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Republican leaders, their feet mired in Trumpism’s quicksand, have become incapacitated. They stand in a stagnant swamp that is essentially of their own making, unable to direct well-deserved outrage at events that threaten our democracy. Instead, they aim darts at imaginary “attacks on freedom,” such as mandates for vaccines and masks.

I bear no ill will toward these immobilized politicians. Rather, I mourn their depleted store of outrage as we suffer a former president who, for the sake of his fragile ego, would turn America into an authoritarian dictatorship. Historians will write about how the leaders of a party that once swelled with patriotism were, thus, reduced to less than nothing, just when courageous action could have mattered most.

When Donald Trump continues to grouse that the election was stolen from him, why do we hear no sharp correctives from West Virginia Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito or GOP Reps. Carol Miller, David McKinley and Alex Mooney? They know a Big Lie when they hear one, but they wilt at the thought of speaking five words of truth: “The election was not stolen.”

Our Republican road warrior, Gov. Jim Justice, expresses outrage, but often trains his sights on the wrong targets. He recently went “Real Housewives of New Jersey” on the city of Charleston and its mayor, Amy Shuler Goodwin. Her “sin” was that she possessed the perspicacity to request a special legislative session to deal with the state’s issues of homelessness, substance abuse and mental health. His response began badly, then skidded into the 1950s when he called the mayor “baby.” Sadly, his thin-skinned touchiness drew scarcely a peep of rebuke from the lips of our state’s GOP lawmakers.

But perhaps I am being overly harsh. Fallible human that I am, I might be wrong about the governor. Perhaps he may one day sing Hosannas to Charleston if he should get to better know the city by visiting it more often.

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Where is Republican outrage at former Trump aides who have spat in the face of subpoenas issued by the House Select Committee that is investigating the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol? If the recalcitrant four are convinced that the Jan. 6 attackers were antifa or used no weapons or weren’t violent, why do they not come willingly before the House committee and say so?

In the meantime, we mostly hear loud silence, rather than disgust, from Republican lawmakers who themselves were under siege by the radicalized domestic terrorists on that January day.

Perhaps Georgia Republican Rep. Marjory Taylor Greene’s colleagues express no outrage at her excesses because they think it impolite to openly chastise anyone with discernible mental health issues. Greene, ranting incoherently about mask mandates for students, recently went full Joseph McCarthy (if McCarthy had been on a bad acid trip). She fumed, “This is child abuse ... . [Students] are being taught communist propaganda, being told to wear a mask ... . I’m talking about communism ... . They are destroying our country with their communist policies and beliefs.”

Evidently, in Greene land, commies believe that the lynchpin to their revolution is requiring second-graders to wear masks to protect them from a deadly virus.

Republican leaders, including our state’s own, observe the nation and its Constitution increasingly brutalized as, for example, one state law after another is enacted to undermine our freedom to vote. Yet, the best of them seem content to remain spectators. They are stuck, directionless in the dark woods of Trumpism. Thus, Republicans edge toward petrification, stripped of the purifying grace of expressing outrage at what is outrageous.

Joseph Wyatt is a Gazette-Mail contributing columnist and emeritus professor at Marshall University. Reach him at wyatt

@marshall.edu.

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