From the parallel world in which they operate, Republicans’ audacity has reached a superlative level. This time, the Republican senator from South Carolina and main cheerleader for Donald Trump, Lindsey Graham, declared on Fox News that if the former president was indicted for the mess about the classified documents that he misappropriated, to who knows what end, “there will literally be riots in the street.”
Loyal to Trumpism and to the idea that no matter what Trump does, even something illegal, there will never be any consequences, Graham’s comment was a warning to the Department of Justice. Basically it is as if he is saying, if the institution has the evidence necessary to charge Trump, it should decline to do so because Trumpists will respond to the violent message the only way they know how: with violence. They demonstrated this to the world on January 6, 2021 during the assault on the federal Capitol building; moreover, other Trump fanatics have even perpetrated massacres motivated by the racial prejudice and anti-immigrant sentiment that are already an intrinsic part of Republicans’ political and electoral strategies.
Graham’s statement, on top of being politically rash and irresponsible, sends a very clear message to the followers of the former President, who surely lie in wait, yet again, for the signal to attack in order to exhibit the putrefaction that every racist has inside, not caring about the damage it does to a nation that has seen real and authentic battles in its history that made it evolve.
The most recent proof of this xenophobic attitude that has permeated in diverse social sectors, especially in majority-Republican states, that we have been able to witness—not without a certain nausea—is this sultry episode in Dallas two weeks ago by a white woman who self-identified as “Mexican-American” and physically and verbally attacked a group of women with Indian accents. It was easy to decipher, through the language used by this woman, the essence of the rhetoric that has come back into use by different Republican candidates’ campaigns, all of them anti-immigrant, rude, and exclusionary.
Basically, Graham neither condemned Trump’s actions, nor the potential violence he is predicting; but he issued a veiled threat to the Justice Department, for just doing their job and, so that in case there is sufficient evidence to charge Trump, the institution declines to do so because, for Republicans, this man is above the law.
It’s true that the Justice Department is confronting a politically complex and sensitive situation, but it’s chilling that a U.S. senator would use the threat of “riots” to hinder an ongoing investigation and that he would do so on Fox News, talking directly to Trump’s followers who are always ready to do anything for their leader.
This cult of personality toward someone who breaks that law speaks a lot—and badly—about that part of U.S. society that never realized that their country has changed for good, and that there is another part of the nation that will not allow the United States to go backwards. They also haven’t realized that the Republican discourse is already an anachronism and is running up against the demographic composition of a diverse collective from this very century that is opening to inclusion, despite everything.
But now it turns out that Republicans have already moved from extremist rhetoric to extremist actions. And if we’re talking about power, it seems that neither the lies nor the consequences that their rhetoric could cause matter. The El Paso massacre in 2019, for example, was perpetrated by an individual who thought that we were being “invaded” by immigrants at the southern border. But neither the deaths in El Paso nor in other cities have kept the Republicans from lending credence to falsehoods in their campaigns. How many violent acts are to come, due to their political irresponsibility?
They should, at any rate, find a more civilized way to achieve power. But owing to the increasing hatred they show toward their own country, it would be asking a lot for them to change their attitudes.
The implications of Graham’s statements are also chilling, because if Trump ends up unscathed and his dominance of the Republican Party prevails, who knows what they will be capable of, if the former leader’s plan to seek the presidential nomination in 2024 goes forward.
Maribel Hastings es asesora ejecutiva de America’s Voice y David Torres es asesor de medios en español de America’s Voice.