Have you seen this flag? Perhaps it’s on your car as a sticker or auto tag.
Originating in the Revolutionary War era, the flag and its accompanying statement have become a strong symbol of American patriotism. The snake on the flag “was something of a Colonial-era meme,” The New Yorker tells us, which reassembled the disjointed snake in Benjamin Franklin’s “Join or Die” political cartoon to depict a “righteous threat to trampling imperialism.”
We would do well to cling to the sentiment on this flag as we watch the race for Speaker of the House, because whether or not U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) wins, the race for Speaker has revealed a more significant issue: there are too many bullies in D.C.
A bully is someone who victimizes others through “intimidation, threats, insults, intentional exclusion, [and] spreading rumors and lies,” Verywellmind explains. “A bully's end goal is to humiliate or harm other individuals with the intent of ruining their reputation or harming their self-worth.”
Doesn’t that seem to describe the bullies in D.C.? The D.C. bullies believe they’re entitled to what’s yours, including the freedom to dissent. Rather than engage in vociferous debate, which is what confident leaders do, these bullies are busy fighting 20 daring dissenters, smearing them at every turn rather than fighting for the American people by stomping out threats such as open borders and massive spending bills.
But are Alabama leaders using those tactics? Unfortunately, yes.
Alabama’s Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks) is McCarthy’s body man. Rogers functioned as an enforcer for McCarthy’s cause on Tuesday, threatening Republican dissidents' removal from committees if they failed to support McCarthy. He later referred to dissidents as “legislative terrorists.”
Alabama Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) is more reasonable. Although he voted for McCarthy in all ballots at the time of this writing, he remains sympathetic to the dissenters refusing to support McCarthy, suggesting that McCarthy may need to "step back" and nominate someone else if he can't get the votes.
But here's the real question: Why haven't these leaders, the rest of the roughly 200 Republicans in the House, ever fought for us as the 20 dissenters are currently doing? Why don’t we see more of this? Journalist Mollie Hemingway made a similar point on a Fox news show, noting that this debate is actually a good thing and “just democracy in action.”
The debate in progress isn’t embarrassing, but the bullying of dissenters is, and has been going on for a long time. Does anyone else remember that several House members, especially the ones who've been around a while, told us to eat or wear it regarding Mitt Romney and John McCain? Remember when they repeatedly told us to get happy about things we disagreed with? Given this track record, one wonders why they are allowed to pretend their position on the Speaker’s race is the only noble one.
One more thing: Why act like the 20 dissenters are silly rubes in their admittedly inconvenient stand for change? If not now, when? As Fox News contributor Jimmy Failla said on Twitter, "Failing to pick a leader in 2 days is not embarrassing. Spiking inflation to a 40 year high is embarrassing. Opening the border is embarrassing. Fleeing Afghanistan is embarrassing. Forcing (non-working) vaccines on people is embarrassing. Take your time, GOP. Take your time."
Regardless of who's elected Speaker, there are a few things we need to remember. The first is that bullies are alive and well, and they seek to take from you the freedom to dissent. The second is to understand that it's the weak who bully, not the strong. It's the soft who smear, not the confident. It's the weak who can't see over their egos long enough to consider another position.
Instead, we'd do well to remember from whence we came. We'd do well to remember that we were once united against tyranny. And we must unite against it again.
Even when it's coming from some of the people we elected.
Amie Beth Shaver is a speaker, writer and media commentator. Her column appears every Wednesday in 1819 News. Shaver served on the Alabama GOP State Executive Committee, was a candidate for State House District 43 and spokeswoman for Allied Women.
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819News.com.