Having seemingly lost their enthusiasm for defending Donald Trump and disputing the results of the 2020 presidential election, Republicans at the federal and state level have turned to grumbling loudly about the security measures that have been put into place in our state and federal capitals, both to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to stop domestic terrorists from hurting and killing people.
In addition to requiring the wearing of masks and practicing physical distancing, Democrats at the federal level have introduced new security measures, including screenings for weapons and dangerous objects outside of the entrance to the House chamber. Thousands of National Guard troops are now stationed in and around the Capitol, as well, to ensure the building cannot be successfully attacked and ransacked again, and a new fence surrounds the Capitol.
So far, Republicans seem the most upset about the security screenings.
“For members of Congress to enter the floor of the U.S. House, we now have to go through intense security measures, on top of the security we already go through. These new provisions include searches and being wanded like criminals. We now live in Pelosi’s communist America!” howled Representative Debbie Lasko.
What’s the problem, Representative Lasko? if you haven’t done anything wrong, then you have absolutely nothing to worry about… right? After all, that’s what Republicans like you have been telling the rest of us for years!
“You are creating a problem you do not understand the ramifications of,” snarled a very upset Representative Steve Womack to Capitol Police when he entered the House chamber earlier this week.
Actually, Representative Womack, that’s a perfect description of what you and your colleagues have been doing. By continually enabling Donald Trump and his insurrectionist followers, you set the stage for all the changes that are now happening in our seat of government, including these more stringent security screenings outside the House chamber that annoy you to no end.
So much for “Law and Order!” and respecting law enforcement.
Once again, Republicans have proven that they are wholly unwilling to accept the rules and standards that they want to impose on everybody else.
Every time I enter a courthouse (local, state, federal), I go through a metal detector and send my belongings through an x‑ray machine. And often get wanded.
I wish it weren’t necessary, but I understand the wisdom of ensuring that people don’t bring guns or other weapons into courtrooms.
Why should the Capitol be any different, especially given the horror of last week? And why should members of Congress be treated any differently than anyone else coming to the Capitol? As any security expert knows, an institution is only as strong as its weakest link. A traitorous lawmaker allowed to bypass security screenings could easily cause mayhem. Disturbingly, many of the Republicans sent by voters to Congress are Trump cult members who are more loyal to him than the Constitution, as today’s impeachment vote once again proved.
If the goal is “Law and Order!”, then making sure that only trusted, trained police officers are carrying guns in the Capitol seems like an extremely prudent idea.
Here at the state level, Republicans have complained bitterly that parts of the Capitol Campus are off limits to the public and surrounded by a chain-link fence with yellow caution tape, patrolled by the Washington National Guard.
They keep asking, rhetorically, why people can’t be allowed inside the Capitol to watch their government at work. But they know why: it’s not safe.
The Washington Capitol Campus is more than just the Evergreen State’s seat of government. Like the U.S. Capitol, it’s also a workplace. Republicans may feel comfortable putting their lives at risk by ignoring public health guidance and recommendations from security experts in the wake of the Capitol attack, but they cannot be allowed to put others’ lives at risk with their absurd demands.
The argument that the temporary closure of some of our public buildings is a tragic forfeiture of our God-given liberties is ridiculous. These building restrictions have not caused people to lose their constitutional rights. For example, it’s still possible to protest, even on the Capitol campus, as unwise as that may be.
Given the Republican Party’s legacy, it’s odd they’re so bent out of shape about these building closures. Recall, for a few moments, all of the measures they have previously insisted on and defended as necessary to wage a “War on Terror”.
Remember the Boston Marathon bombings? In the wake of those horrible events, the authorities effectively shut down an entire city for several days while they hunted down the perpetrators. I don’t remember hearing any complaints from Republicans about that. Indefensibly, many Republicans simply do not regard white Christian terrorists as a threat like they do Islamic terrorists, even though white Christian terrorists are the bigger threat according to security assessments.
Happily, this isn’t 1921. It is not necessary to be physically present to observe one’s government at work firsthand. Even before the pandemic and the recent rise in domestic terrorist activity (including not only the attack on the Capitol, but the breaching of the gates to the Executive Mansion grounds in Olympia), watching committee meetings and floor activity on TVW was a more advantageous way to monitor the goings-on in the statehouse than observing in person.
It’s so advantageous, in fact, that people who work on the Capitol Campus, including reporters and legislative assistants, use it extensively, despite being in close physical proximity to the rooms where the broadcasts are originating.
Why leave the office when TVW can bring the action to you?
That said, we agree that it is valuable for people to be able to visit the seat of their government and walk the same halls their elected representatives walk. Visiting the state capitol and the U.S. Capitol is an experience everyone ought to have. Accordingly, we fully support the restoration of physical public access to these sacred buildings when it is safe. Unfortunately, right now, it isn’t.
You might think members of a party that fervently brandishes the phrase “Law and Order!” as a rallying cry would understand this, but sadly, you’d be wrong.