Lessons for the Republicans’ leadership, starting with 1917.By Stephen Golub, A Promised Land, February 4, 2021
Adopting a policy of “no enemies to the left,” Russian prime minister Alexander Kerensky freed Vladimir Lenin from jail shortly after he tried but failed to overthrow Kerensky’s government in July of 1917.
In November, Lenin succeeded.
An excellent essay by Slate’s Fred Kaplan draws parallels between Kerensky and most of today’s Republican leaders. Kerensky thought that his greatest threat was forces seeking to return czarist rule to his country. He accordingly sought to align with the very Marxists who soon toppled him.
As for our own situation, Kaplan explains:
“Republican leaders in America today have, in effect, declared a policy of ‘no enemies to the right.’ With very few exceptions, they have declined to impeach or even criticize Donald Trump for inciting the attempted insurrection of Jan. 6. They have awarded a House committee seat to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who believes in QAnon’s wildest conspiracy theories, who has told right-wing protesters they should feel free to use violence, and, before she was elected to the House this past fall, called for the assassination of Democratic leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Several GOP lawmakers still refuse to acknowledge that President Joe Biden fairly won the November election…”
“[They] embraced Trump and now refuse to dissociate themselves from his most fanatical followers because they were, and are, seen as potent bulwarks against the Democrats’ liberal programs, which they see as the real enemy.”
In Kaplan’s view, the upshot of this all is that the Republican Party will “likely lie tattered in shambles, regardless of which side prevails in its internecine battles.”
I’m not so sure. I can see Mitch McConnell, who has suddenly discovered a self-interested spine in pushing back against Trump and Greene, reverting to jellyfish mode if he decides the political tides again favor Trump. I hope that I’m wrong.
There’s another historical lesson here, obvious but ignored: If someone tries to destroy your democracy or government, don’t let them off easy.
That lesson clearly applies to Kerensky’s mistake in relying on Lenin…
And to the German establishment’s error in indulging and then releasing Hitler from incarceration just nine months after his failed 1923 “Beer Hall Putsch,” with the likely expectation that he was “tamed by prison” and “no longer to be feared”…
And to post-Civil War Republican leaders’ cynical calculation, which robbed Southern Blacks of democracy and rights for nearly a century as a result of the 1877 deal that installed Rutherford B. Hayes in the presidency in exchange for the Republicans ending Reconstruction in the South…
And, today, to many Republican leaders’ similarly cynical calculation, as they let off wackadoo Greene with just a quasi-tough talking-to and continue to back Trump, despite his incendiary broadsides that ignited the January 6 putsch at the Capitol.
For there’s a third historical lesson for those GOP kingpins who still kowtow to Trump: The revolution eats its own.
That was the case for the French Revolution’s leaders as they turned on and guillotined each other. Though it may serve their short-term interests, the Republican honchos who have enabled Trump and his increasingly fanatical followers for years could yet end up politically dead, should they continue to cave to those conspiracists.
Given what the GOP has become, it couldn’t happen to a nicer party.