From a television studio on Constitution Avenue, I looked down on the United States Capitol in the hours after a group of seditionists failed in their vile and shameful attempt to take over the building.
In watching the events of earlier that day, it became clear that despite their stated support for a Republican president, there was nothing Republican about these people whatsoever. The violent hooligans, some of whom would call themselves Republicans, are the real RINOs – Republicans in Name Only.
No genuine Republican who shares the values at the heart of our party would assault peace officers, break into a federal building, vandalize our most sacred symbols of democracy and “hunt for the Vice President,” all while carrying a Confederate battle flag. No, there’s nothing Republican or conservative about these vile people.
Most of them don’t identify with the Republican Party anyway. These are people who have nothing but disdain for the Republican Party, a party of conservative philosophy and ideas, which they attack endlessly. Wannabe authoritarians always despise political parties and leaders whose first loyalty is to principles and philosophy rather than to their favorite political leader. Their scorn is a badge of honor.
Of course, social media being the disinformation machine that it has become, was filled with bizarre theories that the rioters and insurrectionists were really Antifa agitators in disguise. But this is nonsense – plenty of those who participated in the day’s violent events posted content on social media in real time, while others gave media interviews. The blood of the five Americans who lost their lives is on their hands.
Genuine Republicans and conservatives should feel no need to excuse, explain, rationalize, or conjure up alternate explanations for the actions of the rioters and terrorists who attacked and desecrated our Capitol building. (Before taking exception to my use of the word terrorist, I would refer to the photograph of one of the seditionists who brought a good number of ziptie handcuffs to the insurrection to bind hostages. Multiple reports indicate some of the terrorists were actively hunting for the Vice President and Speaker of the House, 1-2 in the presidential line of succession.) We have nothing in common with these people, and they deserve our scorn and disdain, not allegiance or sympathy. They are neither Republicans nor conservatives for their actions embody only the polar opposite of Republicanism and conservatism. Each of them must be made to feel the full force of law and pay the most severe penalties for their crimes against our democracy.
May God give comfort to the families of those five men and women whose lives were needlessly lost, including that of the Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick, age 42, hit in the head with a fire extinguisher, who lost his life in the line of duty. And may our country never again experience a repeat of the disgraceful events of January 6, 2021.
Ron Nehring served as Chairman of the California Republican Party, Chairman of the Republican Party of San Diego County, and presidential campaign spokesman for Sen. Ted Cruz (R).