Eric Greitens … does that name ring a bell for you? It probably does today, but a month ago, unless you live in the state of Missouri, you probably hadn’t heard of him. Before I get into his current newsmaking event and the ramifications, let me give you a little bit of background on Mr. Greitens.
He is a Rhodes scholar with a doctorate degree from Oxford. He is a former Navy Seal who served four tours of duty, rose to the rank of lieutenant commander, commanded a unit targeting Al-Qaeda, and was awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. Greitens founded a nonprofit organization, The Mission Continues , to benefit veterans. In 2013, Time included him in its list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Sounds like a pretty decent all-round guy so far, eh?
A Democrat-turned-Republican, he ran for and won the office of Governor of the state of Missouri in 2016 and took his oath of office on January 9th, 2017. And here’s where it starts to go downhill. Greitens left office on June 1st, 2018 – just 17 months after moving into the governor’s mansion – due to a felony indictment for campaign-related offenses including computer tampering, and a credible sexual assault accusation. A General Assembly had convened to commence impeachment proceedings, but Greitens resigned before the Assembly was able to decide on impeachment.
And yet, after leaving the governor’s office under a dark cloud, Mr. Greitens threw his hat in the ring and in March 2021, announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring incumbent Roy Blunt in the 2022 election. Now, nothing thus far would have qualified him as one of the nastiest in the GOP, but then last weekend he released a violent campaign advertisement showing him wielding a shotgun, flanked by men dressed in full military gear carrying assault rifles. In the ad, Greitens declared:
“Join the MAGA crew. Get a RINO hunting permit. There’s no bagging limit, no tagging limit, and it doesn’t expire until we save our country.”
Numerous times lately I have commented that the Republican Party ‘eats its own’ these days, and this terribly violent “anti-Rino” advertisement seems to affirm that. The party is split along the lines of the Big Lie … if you believe, or at least pretend to believe, that Donald Trump won the 2020 election and if you are willing to swear an oath of fealty to Donald Trump, then you are part of the core GOP. But if, as numerous brave souls like the ones we heard from in Tuesday’s January 6th committee hearing, you are fact-oriented, believe in democracy, believe in upholding your oath of office, believe that, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “Democracy is a rule of the people, for the people and by the people”, then you become a GOP outcast, or as they refer to it, a RINO – Republican In Name Only.
Yesterday I talked a bit about the violent threats that had been received by election officials and their families, and I also noted that there had been, since Tuesday’s hearing, a significant increase in the threats of violence against the committee members and their families. We all understand that the threats against such people as Brad Raffensperger, Rusty Bowers, Gabe Sterling, Adam Kinzinger, Shaye Moss and her mother Ruby Freeman were instigated and incited by none other than Donald Trump and his minions as he tried, illegally, to cling to power. In the same way, Mr. Greitens’ ad is fully intended to stir the masses, the maga crowd, as they are known, and incite them to commit violence against any who disagree with the maga lies.
This, friends, is the new GOP. Now, logic tells us that the GOP cannot survive long as a single political party under these conditions, but that it will crumble as it destroys itself from within. Disagreements over policy are one thing, and a natural part of political discourse, but calling for violence raises the stakes and is untenable in the long term. But the concern is … what happens in the interim and at the end of the day, where are we left? The U.S. clearly needs two viable … viable being the key word here … political parties and today we do not have that. It’s past time for the GOP, if there are any members who haven’t sold their souls to Donald Trump, to take a long, hard look at itself, its members, its ideology and decide what, if anything, they actually stand for. Eric Greitens is but a symptom of a much larger, lethal disease.