Matt Gaetz Tells Iowa State Fair Crowd That Washington Can Be Changed 'Only Through Force'

AP Photo/Jason Behnken

Florida Republican Matt Gaetz set off a chain reaction of exploding heads on the left (that is figurative, not literal, as I don’t want to get flagged by Facebook or Community Noted by Twitter for spreading disinformation) with a comment he made at the Iowa State Fair. Standing near former President Trump, Gaetz said, “only through force do we make any change in a corrupt town like Washington, D.C.”

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Mr. President, I cannot stand these people that are destroying our country. They are opening our borders. They are weaponizing our federal law enforcement against patriotic Americans who love this nation as we should.

We are having a great time at the fair. We love standing with you. But we know that only through force do we make any change in a corrupt town like Washington, DC.

And so, to all my friends here in Iowa, when you see them come for this man there, know that they are coming for our movement, and they are coming for all of us. And as hard as you see him work, I need you working ten times harder, a hundred times harder. We’re going to win Iowa, we’re going to march to the nomination, and we’re going to save the greatest country…

As Gaetz spoke, Trump stood by silently and nodded.

First, let me say that I don’t think reasonable people can take Gaetz’s comments to support overthrowing the government. Suppose you are going to encourage a coup. In that case, you don’t do it in front of a crowd, and you don’t cap off the exhortation by encouraging people to work “ten times harder, a hundred times harder, we’re going to win Iowa, we’re going to run for the nomination.” Working hard and winning elections are not usually the call to arms for someone sending a mob to overthrow the government.

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I don’t think Gaetz’s sentiment, however unartfully worded it may have been, clearly refers to the battle we know that lies ahead should former President Trump emerge triumphant in 2024. As we saw in his last term, we can’t reasonably expect a federal bureaucracy dominated by progressives to meekly submit to a president determined to destroy some of their prerogatives and greatly limit their power. To prevail, a Republican president will have to use extraordinary administrative and legal steps to clean house at the Department of Justice, the Department of Defense, and every other federal agency.

Having said that, no one thinks we are dealing with reasonable people. We’re dealing with progressive Democrats in the service of a Marxist beast that is wounded, angry, and lashing out. That one sentence, stripped of all context, will be circulated a million times, and it will be tied to the fake January 6 insurrection narrative and the inevitable legal games to try to keep President Trump from running by claiming the 14th Amendment bars him from holding office.

A seven-second clip showing only the “by force” quote is already circulating. Just because you are firing up a partisan crowd doesn’t mean they are the only audience. We can’t afford this kind of unforced error in what will be a brutal slog of a campaign. Everyone speaking for the GOP or one of the candidates needs to do a lot better or sign on as Democrat consultants and write attack ads for them.

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