Last week, when Jim Jordan fell short of the necessary votes to become House Speaker despite Donald Trump’s strong-arm endorsement, Jordan and his allies unleashed an intimidation campaign.
They rallied supporters to target moderate members hesitant to back Jordan for Speaker, robocalling and posting their names and office phone numbers on social media. Fox News anchor Sean Hannity gave an assist, and sent a personal email to Republican holdouts, basically accusing them of putting national security at risk by not backing Jordan. (Fox News, after paying nearly $1billion in damages for 2020 election falsehoods, seems not to have learned from the experience.)
Public bullying is a Trump-perfected tactic. MAGA operatives target politicians and government officials deemed errant or insufficiently loyal, threaten to primary them or otherwise end their careers, attack them relentlessly on social media, and sometimes make veiled (or not) threats against their families and personal safety.
The bullying finally backfired
Mainstream Republicans who voted “no” on Jordan’s speakership said they were irrevocably opposed to his candidacy, many turned off by MAGA’s pressure campaign. Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.) said his staff had been “cussed out, they’ve been threatened. It’s been nonstop … it’s obvious what the strategy is: attack, attack, attack.”
Other Republicans, similarly chafed, pushed back. “Intimidation and threats will not change my position” (Granger, R-Tex.); “threats and intimidation tactics will not change my principles and values” (Kiggans, R-Va.); “I don’t really take well to threats” (Gimenez, R-Fla.). Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa) called out “credible death threats and a barrage of threatening calls” she received after voting no.
Judging from the two subsequent votes, worse for Jordan than the first, the bullying backfired.
Could it be that the GOP has finally found the testicular fortitude to push back against MAGA bullying? And if they have finally grown a set, will they admit they knew Trump was lying about the 2020 election all along, but were too intimidated to speak up?
Only extremists would put an insurrectionist who has never passed a bill so close to the presidency
Unethical bullying and contempt for governance aside, voters of all stripes should recognize that MAGA was/is seeking to install, as second in line to the presidency, the Congressman most involved with the former president’s efforts to overthrow the 2020 election.
Facing 92 criminal indictments in four different jurisdictions (witch hunts all), Trump would benefit greatly from a Speaker Jordan. Who better to insulate Trump from the law than a far-right reactionary who supported Trump’s J6 efforts to block the transfer of power, disregarded a Congressional subpoena about it, and advocates dismantling the federal government and the DOJ?
Jordan, elected in 2006, has never passed a bill. He seeks to cut military assistance for Ukraine, and supports a nationwide abortion ban, even in cases of rape and incest. He recently voted to shut down the government rather than cooperate on a bipartisan budget. He presents false equivalencies between Trump’s many criminal acts and Biden’s unspecified acts, pressing the Biden impeachment farce simply to negate the severity of Trump’s impeachments.
Perhaps most repugnant of all, Jordan seems unconcerned with the optics of trying so hard to please Trump. How could such an emasculated shill ever lead?
And then there’s the sexual abuse cover-up
Aside from Jordan’s bullying and contempt for actual governance, where is the public outcry over many allegations that Jordan dismissed student complaints about sexual abuse during his coaching years? Are Moms for Liberty too busy banning books about hermaphrodite reptiles to object to actual pedophiles?
According to Business Insider, after a former college wrestler accused a former Ohio State University physician of sexual misconduct, the University conducted an investigation, and found in 2019 that the physician had sexually abused at least 177 male students at the school, 48 of them on the school’s wrestling team, from 1978 to 1998. Jordan was the assistant wrestling coach over the same male student teammates for eight years, from 1986 to 1994. Several former wrestlers have said they directly told Jordan about the sexual abuse, while investigators agreed that university staff “had knowledge” of the sexual abuse as early as 1979 but did nothing.
Maybe the backlash will finally take
That either Trump or Jordan still hold public influence after J6 is a stinging indictment of public education. Too few Americans understand fascism’s role in world history, the scale of human suffering it delivers, and how fascism becomes unstoppable once momentum crosses a certain threshold. Unable to see the danger behind the circus, MAGA is still enjoying the shiny spectacle.
For now, by standing up to Jordan’s bullying tactics, some GOP Congressmen have decided enough is enough. Their push-back against Trump-inspired MAGA bullying is a late but most welcome political development that could yet save our republic. Fingers crossed their newfound fortitude sticks.
Sabrina Haake is a 25-year litigator specializing in 1st and 14th Amendment defense. Her columns appear in OutSFL, Chicago Tribune, Salon, State Affairs, and Howey Politics. She and her wife split their time between South Florida and Chicago. Follow her on substack.