greatest steps forward in that story. Today I am pleased the Senate reaffirmed that our country must continue its progress towards becoming a society in which every person, of every background, can realize the American dream” — to McConnell’s stance now: “This is not a federal issue; it ought to be left to the states.”
Republican politicians, in Begala’s assessment,
have deluded themselves into thinking that Trump and the Big Lie can work for them. The reality is the opposite: Republican politicians work for Trump and the Big Lie. And they may be powerless to stop it if and when Trump uses it to undermine the 2024 presidential results.
It is at this point, Begala continued, “where leadership matters. Trump stokes bigotry, he sows division, he promotes racism, and when other G.O.P. politicians fail to disavow Trump’s divisiveness, they abet it. What a contrast to other Republican leaders in my lifetime.”
Like Begala, Charles Stewart III, a political scientist at M.I.T., was blunt in his analysis:
There’s generally a lack of nuance in considering why Republican senators fail to abandon Trump. Whereas Reagan spoke of the 11th Commandment, Trump destroyed it, along with many of the first 10. He is mean and vindictive and speaks to a set of supporters who are willing to take their energy and animus to the polling place in the primaries — or at least, that’s the worry. They are also motivated by racial animus and by Christian millennialism.
These voters, according to Stewart,
are not a majority of the Republican Party, but they are motivated by fear, and fear is the greatest motivator. Even if a senator doesn’t share those views — and I don’t think most do — they feel they can’t alienate these folks without stoking a fight. Why stoke a fight? Few politicians enter politics looking to be a martyr. Mainstream Republican senators may be overestimating their ability to keep the extremist genie in the bottle, but they have no choice right now, if they intend to continue in office.
Philip Bobbitt, a professor of law at Columbia and the University of Texas, argued in an email that Republican acceptance of Trump’s falsehoods is a reflection of the power Trump has over members of the party:
It’s the very fact that they know Trump’s claims are ludicrous — that is the point: like other bullies, he amuses himself and solidifies his authority by humiliating people and what can be more humiliating than compelling people to publicly announce their endorsements of something they know and everyone else knows to be false?
Thomas Mann, a Brookings senior fellow, made the case in an email that Trump has transformed the Republican Party so that membership now precludes having “a moral sense: honesty, empathy, respect for one’s colleagues, wisdom, institutional loyalty, a willingness to put country ahead of party on existential matters, an openness to changing conditions.”
Instead, Mann wrote:
The current, Trump-led Republican Party allows no room for such considerations. Representative Liz Cheney’s honest patriotism would be no more welcome among Senate Republicans than House Republicans. Even those current Republican senators whose earlier careers indicated a moral sense — Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, Richard Burr, Roy Blunt, Lisa Murkowski, Robert Portman, Ben Sasse, Richard Shelby — have felt obliged to pull their punches in the face of the Big Lie and attempted coup.
Bart Bonikowski, a sociologist at N.Y.U., describes the danger of this political dynamic:
In capturing the party, Trump perfectly embodied its ethnonationalist and authoritarian tendencies and delivered it concrete results — even if his policy stances were not always perfectly aligned with party orthodoxy. As a result, the Republican Party and Trumpism have become fused into a single entity — one that poses serious threats to the stability of the United States.
The unwillingness of Republican leaders to challenge Trump’s relentless lies, for whatever reason — for political survival, for mobilization of whites opposed to minorities, to curry favor, to feign populist sympathies — is as or more consequential than actually believing the lie.
If Republican officials and their voters are willing to swallow an enormous and highly consequential untruth for political gain, they have taken a first step toward becoming willing allies in the corrupt manipulation of future elections.
In that sense, the “big lie” is a precursor to more dangerous threats — threats that are plausible in ways that less than a decade ago seemed inconceivable. The capitulation to and appeasement of Trump by Republican leaders is actually setting up even worse possibilities than what we’ve lived through so far.
BREAKING: Trump just HUMILIATED himself with a delusional Christmas interview. To demand Hannity and Ingraham be kicked off the air over secret January 6 texts, sign here 👉
A clip from The Good Liars went viral the day before Virginia’s gubernatorial election, with a conservative Virginia voter being asked why he doesn’t like Critical Race Theory (which isn’t taught in Virginia schools.) The voter can’t explain a single thing about the concept, and instead says he just doesn’t like it, even though he admits he doesn’t know much about it. But these are the kinds of low-information voters that Republicans prey upon, and this has actually become the top issue for Virginia voters. Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins discusses this.
As the coronavirus began pushing the nation into lockdown in March 2020, Joshua Coleman, an anti-vaccine campaigner who organizes anti-vaccine rallies, went on Facebook Live to give his followers a rallying speech. He laid out what he thought the pandemic really was: an opportunity.
“This is the one time in human history where every single human being across this country, possibly across the planet, but especially in this country, are all going to have an interest in vaccination and vaccines,” he said. “So it’s time for us to educate.”
By “educate,” he meant to spread misinformation about vaccines.
The approach that Mr. Coleman displayed in his nearly 10-minute-long appearance — turning any negative event into a marketing opportunity — is characteristic of anti-vaccine activists. Their versatility and ability to read and assimilate the language and culture of different social groups have been key to their success. But Mr. Coleman’s speech also encapsulated a yearslong campaign during which the anti-vaccine movement has maneuvered itself to exploit what Mr. Coleman called “a very unique position in this moment in time.”
Over the last six years, anti-vaccine groups and leaders have begun to organize politically at a level like never before. They’ve founded state political action committees, formed coalitions with other constituencies, and built a vast network that is now the foundation of vaccination opposition by conservative groups and legislators across the country. They have taken common-sense concepts — that parents should be able to raise their children as they see fit, and that medical decisions should be autonomous and private — and warped them in ways that have set back decades of public health advances.
The power of anti-vaccine mobilization is particularly evident now in efforts to protect Americans against Covid-19. Only about 61 percent of eligible Americans are fully vaccinated — not enough to provide national protection — even though the vaccines are free and are the best tool for keeping people out of overcrowded hospitals. But those who are baffled by the outsize influence of the anti-vaccine movement must understand how carefully its leaders have navigated their way to this point.
Vaccine hesitancy has existed in some form since the development of the first vaccine over 200 years ago. But the 2014-2015 measles outbreak, which began among mostly unvaccinated visitors at Disneyland in California and led to more than 125 cases, woke up the nation to the threat of that hesitancy. The only reason measles had gained a foothold was that pockets of the country with low vaccination rates had led to the erosion of herd immunity in those places.
In years leading up to that outbreak, vaccines had not been a partisan issue in the United States. But something was changing. Politicians like Chris Christie and Rand Paul called for respecting parents’ choice to vaccinate their children or not (although Mr. Christie later backpedaled a bit).
Meanwhile, public outcry followed the discovery that the outbreak began with unvaccinated children, with everyone from soccer moms to late-night television hosts lambasting parents who refused to vaccinate their kids. A coalition of parents led by Leah Russin, co-founder of the nonprofit group Vaccinate California, worked with California legislators like Richard Pan, a state senator and pediatrician, to push for a bill that would remove all nonmedical exemptions for school vaccine requirements, which had grown in recent years to allow pockets of low vaccination coverage to spring up.
But the mockery of “anti-vaxxers” in that uproar also mobilized the movement.
Anti-vaccine activists of all political stripes pushed back — hard — against the bill. When they found that inaccurate claims about vaccines didn’t sway California legislators, they shifted gears and asserted that removing nonmedical exemptions impinged on their freedom to raise their children as they wanted. In the late-Tea Party era, that argument had traction.
Renée DiResta, a researcher at Stanford, found through Twitter analysis that there was “an evolution in messaging.” The movement discovered that a focus on freedom “was more resonant with legislators and would help them actually achieve their political goals,” Ms. DiResta said to me. Anti-vaccine Twitter accounts that had been posting for years about autism and toxins pivoted to Tea Party-esque ideas, leading to the emergence of a new cluster of accounts focused on “vaccine choice” messaging, Ms. DiResta said.
Anti-vaccine activists used the measles outbreak and others to claim public officials would force “harmful” vaccines on people. They also found new ways to court politicians, especially those who take pride in bucking the system.
Just a week after the California bill had been filed, a well-meaning Republican legislator in Texas, Jason Villalba, filed a similar bill in Austin. But Mr. Villalba didn’t realize that anti-vaccine sentiment had been growing in his state, and his bill unwittingly “kicked the hornet’s nest,” said Rekha Lakshmanan, director of advocacy and public policy for a Texas-based nonprofit group, the Immunization Partnership. “All of a sudden we saw a kind of new generation of the anti-vaccine movement in Texas emerge.”
Though Mr. Villalba’s bill never got to a vote, it helped drive the new guard to form Texans for Vaccine Choice, which would become a PAC, to lobby against the legislation. Other influential conservative state PACs took notice and may have joined forces with Texans for Vaccine Choice behind the scenes. The group’s emphasis on parents’ rights and medical freedom were a natural fit, aligning them with Tea Party-type Republicans like Jonathan Stickland, whose ringing cry for any issue was “freedom.”
Likely under the tutelage of conservative grass-roots groups, the fledgling anti-vaccine PAC learned effective political electioneering. It backed a champion for its cause to challenge Mr. Villalba in the Republican primary, a far-right politician named Lisa Luby Ryan. When Ms. Ryan defeated Mr. Villalba, Texans for Vaccine Choice cried victory. That Ms. Ryan eventually lost the general election was beside the point. Anti-vaccine activists had shown they were a formidable force, and Texas Republicans learned it was “politically expedient” to stay silent when, for example, Mr. Stickland attacked vaccine scientists, as The Houston Chronicle editorial board wrote.
With vaccine refusal reframed as “parent choice,” Republicans could no longer risk appearing to oppose “freedom of choice” on any issue. More state anti-vaccine PACs and nonprofit groups formed, and social media allowed greater collaboration. The “freedom” messaging united anti-vaccine groups, particularly those in Texas and California, and withstood social media platforms’ growing attempts to stanch false claims.
New anti-vaccine organizations also began fund-raising in earnest, bringing in millions of dollars, both from wealthy donors and by selling fear. They use this money to create slick propaganda for larger audiences, such as a spate of anti-vaccine films like “Vaxxed,” which provided a blueprint for pandemic denialism films like “Plandemic.” And they donate funds to the politicians they hope to win over.
At the anti-vaccine Health Freedom Summit in 2020, several anti-vaccine activists spoke. Jennifer Larson, who believes vaccination caused her child’s autism, described how she had worked to gain the trust of Minnesota legislators. She and another vaccine opponent, Mark Blaxill, had formed a political party in 2011 to run candidates who oppose vaccine mandates and “medical injury,” but the two-party system was too entrenched. So they pivoted to supporting major-party politicians who would champion their causes.
“If they say something that might be considered controversial, we have a community of people who will run to have their back and support them,” Ms. Larson said at the gathering. “If you can, get involved … Get to know them, get them to trust you.”
That became the anti-vaccine playbook across the nation. And in state after state, vaccine opponents have gradually leveraged their state and local Republican parties to their ends, riding the “freedom” wave that has become so central to party messaging today. Hence the seamless marriage between anti-vaccine activists and groups protesting mask mandates and lockdowns.
As one example, by 2020, anti-vaccine groups joined anti-mask groups in Ohio to support a Republican-sponsored bill to curtail the Department of Health’s ability to issue quarantine orders and allow legislators to rescind health department orders. Though that attempt failed, Republican legislators eventually succeeded in 2021 in barring public schools and colleges from requiring Covid-19 vaccination before the vaccines had full FDA approval. States like Texas and Florida are now trying to stop businesses from requiring Covid vaccines.
“The most dangerous thing that could happen,” Dr. Peter Hotez, co-director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, told me he had worried in recent years, “is the Republican Party adopts anti-vaccine anti-science to the major platform. … This is the nightmare situation I’d hoped to avoid.”
Tennessee offers a glimpse of that nightmare.
Dr. Michelle Fiscus, Tennessee’s medical director in charge of vaccinations, was fired in mid-July after promoting vaccination to young people, an effort state legislators like Scott Cepicky, a Republican representative, found “reprehensible.” And then the state suspended vaccination outreach for all vaccines.
Dr. Fiscus says the anti-vaccine movement is partly to blame. “I think it’s been this insidious growth of their influence on susceptible legislators,” she said, “especially in Southern states where they have taken the ‘medical freedom’ kind of angle.”
Though Tennessee has since resumed most of those programs, the pause was a bellwether. Had widespread Republican opposition to Covid vaccination now apparently reached the point of interfering with routine childhood vaccinations?
Those of us who have followed the anti-vaccine movement for years know that’s been the plan all along. Although the movement’s leaders could not have known a pandemic was coming, they were more ready to take advantage of the moment with their messaging than public health experts and policymakers were to combat it.
The nature of the scientific process during a pandemic, with its unrelenting influx of new data and constantly evolving understanding of it, makes health communication incredibly challenging. That reality, combined with botched messaging from public health agencies, has emboldened vaccine opponents.
Americans hoping to fight the anti-vaccine movement must learn to use the same tools of political rhetoric and mobilization, to speak up against misinformation and to swarm lawmakers’ phone lines to oppose bills that harm public health. Republican legislators must defend the importance of public health more forcefully.
The Covid vaccine hesitancy running through the Republican Party threatens to do more than prolong this pandemic. It also threatens America’s ability to fight other diseases, of the past and the future.