On the first anniversary of the January 6 insurrection, I authored a column documenting and confirming how the Republican Party in the continuing Age of Donald Trump has become the anti-democracy party. And frighteningly enough, the resemblance of today’s Republican Party of Il Duce Trump with that of the Fascist Party of Benito Mussolini, which took control of Italy in 1922, is absolutely uncanny.
The Trumpist thugs who marched on Washington on January 6, 2021 were the violent enforcement arm of the Trumpist conspiracy to commit sedition against the United States and prevent the lawful transfer of power to the then president-elect Joe Biden. The conspiracy planned to achieve its goal through the January 6 violence, which had as its aim the prevention of the lawful counting of the electoral votes and the intimidation of the then Vice President Mike Pence, who had the Constitutional duty to perform the count. Pence ultimately performed his duty after being advised to do so by former Vice President Dan Quayle. Yes, that Dan Quayle, the most unfairly stigmatized Vice President in American history, who ironically emerged as the Hero of Democracy on January 6, 2021, meriting him a Nobel Peace Prize nomination.
The Trumpist thugs were the exact equivalent of Benito Mussolini’s Fascist Blackshirts, with their March on Rome in October, 1922 that forced a capitulation of the Italian government and surrender of power to Mussolini. And similar to the Trumpist thugs, the Blackshirts and the vigilante squadistri had their collaborative cohorts within the Italian government.
The messages of today’s Republican Party and the Italian Fascists of the 1920s are remarkably similar. Like the Italian Fascists of the 1920s, today’s Republicans are saying to the American electorate that we will continue to deprive you of democracy, but we will make sure that your property will be protected and that your trains will run on time. And just as the Italian Fascists practiced a racist ideology against Slavs, today’s Trumpist-controlled Republican Party is a bulwark of racism against African-Americans.
Yet the Republican National Committee took this message to an even more malignant level with its passage of its Salt Lake City winter meeting resolution regarding the House of Representatives investigation of the January 6 insurrection. This measure sought to protect individuals engaged in the seditious conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election as participants in “legitimate political discourse.“ Like the Italian Fascists of 1922 who disregarded the rule of law, today’s GOP will obstruct the rule of law in attempting to prevent any lawful investigation of the sedition conspiracy.
The passage of the “legitimate political discourse” resolution was too much to condone for even many erstwhile supporters of Trump, even former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and National Republican Committeeman Bill Palatucci. As my readers know, I am hardly a staunch admirer of these two individuals, but I must grudgingly give them credit for this.
Yet former New Jersey Republican State Senate leader Tom Kean, Jr. has remained silent on the passage of the “legitimate political discourse” resolution. This is consistent with his acquiescence in the actions and policies of Donald Trump and the Trump administration since the Donald took office in January, 1977, including attending Trump’s rally in Wildwood at the beginning of January, 2020.
One cannot attribute this silence on the part of Tom Kean, Jr. to any reluctance on his part to criticize a Republican president. In his 2006 campaign for the United States Senate against Bob Menendez, he excoriated the then incumbent Republican President George W. Bush as having made “horrendous” mistakes in the war in Iraq.
The irony is all too appalling. In emphatically castigating a Republican President, George W. Bush, who was no threat whatsoever to American democracy, Tom Kean, Jr. displayed the Eye of the Tiger. In refusing to criticize a Republican President who was an absolute mortal threat to American democracy, Donald Trump, Tom Kean, Jr. exhibited the Silence of the Lambs.
There is a substantial element of human tragedy involved here. Tom Kean, Jr. is a profoundly decent individual who passionately believes in democracy and deplores racism in all its forms. He is the scion of the most honorable Republican family in New Jersey history in defending democracy and combatting racism. Yet in pursuit of his campaign to unseat the New Jersey Seventh District Incumbent Democratic Congressman Tom Malinowski, Tom Kean, Jr. has allowed his ambitions to “Trump” his principles.
Indeed, Kean’s continuing silence gives all the evidence and appearance of an implicit Faustian bargain with House of Representatives Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy. In exchange for Kean’s silence on Trump and Trumpism, the authoritarian, ultra-Trumpist McCarthy will ensure enthusiastic support for Kean from the House Republican leadership, financial and otherwise, in both the Republican primary and the general election against Malinowski.
Yet the memo released yesterday by the Malinowski campaign of the poll taken by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, a highly reputed Democratic firm, shows an unanticipated high degree of unpopularity for Donald Trump in the Seventh District, 38 to 56 percent unfavorable.
Given the fact that the same poll shows a dead heat, 46-46, between Kean and Malinowski, the Trump factor may be fatal to the Kean campaign in attempting to woo the eight percent the poll shows as undecided.
Already, the Malinowski campaign seems well poised to take advantage of the Kean silence on the Trumpist “legitimate political discourse” resolution. The video ad crafted for the campaign by the Brad Lawrence-Steve DeMicco partnership also uses Kean’s silence on this issue as a means of portraying him as a candidate afraid to stand up for the needs of the voters in the Seventh District.
In my second installment in this series, I described the problems Kean’s record on guns and abortion may present to his campaign. His temporizing with Trump and Trumpism, however, is even more likely to be the major obstacle to his election.
Next final installment in a four-part series: Kean, Jr. v. Malinowski: The economy is a double-edge sword issue.
Alan J. Steinberg served as regional administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush and as executive director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission.