What’s Wrong With The Right?

Most of the mid-term focus has centered on the Senate races, and with good reason.  The Senate is currently evenly divided at 50/50 and if Republicans can net just one new seat, they will take a majority and all bets for anything worthwhile coming out of Congress are off.  But we also shouldn’t ignore the House of Representatives, where all 435 seats are up for grabs and most predictions are that the Republicans will gain a majority there.  That supposition might not be so discouraging if there were normal human beings, educated people with the best interests of the nation at heart, running for House seats, but as Dana Milbank shows us in his column today, that ain’t the case!

Think you already know crazy? Meet the House GOP Class of ’22.

By Dana Milbank

7 October 2022

Can we have order in the House?

Not if this crowd takes over.

Much of the public focus in the midterm elections has been on the, er, exotic nature of the Republic nominees in Senate and gubernatorial races, and understandably so. There’s Mehmet Oz’s crudite, Doug Mastriano’s white supremacists, and Herschel Walker’s … well, pretty much everything he says and does. But GOP nominees for the House are no less erratic — just less well known.

There’s the woman from North Carolina who was accused of hitting one husband with an alarm clock, trying to hit another with a car (and also menacing him with a frying pan) and punching her daughter. She denies that, though she also invoked a conspiracy belief that alien lizards control the government.

There’s the man from Ohio who lied about his military record, lavishly promoted QAnon themes, acknowledged bypassing police barriers at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and with 120 gallons of paint turned his entire lawn into a Trump banner.

There’s the man from Michigan who claimed that Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman participated in a satanic ritual, who once disparaged women’s suffrage, and who, though Black, raised concern about Democrats “eroding the white population.”

Then there are: the Texas woman accused by her estranged husband of cruelty toward his teenage daughter; the Colorado woman who backed an effort to secede from her state; the Virginia woman who speculated that rape victims wouldn’t get pregnant; and the Wisconsin man who used campaign funds from his failed 2020 race to come to Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, where he apparently breached Capitol barricades.

What they all have in common is that they’re in competitive races, which means they could well be part of a Republican House majority in January. And that’s on top of a larger group of GOP nominees in deep-red congressional districts who are a motley assortment of election deniers, climate-change deniers, QAnon enthusiasts and Jan. 6 participants who propose to abolish the FBI and ban abortion with no exceptions, among other things. Some won nominations despite efforts by party leadership to stop them and continue without financial support from the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Maybe this is why Kevin McCarthy, the man who as House speaker would have the task of leading this rogues’ gallery, calls his agenda a “Commitment to America.” Many members of his new majority might be good candidates for commitment.

J.R. Majewski, a Republican running to represent Ohio’s 9th Congressional District, at a campaign rally in Youngstown, Ohio, on Sept. 17. (Tom E. Puskar/AP)

J.R. Majewski, the Trump-backed lawn painter from Ohio, has a different agenda: He wants to “abolish all unconstitutional three letter agencies,” including the CIA. He has said he’s willing to fight a civil war, and he made a campaign video in which he carried a rifle and said he would “do whatever it takes” to “bring this country back to its former glory.”

Sandy Smith, a Republican seeking to represent North Carolina’s 1st Congressional District, speaks at a rally in Wilmington, N.C., on Sept. 23. (Chris Seward/AP)

In North Carolina, Sandy Smith is folding into her plans for the country the domestic-abuse allegations against her: “I never ran over anyone with a car and I never hit anyone in the head with a frying pan. … I am bringing a frying pan to DC, though,” she tweeted in May. (Disclosure: My wife, a pollster, is a consultant to Smith’s Democratic opponent.) Smith also wants “executions” of those who, she falsely claims, stole the 2020 election from Donald Trump.

Republican House candidate John Gibbs speaks with reporters in Byron Township, Mich., on Aug. 2. (Sarah Rice for The Washington Post)

Maybe this is what John Gibbs, the Michigan Republican who questioned women’s suffrage, had in mind when he wrote as a Stanford student that women don’t “posess [sic] the characteristics necessary to govern” because they rely on “emotional reasoning.”

McCarthy will surely have to put down many an uprising from what might be termed the Insurrection Caucus. Wisconsin nominee Derrick Van Orden, like Majewski and a few other GOP nominees, was outside the U.S. Capitol that day — and was photographed inside a restricted area, though he says he left when things turned violent. And Kelly Cooper, a nominee in Arizona, wants “the prisoners of January 6th … to be released on day one.”

George Santos, left, is a Republican running for New York’s 3rd Congressional District, while the GOP’s Zach Nunn is running to represent Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District. (Bloomberg News; AP)

George Santos, a nominee in New York, claimed he was the victim of election fraud in his failed 2020 bid. Sam Peters, a nominee in Nevada who has used the “#QArmy” hashtag and embraced being called the “male” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, characterized those facing charges for the insurrection as “civically engaged American citizens exercising their constitutional freedoms.” And Iowa nominee Zach Nunn, who found it suspicious that Capitol Police couldn’t “stop a bunch of middle-aged individuals from walking onto the floor,” argued that “not a single one” of the defendants was charged with and convicted of insurrection. (That’s because the charge is “seditious conspiracy.”) Madison Gesiotto Gilbert, a nominee from Ohio, was precocious in her false claims of election fraud: She claimed in 2018 that a voting machine had switched her vote in the Ohio Senate race from Republican to Democrat.

GOP candidate Monica De La Cruz, left, is seeking to represent Texas’s 15th Congressional District, while Bo Hines, right, is running as a Republican in North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District. (AP; Getty Images)

Overlapping with the Insurrection Caucus are those with qualifications that might, at best, be called unconventional. Monica De La Cruz, a Texas nominee and top GOP recruit, was accused in a court filing a year ago of “cruel and aggressive conduct” toward her then-husband’s 14-year-old daughter, including pinching the teen to stop her from crying; she denies the claim. In Colorado, nominee Barbara Kirkmeyer once led an attempt by 11 counties there to secede and become their own state. In North Carolina, nominee Bo Hines (who wants a 10-year moratorium on immigration) spoke of a “banana republic” as though the common term for flailing democracies was actually referring to the clothing store of the same name.

Of course, the People’s House has always attracted the eccentric, and even the shady, from both parties. But the would-be Republican Class of ’22 is extraordinary in the number of oddballs and extremists in its ranks. This is no accident: The trend in Republican primaries, accelerated by Trump, has favored those with the most eye-popping tapestry of conspiracy theories and unyielding positions. GOP primaries are dominated by a sliver of the electorate on the far right.

That’s why they produce figures such as Erik Aadland, a Colorado nominee who claims that the 2020 election was “absolutely rigged” and that the country is “on the brink of being taken over by a communist government” and who has followed various extremist groups, including the Proud Boys, on social media. In New Jersey, Frank Pallotta is again a Republican nominee, after declaring during his 2020 run for the same seat that he stands by the Oath Keepers, a group whose leaders are now on trial over Jan. 6.

Republican Karoline Leavitt, left, is seeking to represent New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District, while Yesli Vega, right, is running as a Republican in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District. (AP; The Washington Post)

Starting in January, a likely narrow Republican majority might have to find consensus among a freshman class that can’t agree on basic facts. Karoline Leavitt, a nominee in New Hampshire, claims that “the alleged ‘existential threat of climate change’ is a manufactured crisis by the Democrat Party.” In Virginia, nominee Yesli Vega argued that it was less likely for a rape victim to become pregnant because “it’s not something that’s happening organically.” Also in Virginia, nominee Hung Cao asserted that more “people get bludgeoned to death and stabbed to death than they get shot,” which is wrong by an order of magnitude.

Republican Robert Burns is running for Congress in New Hampshire. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

But these nominees have offered unique policy ideas! Robert Burns of New Hampshire said in 2018 that he would allow abortion only to protect the “life of the mother” — but “we would need a panel in this sort of situation” to decide whether the ailing woman can get the lifesaving procedure.

A real-life death panel! Challenged recently on this position, Burns replied last month: “In response to the death panels, I believe women of color and low economic status deserve second and third opinions before being forced into abortions.” Put another way, a woman would need a second and third opinion before she’s allowed to save her own life.

The House Republican Class of ’22 will be many things, but “boring” is not one of them.

25 thoughts on “What’s Wrong With The Right?

  1. I follow American politics because so many things in the US seep through our borders. I am horrified that there are no background checks or any checks it seems and any clown or killer can run for office. I’m scared for this election and I’m Canadian. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sadly, U.S. politics ultimately affects most other nations, at least western democracies. And I have heard of the lunacy that is seeping across the border … the first time I really noticed it was the trucker’s convoy earlier this year. Like you, though, I am horrified that there are even candidates on the ballot who participated in the attempted coup on January 6th 2021!!! How can that be? And there are many who have said they will refuse to accept the election results if they lose. Still others are filled with racial hatred and are attempting to incite violence! This country today is a powder keg and I fear what November’s elections will bring. I’ve already made plans to stock up on extra groceries the week before the election, for I don’t know if it will be safe to go out in the days following the election. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I saw where someone said, she didn’t care if Herschel Walker aborted baby eagles, she (?) wants him in the senate.
    It is definitely just because they are republican.

    This is not going to end well and I dread 2024. We are living in the midst of a historic change in our country and perhaps the world, as well and it’s not a good change. If good does eventually triumph, it will take generations and we may not have that type of time left. I don’t feel I’m a pessimist, but a realist.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ah yes, that was Dana Loesch, a conservative radio host and former spokesperson for the National Rifle Association (NRA). I heard she said that, and also that she said she didn’t care if he blew up the planet, that the only thing that matters is that Republicans gain ‘control’ of the Senate. Which shows you just what the Republican Party is … dictatorial. They do not care about the people of this country, only about power, and if they have to shove trash like Herschel Walker under our noses, they will do so. Whatever it takes to gain control … that’s scary. You are being a realist, and I share your concerns, but it can’t depress us to the point that we give up and stop fighting.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Hmmmm … not necessarily. There are Republicans who I would consider voting for … but these clowns have never even read the document they plan to take an oath to uphold! Their platform is violence, lies, and discord. Now, give me an honest Republican with integrity, and whether or not I would vote for him/her, I would at least respect them and not feel a cold dread at the thought of them being elected.


  3. Dangerous.
    If one quarter of these get elected, they will add to the toxicity in the Republican Party. It will take a generation’s worth of effort to repair the damage done. If you are lucky, it would be done through the political system.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Jill, the group certainly does not represent the best of us. It makes me sad and embarrassed that my old party thinks these are the kinds of people we should have representing us. Democrats are not perfect, but they are lot closer to that aspiration than this group from the GOP. A long time ago, I used to believe our representatives had better tools and data than we did. I have long ago abandoned that as an idea, but I also abandoned the hope that all of them had a clue about how to govern. Keith

    Liked by 4 people

    • Can you imagine how the Republicans would react if the Democratic party brandished a candidate like Marge Greene or Herschel Walker? They would be having hissy fits! I think … it seems that the GOP no longer takes good governance seriously, and thus they don’t take the future of this nation seriously. It seems to be a game … one played for high stakes. And you’re right … they may have access to more sophisticated data sources than you and I, but I’d be willing to bet that you and I have more knowledge of the Constitution than at least half of the Republican congressional candidates today, and more to the point … you and I care. We care about the future of this nation, we care about people … ALL people. And we have something that seems to be lacking in the current crop of Republican candidates: common sense. Sigh. It is sad, it is discouraging, and it is frightening.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jill, of course, Ted Cruz was once voted by his peers as the most hated man in Congress, not the best of titles. The main reason is his tendency to grandstand that distracted from the task at hand. And, before the current vintage of poor candidates, Messers. DeSantis, Gaetz, Gohmer, Gosar, et al walked the halls.

        The Dems have had a few interesting characters, whom I have disagreed with, but the number who are simply unqualified are dwarfed by those in the GOP. A lot of this is due to gerrymandering where it is easier for unqualified strident folks like Greene and Broebart can get elected. It is an indictment of those who gerrymander. They have cheated to a point that the ramifications have come home to roost. Keith

        Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.