The Republican Party holds itself as the champions of law enforcement. They campaign on slogans of “Back the Blue.” They hold rallies flying the “Thin Blue Line” flag. They purport to celebrate the cops who shield the nation from violence and anarchy.
But when it came time to show up in the halls of Congress for a remembrance of the sacrifices Capitol and Metropolitan Police made defending our democracy from violence last Jan. 6, Republicans lawmakers didn’t bother to show up. Only one sitting Republican officeholder showed up, Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney. She was accompanied by her father Dick, the former vice president.
On that dark day one year ago, the “Thin Blue Line” was not a metaphor. Police put their bodies and lives in harm’s way, attempting to blockade the joint session of Congress from the violent mob of Trump supporters who sought to stop the peaceful transfer of power after a lawful election. These cops were beaten, tased, tear gassed, dragged down steps, and crushed in doorways. More than 140 were injured in the insurrection, and five officer deaths (including subsequent suicides) have been linked to the violence and trauma of Jan. 6.
“I want to acknowledge our fallen heroes of that day,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi, leading a House session marking the anniversary of the attack. “Now I ask all members to rise in a moment of silence in their memory.”
As the officials rose, the visual of a nearly empty GOP side of the aisle was chilling, as Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut noted on Twitter:
At the moment of silence for the Capitol Police officers who died, there were only two Republicans who showed up.
Rep. Lynn Cheney. And her father. The 80 year old former Vice President.
An extraordinary image of where this country’s politics are right now. pic.twitter.com/IJ2YS2y2yN
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) January 6, 2022
Speaking to reporters at the Capitol, the former vice president said he attended the House session to mark “an important historical event.” Cheney elaborated that he was “deeply disappointed we don’t have better leadership in the Republican Party to restore the Constitution.” The swipe at Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell and House minority leader Kevin McCarthy — who could not be bothered to attend the remembrance, and who have done little to combat Trump’s destructive and ongoing lies about the 2020 election — was unmistakable.
Rep. Cheney’s attendance was not surprising. She is the top Republican on the bipartisan congressional committee investigating the events of Jan. 6, and has been consistent and unabashed in her criticism of Donald Trump, blaming him directly for the violence at the Capitol. Cheney has been treated as a pariah by Trump — who has called her a “bitter, horrible human being” — and was ousted from GOP House leadership earlier this year for refusing to kowtow to the Dear Leader.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, the other Republican on the Jan. 6 committee, is expecting the birth of a child and could not attend. “”Wish I could be there too, but I’m on baby watch,” he tweeted. “I am in spirit.”