The horrific threat that no one is talking about
On May 24, 2001, Republican Senator Jim Jeffords (R-VT) switched from the GOP to independent and announced he would caucus with the Democrats. At the time the Senate was a 50-50 tie with Republicans controlling it due to Vice President Dick Cheney’s tie-breaking vote. The move shook Washington’s foundations as Jeffords, in effect, handed over the Senate to the Democrats.
This Senate will again be a 50-50 split with the Democrats controlling due to Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote. In such a split, as we saw before in 2001, every Senator matters. My fear is that in the volatile political climate with angry dead-ender Trump cultists, one of these maniacs will kill a Democratic Senator in a red state so a Republican governor can replace him/her and thus, hand the Senate to the Republicans. This is the huge threat staring us in the face that no one seems to be talking about.
Looking at the Senate, I’m most concerned about Arizona senators Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema. These Democrats are in a state with a Republican governor, Doug Ducey. True, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is from West Virginia, a state with a Republican governor. But conservatives like Manchin. I look at the center-right Democrat to be wined and dined and wooed to switch parties but doubt he’d be a target of assassination.
No, I’m looking at Arizona because Ducey has appointed someone to the Senate before. In 2018, he appointed Martha McSally to the seat originally vacated by the death of Sen. John McCain.
Also, Arizona is an open carry state so assassins will have no problem getting weapons near one of the Senators when they’re in state. Arizona also was the site of the 2011 shooting that wounded Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ), killed six others and wounded nearly a dozen more. Ironically, Giffords’ husband, Mark Kelly, is now one of the vulnerable Democratic Senators from Arizona. There’s a history of political violence. Arizona is also a hotbed of militia activity.
Of course, the two brand new senators from Georgia, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, hail from a traditionally red state with a Republican governor. Being a black and a Jew respectively, one could say they’re tailor-made victims for a violent white supremacist militia. And, of course, in this scenario, they’re at considerable risk. However, I think because of the attention the Georgia senatorial race garnered they’ll probably have adequate security. One can hope, at least.
All Democrats need to be on notice.
With the Democrats having a razor thin margin and the base pushing for a strong progressive agenda, killing the filibuster and passing a new stimulus, health care reform, climate change legislation, and possibly expanding the Supreme Court will seriously raise the hackles of the right wing fascist militias in this country. And one bullet fired in anger could change everything.
Perhaps I’m overreacting. But years before Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died, I wrote several columns for iPinion warning that if there ever was an opening on the Supreme Court to change the balance of power in a progressive direction the Republicans would never let Obama fill that seat. I wrote about how important it was for the Democrats to hold the Senate for fear Republicans would do something unprecedented. And it happened just as I laid it out.
Now I’m not Nostradamus. I just don’t put anything past the Republican Party and the cult of Donald Trump. When Jeffords handed control of the Senate to Democrats he received many death threats, which he and his staff took very seriously. Political violence like the assassinations of JFK, RFK and Martin Luther King, the attempted assassination of Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan took place over a volatile eighteen year period in American politics. It also saw the attempted assassination of George Wallace and the murders of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, Supervisor Harvey Milk and the People’s Temple’s assassination of Congressman Leo Ryan (D-CA). Political violence was very real.
We’re living at a time where public anger is off the charts and gun sales have spiked.
Senators don’t have Secret Service protection. Only the top nine Congressional officials in leadership have Capitol Police security details. Democrats have to take security seriously because there is a very real possibility that a Democratic Senator will be murdered for political reasons this year. Mitch McConnell would love to step back into the Senate Majority Leader role and kill the Biden agenda.
Democrats would do well to persuade Republicans like Lisa Murkowski or Susan Collins to become independents and caucus with the Democrats. Padding the Democrats’ margin should take this tragic, horrific assassination plan off the table.
Or Democrats could quickly move to make Washington DC a state and garner two more Senators.
With all eyes on January 17th and the inauguration, I don’t think that’s the real play here. Insurrectionists would be stupid to attack when the nation is on high alert. That’s not what terrorists organizations do. They wait until the security posture relaxes so we don’t see it coming.
And to reap a huge political reward, killing a Senator and tipping the balance of power in the Senate and killing the Democrats’ agenda is the most obvious and dangerous play. We can’t be victims of a failure of imagination. And no, mentioning this won’t give domestic terrorists ideas. Terrorists have plenty of imagination and time to sit and plot. We need to be alert. We need security.
Our republic is under assault and we have to take this threat seriously.