Republicans, don’t you want to be free?

Dear Republicans:

This is what a free woman looks like.

Leonard Pitts Jr. / McClatchy Journals

I mean, of course, Cassidy Hutchinson, a young former White House aide to Donald Trump, who appeared before the House committee investigating the January 6 coup attempt. Free from the need to defend the indefensible or rationalize the irrational – free, in other words, from Trump – she simply recounted what she had seen and heard before and as rioters stormed the seat of the US government. Hutchinson was a poised and effective witness, and his testimony painted damning and indelible images.

Like the ketchup dripping from the wall of the Oval Office dining room, the china plate lying shattered on the floor, following a presidential tantrum.

Like Trump angrily demanding the removal of “effective” magnetometers put in place to keep armed people out of his pre-riot rally on the Ellipse. (“I don’t care if they have guns. They’re not here to hurt me.”)

Like Trump physically assaulting the head of his Secret Service – there are reports the agent disputes this – when they refused to transport him to the chaos of the Capitol.

Like Hutchinson’s boss, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, scrolling passively on his cellphone as Hutchinson and others brought increasingly urgent bulletins of barricades breached and windows smashed.

Does it even have to be said that Donald Trump posted statements on this jackleg social media site claiming that none of this happened, saying he barely knows who Hutchinson is, calling her a “whacko”?

Unfortunately for Trump, she didn’t seem “wacko” in the least. She just seemed free.

Republicans, wouldn’t you like to be free? How many years have passed since each of you was your own man or woman, free from the burden of lies, alibis and pretending not to see?

This is of course the opportune time to talk about freedom. Between barbecues and fireworks, we celebrate our founders, who declared themselves free from Britain 246 years ago. Which is not to say that the men who signed our Declaration of Independence were perfect. Far from there. Most, after all, were dealers in human flesh. But give them this: they had the courage of their convictions. They had the courage to be free, even though they knew the cost could be ruinous.

By answering the call of their conscience by putting their signatures to this groundbreaking document, men like Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Richard Stockton have endangered their personal freedom, their livelihoods and their lives. Now the conscience is calling again. Indeed, the conscience screams. Yet so many of you, even at this late date, are responding with silence. Because to do otherwise – to do the right thing – is to drive Trump crazy, and God knows you don’t want that.

But when you consider what the founding generation stood to lose serving this country and what they did anyway, then compare that to what you stand to lose and what you did, well, let’s say simply that the portrait of you that emerges is not flattering.

Wouldn’t you like to be free?

As Hutchinson’s testimony vividly, if redundantly, showed, you are led by a monstrous, unstable child. How can you be more loyal to him than to your country? Or to yourself? By signing this revolutionary document, these men declared themselves independent – free – from the tyranny of a selfish and oppressive king.

Why wouldn’t you do the same?

Contact Leonard Pitts Jr. at [email protected]

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