There are few things that rub me the wrong way more than pointless virtue signaling. Unfortunately, some in the GOP have made a career of it while accomplishing nothing of real value in the process. As has been demonstrated many times, the shallowness of Washington D.C. often rewards people more for what they say than what they do.
Today, a member of the Republican House decided to announce to the world that he’s leaving the GOP in a huff. Rep. Paul Mitchell put out a long-winded letter where he adjudicates the election results, chastises the party, and lets it be known that he simply can’t stand to be associated with Donald Trump any longer.
There will be predictable sneers, but Paul Mitchell is everything we should hope for in a House member. Honest, hardworking, both conservative and constructive, in it for the right reasons. He’s retiring so it may not seem consequential but we’re chasing off good people. https://t.co/dGrNEHq6cy
— Brendan Buck (@BrendanBuck) December 14, 2020
Note that Mitchell is retiring. He’s leaving office in three weeks no matter what. So what is even the point of announcing this? Why would Ronna McDaniel or the GOP care what party he claims as a private citizen? The answer is that they don’t care. In fact, most reading this have probably never even heard of Paul Mitchell. He’s hardly a consequential figure, yet doing this puts his name in the news for a cycle. I suppose that’s worth something to him in his next venture.
For my part, I don’t have much patience for this kind of drama. The President has the right to challenge whatever he wants in court. Judges can dismiss or take up cases, and they can decide for or against the person filing them. It’s as simple as that. Our electoral system is not in danger by letting the court system work, nor is this going to somehow destroy the country. This whiney letter by Mitchell represents the same type of melodramatic speak we’ve come to see at places like The Bulwark.
Here’s the other thing. Trump is not long for the office at this point. With the latest round of legal defeats and the electoral college voting for Joe Biden today, there is basically no path left. Given that, what exactly is Mitchell hoping to accomplish? Trump is about to be gone, at least insofar as holding the highest office in the land and having the influence that comes with that.
Mitchell also complains in his letter about Republicans not “speaking out” about Stop the Steal rallies. Yes, the latest rallies jumped the shark (nut job anti-Semite Nick Fuentes was allowed to speak, for example), but why is it that only Republican politicians are expected to waste their time condemning every random crazy person when it’s never demanded of Democrats to do the same? It’s not that Republicans agree with everything they don’t choose to speak out against. It’s that they simply grew tired of playing the media’s game long ago.
Mitchell would go on to bring up Charlottesville and call Trump a racist in the letter so as to really make sure he virtue signaled at a level high enough to receive the much desired media backslaps he so desperately desires. I’m sure he’ll be on CNN tomorrow to give us his further thoughts on the matter.
Look, if someone wants to leave the party and blow things out of proportion (no, the electoral system is not going to collapse), that’s their prerogative. That doesn’t mean we have to take them seriously. Besides, Mitchell isn’t doing anything brave here. He made this announcement knowing he had nothing to lose as he headed out the door anyway. This is all just teeth gnashing for the cameras.
(Please follow me on Twitter! @bonchieredstate)