Last week was infrastructure week in DC. You probably didn’t hear about it because there was a white supremacist/neo-nazi rally in Charlottesville, VA. Sadly, this protest resulted in the death of Heather Hayer, an activist who was mowed down by a white supremacist when he drove his car into a crowd of people killing her and injuring dozens.
As you are also likely aware, President Trump struggled to maintain a consistent or coherent position on the events. Most appallingly, he made the claim that there were “fine people on both sides” of a protest in which one side consisted of neo-nazis and white supremacists, and one side... didn’t.
Rep. Davis rushed to condemn this statement with all the speed of someone waiting patiently to see which way the political winds were blowing. After several days, Rep. Davis FINALLY did an interview in which he said what most of the country realized the moment Trump said it, that “there are no good people at a white supremacist/neo-nazi rally.”
My initial reaction to Davis’ statement was one of relief. I may not think much of the Congressman, but I refused to believe he would sink so low as to support Trump’s defense of literal nazis. Unfortunately, that relief was short-lived as Rep. Davis proceeded to tell us why he was frustrated with Trump’s statement.
More than anything, Rep. Davis seemed upset by the fact that the President’s sympathies towards nazis and white supremacists were taking attention away from his agenda.
That’s right, Rep. Davis was so appalled by President Trump’s defense of racists and fascists that he spent a majority of his time discussing his desires to move past it and refocus on making sure Trump’s vision for America becomes a reality.
That’s important, because as of this writing Trump has shown no signs of apologizing for his statement or clarifying it further, and though this is something Rep. Davis has said he hopes Trump will do, nothing we’ve seen indicates this is a possibility. What then? What if Trump stands by his statement, and stands by his defense of nazis and white supremacists? What comes next?
If the evidence tells us anything, it’s that Rep. Davis will get right back to work dutifully furthering Trump’s agenda. After all, this is the same Rodney Davis that couldn’t support Trump after he bragged about sexually assaulting women on tape, then proceeded to vote in line with his agenda nearly 100% of the time. This is the same Rodney Davis that wants the “vitriolic rhetoric” in our political discourse to end, but just days ago posted a smiling selfie with known white supremacist Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who said (among many other horribly racist things) that “we can’t rebuild our civilization with someone else’s babies.”
Congressman Davis has shown time and again that his morality is secondary to his political aspirations. Why should we expect him to behave any differently this time? As if on cue, Rep. Davis made it abundantly clear that Trump’s statements wouldn’t be much of an issue for him going forward. In an interview the following day, Rep. Davis went out of his way to make sure that we don’t judge Trump too harshly, excusing Trump’s neo-nazi sympathies by reminding us that:
“The American people elected the first president in our lifetime in Donald Trump that did not have any government or military experience. That means he’s got a different learning curve and a different style in being president in what all of us have been used to our entire lifetime,”
Let me make this crystal clear to Rep. Davis, or anyone foolish enough to attempt to excuse Trump’s behavior in this way...
You shouldn’t need any military or government experience to know that nazis and white supremacists are bad people, and that when you’re given an opportunity to defend them...you don’t.
You shouldn’t need to be told that when the president of the United States panders to and sympathizes with neo-nazis and white supremacists, you don’t sit on your hands and wait to see whether or not you’ll pay a political price for disagreeing with him.
You don’t criticize someone that defends fascists and racists by making excuses. Instead, you lead. You acknowledge that your status as a member of congress brings with it increased responsibility, and that your voice carries weight.
Rep. Davis waited 3 days to criticize the President for something most Americans had already criticized him for, and when that criticism finally came, Congressman Davis couldn’t muster the courage to stand by it.
This is not leadership. This is cowardice.
Before long Davis will be right where he always is, carrying the water for Trump, or whoever he mistakenly feels he owes allegiance to (namely, anyone but his constituents). He won’t take any concrete steps to back his criticism up with action, although he could. Congress has the power to censure the President, and many of his democratic colleagues have already introduced a resolution to do exactly that. If Davis really thought Trump’s defense of neo-nazis and white supremacists was so terrible, he could actually do something about it. Of course, he never will. Davis has hitched his wagon to Trump, and come hell or nazi apologetics, he’s determined to go along for the ride.