Last week, VoxFairfax posed the question ”What Are Republicans For?” The query was not original to our blog but had been cast by President Biden at his marathon presser last month. There were no identifiable media or internet reports of any Republicans or GOP officials taking the bait with the exception of Mitch McConnell, who said, simply, “We’ll let you know when we’re in charge.” Notwithstanding, a few incidents have received some ink and may be data points in accumulating a collective answer to the question.
On January 5, a group called the Northern Neck Patriots, affiliated with the Tea Party and self-characterized as “governed by the Lord first,” attended a meeting of the Northern Neck Regional Jail (NNRJ) located in Warsaw in Richmond County. The Northern Neck is a peninsula-shaped area bounded by the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers. The visitors were motivated by concerns for inmates in detention due to their connection with the January 6 assault on the Capitol as described in a local newspaper report: https://www.newsontheneck.com/news/northern-neck-patriots-vow-to-hold-nnrj-accountable/article_1523a64c-8471-11ec-be93-438724bd9bfe.html.
Members of the Patriots referred to the inmates as J6ers, which suggests a special status compared with the general population in the prison, and their concern that J6ers were intermingled with other inmates. The concern was expressed in blunt terms as reported: “Going forward we want everything to be fair for these people and for them to be safe from the prison community as well as people like yourselves,” said a Patriot to the members of the jail board and administration. NNRJ officials and staff offered assurances that every inmate at the facility was fairly treated, adding in equally blunt language that “most of these people wouldn’t know the difference between a Republican, a Democrat, a Communist or whatever. To think they’re going to try to take some kind of revenge—most of them probably wouldn’t even understand any more than vaguely something that happened on January 6.”
Although the Patriots said their concerns were motivated by reports of ill treatment of J6ers at the DC jail, on January 30, the former president declared at a Houston rally that those under investigation and punished for participating in the January 6 assault were treated “very unfairly” and, if elected, he would pardon them.
On January 21, Kimberly Lowe, a GOP congressional candidate challenging Morgan Griffith (VA-09), appeared in Mission, Texas, at the National Butterfly Center, demanding access to the property to witness and record human smuggling, child sex trafficking, and illegal immigration.
Nine days earlier, on January 21, Kimberly Lowe, a GOP congressional candidate challenging Morgan Griffith (VA-09), appeared in Mission, Texas, at the National Butterfly Center, demanding access to the property to witness and record human smuggling, child sex trafficking, and illegal immigration.
The alleged illegal activities, especially the child sex trafficking, have plagued the Butterfly center since 2019 when it filed a lawsuit to stop the building of the Great Wall of Mexico across protected lands. The sanctuary became the target of Steve Bannon and his colleagues, who orchestrated the We Build the Wall campaign for which Bannon was later indicted for defrauding contributors. The former president pardoned Bannon before leaving office.
Due to the barrage of right-wing attacks and fear for the safety of personnel, the Center has closed off accessibility for the near future. Lowe has not offered any reasons for her visit to Mission. By admission, her visit was not prompted by interest in nature or butterflies. Even wild speculation has not emerged to form a connection between Virginia and Texas, much less a personal venture by a congressional candidate. It has been reported that Texas was the largest source of outside funding for Glenn Youngkin’s successful gubernatorial campaign. Such would be at best a narrow path for both Lowe and the former president. In the end, we must all be thankful that there have been no reports of trauma to the butterflies or accusations of illegal immigration or migration.
Biden’s rhetorical question likely cannot be satisfied in a single sentence and may not be timely addressed by a campaign platform from the NRC for 2024. Thus, it may be that voters will be forced to rely upon incidents of this type to formulate an answer, at least an impression, to test the prime question.