Rep. Kevin McCarthy: A failure of leadership in the Central Valley
Proposed Editorial Note: A version of this piece was originally published in The Bakersfield Californian on January 8, 2021, two days after the insurrection on the Capitol in Washington, D.C. It has since been updated.
By Randy Villegas
On January 6, 2021, domestic terrorists descended upon our nation’s Capitol to protest a free and fair election in the United States, under the orders and encouragement of a failed president. A president who lost the popular vote twice, lost the House in 2018, lost the Electoral College in 2020, lost the Senate a few days ago and lost all of his challenges in the courts in his attempt to overturn the election results. With those avenues exhausted, in desperation, Trump went a step further by personally calling on Georgia’s elections officials to “find” and “recalculate” votes, on a recorded audio tape that puts Nixon’s Watergate tapes to shame. In a final failed stand, Trump incited violence as he called on his supporters to take to the Capitol.
Yet what we saw on our screens is not solely the work of (former President) Donald Trump. It is the work of every elected official in the Republican Party who, for the past four years, have endorsed lies, conspiracy theories, bigotry, racism, attacks on the media and the denial of election results that were not even close. President-elect Joe
Biden won by more than 7 million in the popular vote and won 306 Electoral College votes (something Trump called a “landslide” back in 2016).
This insurrection is the result of individuals like Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who have put their loyalty to Trump before their loyalty to their country. McCarthy has enabled the president since day one, as he was more focused on spoon-feeding him hand-picked Starbursts rather than holding him accountable to the Constitution and his
duties. Perhaps McCarthy was more preoccupied with his failed attempt to become majority leader. After acknowledging Trump’s culpability for inciting the insurrection, McCarthy met with the former President in late January and since has supported the Big Lie of election fraud and minimized the gravity of the insurrection. Yet it is not only
McCarthy but other Central Valley representatives who have fanned the flames of lies and deceit as well.
It is the enabling falsehoods and lies of California Senate Minority Leader Shannon Grove, who publicly claimed that Trump won the election with no evidence. In the midst of this violence, Grove tweeted and then deleted an image where she alleged “Antifa” was responsible for the violence. However, as Sunrise Kern and others had blatantly
pointed out, she had retweeted a photo of a well-known white supremacist and self-proclaimed neo-Nazi.
As these terrorists waved Trump, Confederate and Thin Blue Line flags, they used these same flags to beat and attack Capitol police officers they so claim to have respected. Members of Congress, their staff and families locked in the Capitol feared for their lives. Shots fired as these terrorists continued to break down Capitol doors, windows and chambers. Only hours later would the National Guard be deployed on his supporters, who would not have been there in the first place without his lies, and the encouragement of every elected official who enabled him. Hours into this attempted coup, both Trump and McCarthy tweeted, urging peace and support for Capitol police.
Far too little, far too late. Trump fanned the flames for these terrorists as he re-iterated through video that the election was supposedly fraudulent. At the end of the day, four people died, including one woman who was shot, and multiple officers were injured, along with the Capitol being looted and vandalized.
The blood spilled, the carnage and destruction are on the hands of McCarthy, Grove, Devin Nunes and any Republican who enabled Trump and endorsed a blatant lie to undermine our country and democracy. This was a moment of humiliation and shame for our country as the rest of the world watches on. These valley representatives have
failed our region and our constitutional republic. We the People deserve officials who are loyal to our country, and not a demagogue.
In spite of all the events that unfolded, McCarthy and others voted to object the election results. Representing the most Republican-leaning district in California, there is a chance that “duck and hide” McCarthy may be more vulnerable after redistricting occurs in November. Since the attacks at the capitol, McCarthy has continued to illustrate his loyalty to Trump rather than the American people. Most recently McCarthy met with former President Trump in New Jersey to plan ways to subvert the work of the Select Committee on the Capitol Insurrection established by Speaker Pelosi.
It has been over a decade since McCarthy has held a live town hall. At this point, it appears McCarthy has met more times with the former president then with his own constituents. It is important to remember that in the midst of a global pandemic, McCarthy missed the vote on $2,000 checks for the American people because of ‘elbow surgery’. It seems that McCarthy may have forgotten to schedule surgery to replace the spine he has been missing for quite some time.
We deserve leaders who are not in pursuit of power for their personal gain and self-
interest but pursue politics for the people and the common good.
A Kern County Native, Randy Villegas is a professor of Political Science, a Ph.D. candidate and a delegate for the California State Democratic Party. The views reflected are his own.