The sheer number of Democrats pouncing on the racist conversation between three Los Angeles City Councilmembers is yet another reminder of how far Republicans have fallen.
When confronted with comments by colleagues that should be easily condemned, Republicans have sought to ignore or defend rather than condemn.
Though Democrats are far from perfect at policing their own party, they acted swiftly when audio recordings leaked of Councilmembers Nury Martinez, Kevin de Leon and Gil Cedillo having a gerrymandering strategy session that included calling the African American child of a fellow councilman a little monkey in Spanish and dismissing District Attorney George Gascón as “with the Blacks.”
Democrats from President Joe Biden to Senator Alex Padilla to members of the Legislature to fellow local elected officials have called for the three to resign. So far, only Martinez has done so. Cedillo lost his primary and will be out in a few months anyway and de Leon perhaps believes this whole racist thing will blow over – though he might resign by the time this column is in print.
Notably, Gov. Gavin Newsom, who for quite some time has been focused on a shadow campaign for presidency at the expense of governing California, has been reluctant to take a stand. But he is an outlier.
For Biden and others, it was easy to condemn the comments and call for the resignation of the councilmembers.
The comments were shocking to anyone with ears and there’s no downside to defending a little child being racially abused, even if there will be political repercussions within the party’s leadership and among many voters who feel betrayed by the conversation.
So then why, for example, is it so hard for Republicans to condemn the racist comments made recently by Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville at a rally in Nevada held by former President Donald Trump? Tuberville said that Democrats were “pro-crime,” because they “want to take over what you got” and “control what you have. He added that Democrats are in favor of reparations for descendents of slaves, because “they think the people that do the crime are owed that.”
In other words, Tuberville is saying that descendants of slaves are criminals. This should be easily denounced by members of a political party founded in opposition to slavery. And yet?
Earlier this year when the Republican National Committee strongly denounced two of its members. No, they didn’t condemn Colorado Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, who had recently denigrated a Muslim Democratic colleague as a jihadi and a suicide bomber.
Instead, the RNC took aim at Reps. Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney for acting in their capacity as members of Congress by participating in a committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol and the role members of Congress and Trump played in it. Unconcerned with racism, the RNC was mad Kinzinger and Cheney were “deliberately jeopardiz(ing) victory in November.”
Thanks to leaked audio, we know Kinzinger and Cheney weren’t just tilting at windmills. Recordings surfaced in April of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy telling colleagues that Trump bore “responsibility” for the attack on the Capitol and felt so strongly that McCarthy considered telling Trump to resign. This has all faded from memory though as McCarthy has repeatedly sought Trump’s approval in a quest to become the next Speaker of the House.
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And let’s not forget Trump’s call to a Georgia election official asking that he “recalculate” the state’s election results or simply “find 11,780 votes” because that’s the total Trump would have needed to become president in 2020. This is obviously corrupt and borderline treasonous, but hey, Republicans are trying to win the midterms. Hence, the GOP is unwilling to call out what should be called out.
Even if at times individual Republicans have expressed condemnation, their dissent fades and the party line prevails for the sake of winning at the polls.
By contrast, Democrats’ swift action in response to the leaked tape in Los Angeles will allow them to put the leaked audio behind them and move on. On this one they’re right both morally and politically. They will regain trust among voters because they strongly showed what they are for by showing what they are against.
Unfortunately, Republicans seem incapable of doing the same.
Follow Matt Fleming on Twitter @FlemingWords.