Back when I was a kid at camp, I went through the newbie-at-camp ritual of snipe hunting. For those not familiar, “snipe hunting” is a version of a Fool’s Errand, a practical joke.
In this case, the butt of the joke is sent into the woods with a flashlight, a bag, and a net and/or stick to look for snipes. Except, this version of a “snipe” is not a real animal, so the humor comes from sending your friends into the woods to look for something non-existent. It is a very old joke that keeps getting marks even today, a sort of right-of-passage for camp kids.
I feel like a large portion of the American punditry and Democratic politicians are on a continuous snipe hunt for the Good Republicans. The latest snipe hunt relates to Mike Pence, who is now qualifying as a Good Republican for pushing back against Trump on January 6, 2020, and not reversing the election results.
The January 6 Committee is pushing this as a narrative, and it does serve their purposes, in telling a story that Trump and his rioting allies were out of control and it could have been so much worse. But outside of that, there are two issues. First, Pence should have stood up to Trump much sooner, and second, the GOP that pushed back against the January 6 mob in the days after the insurrection have moved to embrace it.
So, Pence is cast as a hero for not breaking the law, doing the bare minimum. However, even worse for the snipe hunters who are very sure there are many Good Republicans out there behind the tree stumps, despite this bare-minimum of action, Pence is a pariah in the Republican Party. In Jamelle Bouie’s New York Times piece last week, Bouie calls this “the soft bigotry of low expectations,” something evident in the desire to cast Pence as a hero for doing the bare minimum. Bouie even points to evidence that Dan “You Forgot The ‘E’ In Potatoe” Qualye had to talk Pence out of overturning the election. Maybe Qualye is really the hero?
Of course, no matter how Pence got to the end result of not overturning the election and ruining our democracy, he will pay the political price. Pence is showing lots of signs he will run for President in 2024. Unfortunately for his chances, we have lots of signs that in today’s GOP, Republicans who do the right thing are punished politically for it. A perfect example of this is soon-to-be former Republican Congressguy Chris Jacobs, who said he would back an assault weapons ban bill if it came to a vote on the House floor. As you can see at the link, he’s not even going to bother trying to get reelected. Another example is Representative Tom Rice, one of just 10 Republicans who supported impeaching Trump, who lost his primary last week.
Speaking of gun laws, remember how that framework for a first step towards gun reform was trumpeted as proof that the parties can work together, that there really are enough Good Republicans? The leader on the GOP side of the negotiations over this possible bill, Texas Senator John Cornyn, has not been sounding so enthused about this framework lately. And his state’s GOP office has officially rebuked him for even thinking about cutting back a teeny bit on guns.
Not some random right-wing radio talk show host out of Waco rebuking him. But the actual party.
Listen, I am all for rewarding Republicans for doing the right thing. But the panel talking heads on Morning Joe and CNN seem to think there are large numbers of Republicans out there who can turn the party around. The very same party that fought hard to block the January 6 Commission from even forming, and are sending two of their own to political Siberia for daring to be on it.
A Republican Party that has a lot of good members would not be able to punish Liz Cheney by primarying her into political oblivion. Nor would a party with a lot of good members be fine with leaders who seem to want to LITERALLY bury any remaining good Republicans. A RINO (Republicans in Name Only) Hunting Permit is a deeply disturbing joke if it came from some crazed right-wing Youtuber, much less from a former governor and party senate candidate.
I understand the need in some people’s minds to address the Good Republicans, to show them they do not need to be defined by MAGA, to bring them back to something that at least resembles pro-democracy. The problem is, the people they are trying to reach are fewer and fewer in number, and have practically disappeared from the party. This political snipe hunt is increasingly a waste of time, and all people who are truly good need to understand this.
The last word goes to neo-dream pop maven, Hazel English.