The Enemy of Extremism.

Moderate Party
Moderate Party
The Enemy of Extremism.
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In this week’s episode of Moderate Party, Hillari Lombard reflects on the riots at the US Capitol, what it means for democracy in the United States, and what role moderate must play in what happens next.

The Events at the Capitol mark a dark and depressing chapter in American Democracy. Members of Congress have routinely peddled lies about voter fraud, they have stoked the flames of grievance for their own personal ambition, and now the impact of their actions have come home to roost. The truth is, if you court hate, embolden white supremacy, and spread lies, you are responsible for the events of last week. We must hold the President, and those who protect and enable him, accountable.

Political moderates and centrists are the natural enemy of extremists. As such, they have a duty to step up and defend our democracy from the poison of polarization and extremism. The time for Moderates is now. We must fight, not with force, but with work, for American democracy.

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Hillari Lombard: [00:00:00] Hey guys, welcome to Moderate Party, a political podcast for moderate centrist and independence. I’m your host, Hillary Lombard. And today we’re going to be talking about the riots that unfolded at the US Capitol last week and what happens next? It’s going to be a heavier episode today, guys, but it’s really important.

 Let’s get started.

[00:00:28]I’ve been struggling a lot with what to say about what happened last week. It doesn’t feel enough to be outraged. Obviously, we’re all outraged. It needed to be more than that. I’ve had so many questions as I’m sure you have as well. And I’ve really struggled to find answers for them. Some questions are more direct. Where were the police? Where it was? Trump is everyone okay. Others, the more painful questions are more abstract. Why did this happen? Whose fault is this? How could they do this? What does it say about America? And what’s going to happen to us. I found myself downplaying comparisons to pre-Civil war America or pre-World War II, Germany. I’ve dismissed the comparisons as dramatic or hyperbolic, but after the events of this week, I find myself wondering, did it feel like this?

[00:01:27] Do you think that we feel history as it’s being made? Or is it something that we only become aware of? In hindsight, if you look at the conditions that come before a war or regime change, they follow a similar pattern, economic decline, loss of civic, trust racial unrest, militarization, and violence. We had all of those ingredients and now we have an attack on the US Capitol by a mob of insurrectionists

[00:01:54] As a sidebar, one of the things I can’t wrap my head around is their confidence. Can you imagine being so confident that nothing bad would happen to you, that you actually live stream yourself breaking the law? They took selfies. They gave their names to reporters. They did interviews! One guy showed up wearing a camp Auschwitz t-shirt. I think it says a lot about the crowd that, that man felt confident he could wear that shirt and not get his ass kicked. I don’t ever want to be in a room where that’s the possibility.

[00:02:26] Even beyond that, imagine having the confidence to think that you can break into the US Capitol with Molotov cocktails, take a selfie on the Senate floor, leave a threatening note for the speaker of the house, force, every member of Congress to be evacuated, and not expect to get arrested or shot? Can you imagine that kind of confidence because black people can’t, they’re not even confident that they can survive walking home with a bag of Skittles.

[00:02:55] We can’t ignore the racial implications of this event. They’re undeniable. At this point in June of this year, we saw Capitol police respond to black lives matter protestors with tear gas and rubber bullets. And that was just so the president could get a photo op at St. John’s Episcopal church. 

[00:03:12]This was a law enforcement failure, and that failure surrendered our capital and abandoned our police president. Trump tweeted about this event multiple times in December, we knew it was coming. We should have been prepared.

[00:03:25] This failure left Capitol police officers, overwhelmed and outnumbered. Over 50 officers were injured and hundreds of writers escaped without charge because our officers were too overrun to charge them.

[00:03:36] I’ve seen some footage on social media talking about how police officers were escorting them out or how they were being too nice to the rioters. While I understand that can be upsetting to see, especially in light of the BLM protest over the summer, I’m not sure that they honestly had much of a choice. They were so radically outnumbered that it could have just made things worse. And could’ve it, could’ve made things more violent. I don’t want to weigh into that further because, in truth, I am not a law enforcement expert.

[00:04:09] And I think that it’s dangerous when people speak on behalf of law enforcement about things that they truly don’t know much about.

[00:04:17] What I will say is if you put a frog in boiling water, it’ll jump out. But if you put it in cold water and heat it slowly, it’ll sit there and boil. Democracy dies the same way.

[00:04:31] Right now, America is boiling.

[00:04:35] It has been widely reported that Mike Pence had to step in and deploy the national guard because Trump wouldn’t do it. If this reporting is accurate, that’s a damning condemnation of a US president. I’m going to post that reporting in the show notes for this episode. Since it’s such a serious allegation, I encourage you to read through the reporting and sit through the evidence yourself, instead of just taking my word for it. I won’t speak to that issue any further, but what I will speak to is what we know president Trump was doing during the riots.

[00:05:07] A spokesperson for Republican Senator Mike Lee confirmed the president trump called him on his personal cell phone at approximately 2:00 PM Eastern time. Which is about 30 minutes after things started hitting the fan at the end was Capitol. So, President Trump calls him actually by mistake. He’s looking for Senator Tommy Tuberville from Alabama. And since all of the senators are together, Senator Mike Lee goes and gets Tuberville and puts him on the phone.

[00:05:35] At that point, President Trump tries to convince Tuberville that he should object to the election results and delay certification. They only talked for about 10 minutes before the call gets cut off and senators have to be moved to a safer location because obviously there’s a riot going on. Then it’s 7:00 PM in what feels like an SNL skit, the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani calls. Senator Mike Lee. Again, for some reason, he’s looking for Senator Tuberville, but by mistake calls Mike Lee. Senator Mike Lee doesn’t answer the phone because unlike some people, he is doing his job. It’s still 7:00 PM that same day. Luckily we all know what he said because Rudy Giuliani left a voicemail and the audio leaked to The Dispatch. I’m going to play that for you now

[00:06:29] Insert Transcript from the dispatch [00:06:29] 

[00:07:53]Hillari Lombard: [00:07:53] This paints a pretty clear picture of President Trump’s priorities as a right is going on. He is actively trying to undermine the election results, but I bet most of you aren’t even that shocked by that.

[00:08:07] Trump like an abusive spouse has conditioned us to accept his behavior. He has become so outrageous, so extreme that it has forced us to move the goalposts for what is acceptable. It’s like when you come out swinging with racist stuff that we can never imagine hearing from the US president, we start to become okay. Or even happy with just little bits of racism, because at least it’s not as bad as before.

[00:08:35] When he took office, a lot of people were outraged. We have a more active citizenry than we’ve had in decades, but truthfully, a lot of us just got tired of being angry at every single thing. So, we got used to being disappointed. We got used to being embarrassed by what he says. We stopped caring about the tweets. He sends out an average of 30 tweets a day. If you get mad at every single one, you’re going to have a pretty shitty day every day.

[00:09:03] And then there were the never Trumpers Republicans that came out and said, no, that guy sucks. That is not our guy that does not represent conservative values. He doesn’t speak for us. Unfortunately, they got smaller and smaller as his presidency went on because they didn’t find support. It was lonely. Your friends, your family, your loved ones, you were isolated from them, but then you didn’t agree with the Democrats either.

[00:09:29] So you just end up homeless. And it’s hard to stay there. So you start accepting his behavior little by little, and then here we are, I’m going to play a clip for you. And when you listen to this clip, I encourage you to take the president at his word. Regardless of your feelings for the man, listened to what he says and imagine that every word of it is true.

Donald Trump:  This is a fraud on the American public. This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election, frankly, we did win this election. If you count the legal votes, I easily win. If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal. The election from us. They want to take, not me but, us down and we can never let them do that. The answer to the Democrat fraud is not stay at home. It was a rigged election. Are you looking at the different States? The election was totally rigged. Democrat officials in the key swing States illegally violated their own state laws in order to enable, encourage and facilitate fraud on a scale never before seen. In the history of our country. If you don’t fight to save your country with everything you have, you’re not going to have a country left. We must stop this deal. And then we must ensure that such outrageous election fraud never happens again, can never be allowed to happen again, but we’re going forward. We’ll take care of going forward. If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.

[00:11:07] Hillari Lombard:  Scary, isn’t it. If you believe him, if you believe in him, rhetoric like this is terrifying because you trust him. 75 million people voted for this man. He commands the trust of 75 million Americans.

[00:11:25] His actions matter, his tweets matter, his words matter. Speaking of words, I would like to play his words for you twice more first. I want you to hear what he said to his supporters moments before they stormed the Capitol.

[00:11:41] Donald Trump: [Now it is up to Congress to confront this egregious assault on our democracy. And after this, we’re going to walk down and I’ll be there. Yeah. We’re going to walk down to the Capitol and we’re going to cheer on. Our brave senators and congressmen and women. And we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.

[00:12:19]Hillari Lombard:  That is the President of the United States, encouraging a mob of his supporters to March down to the Capitol and pressure members of Congress to object to the election results he knows are legitimate, he has filed 57 legal challenges as of December 10, and no court has been able to find a single instance of voter fraud.

[00:12:46] Rudy Giuliani, the President’s attorney, when questioned by a federal district judge even admitted, this is not a fraud case. Yet still, he moved to undermine the election. I think that we all know why. Even when he sent out a video asking his supporters to go home, he couldn’t even finish the video without getting out claims of voter fraud.

[00:13:09] Trump must be impeached. He must be removed from office. I don’t care if there are only five minutes left in his term, he must be removed. Why? Because actions must have consequences. If the actions that the Capitol pass with a slap on the wrist, it will only embolden those who wish to do our country harm.

[00:13:30]If he is not impeached, he will leave office with zero consequences for his behavior. He will be free to do worse in 2024, not to mention the impact that would have on his supporters. It is absolutely inexcusable that Twitter and Facebook have done more to hold the president accountable than the United States Congress.

[00:13:50] And to my Republican listeners, if you have any love for your party, I implore you. Please call your representative and push them to impeach. One thing I am certain of is that the Republican party will not survive Trump. If it does not act soon. The burden falls on Republican leaders even more because Trump is a monster of their making.

[00:14:10] This brings us to the GOP. The GOP bears a lot of blame for the last week’s events. And before I go further, I want to clarify, I don’t mean ideologically conservative people or even people that vote Republican. I’m talking about The Republican party.

[00:14:27] Leaders within the Republican party have routinely placed the success of their party and themselves above the prosperity of our country, the rule of law, and the voice of the people. They’ve routinely obstructed the government block legislation, attacked science, raised the debt after preaching the gospel of fiscal conservatism. They’ve broken norms, they’ve spread lies and misinformation. They courted populism and fostered rage and grievance within their supporters. They stoked anti-government sentiment and exploited it for personal gain. They villainized Democrats so much that anytime they actually did compromise their base felt betrayed.

[00:15:08]Just look at the data – in the 2016 Republican primary, 60 to 70% of voters opted for an outside candidate. With insiders and party leaders earning less than 20% of their support. The rage and grievance, they stirred up in their base became something they could no longer control. It is Frankenstein’s monster.

[00:15:29] I considered pulling this critique about the Republican party because I was worried that it would call into question the moderate nature of the show. I thought that going at one party over the other would make it appear. I wasn’t speaking from the middle or that I wasn’t representing a moderate point of view. But that didn’t sit well with me.

[00:15:45] I’m telling you this because it is the truth. Sugarcoating. It doesn’t help anyone. I remain as ideologically centrist as I’ve ever been, but I refuse to pull punches as to not offend the far if you’re listening to this podcast, you’re trusting me, to some degree, to inform you.

[00:16:04] I take that responsibility seriously, which is why this critique is so important. I won’t pander just to get more listeners, I will tell you the truth, because that is what you deserve. Many GOP lawmakers do not offer their constituents. The same courtesy.

[00:16:20] Congressional Republicans have continued to undermine the election by pedaling, conspiracy theories and claims of voter fraud claims that have no evidence to support them, as we discussed earlier.

[00:16:32] After rioters invaded the Capitol, literally that night, 147 Republican lawmakers still opted to object to the election results, knowing full well that their vote was only symbolic since they didn’t have the votes to change anything. Kelly Loeffler only withdrew her objection to the election after she lost the runoff in Georgia. And while I appreciate that at the last minute, she did tell the truth. It paints a very clear picture of her motivation.

[00:16:59] I want to pay particular attention to Senator Josh Holly and Senator Ted Cruz together, they represent what many have called the future of the Republican party in the air to Trump’s base. Both of them made a concerted and public effort to undermine the election results. At the height of the violence after senators had been evacuated, Ted Cruz and Josh Holly’s campaigns, both send out fundraising texts and emails to their supporters, championing their work to undermine the election.

[00:17:32] Let me read one to you, Ted Cruz here, I’m leading the fight to reject electors from key States, unless there is an emergency audit of the election results. He includes a fundraising link. It’s worth noting. He’s not even up for reelection until 2024 while he was fundraising Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick was being beaten to death with a fire extinguisher and another officer screamed for help as he was crushed against a door by the mob.

[00:18:02] Former Republican Senator Bob Corker, put it plainly everyone can see through them and look understand that they’re running for president. They think that they’re going to get a pass and that they can be popular with the base and there’s no harm done. There was harm done”

[00:18:19] it matters. All of this matters. Their actions matter. The more that they go along with this, the more their supporters go along with it because they trust them.

[00:18:35] It’s one of the things that frustrates me the most is that as much as we talk about you can’t trust a politician or you can’t trust the government people do, we do. We place our trust in members of Congress. And when they peddle conspiracy theories and undermine democracy, they betray that trust

[00:18:54] Before the election in November, 35% of Republicans thought that the election would not be free and fair, 35%. After the election, that number shot up to 70%. It’s not hard to see why. You’ve heard it from leaders in the Republican party. Trump and his allies have repeatedly made baseless allegations of fraud. They incited this violence and on Wednesday it came home to roost.

[00:19:21] This brings us to the poison at the heart of American democracy. Polarization. As our nation grows more secular, the American people, all too often, have traded religion for party affiliation. Instead of belonging to a church, we belong to a party. We’ve made our party, our identity. And when you do that, you make the cost of defeat unbearable. Compromise? Inconceivable, and weak. We’ve become so polarized that we don’t even want to confront the truth. And that goes for either side. There were real reasons to be concerned about Joe Biden as a Presidential Candidate, but people on the left didn’t want to confront that they didn’t want to talk about it and more over they dismissed any critique of Joe Biden, his family, his policies, his record, as a right wing talking point.

[00:20:16] And then on the right, they would rather believe conspiracy theorists, their crazy uncle on Facebook, people on Reddit or worse, 4Chan, 8Chan; they would rather believe news coming from those people than the press. Why? Because the press is telling them that they’re wrong: they were wrong to believe in this guy or they were wrong about who they thought he was,that some of the things going on in our country are racist, and if you didn’t think that you’re wrong and that’s hard. It’s hard to be confronted with data that goes against everything that you believe. That doesn’t mean that they’re bad people. That’s challenging for anyone.

[00:21:02]If you handed me evidence that basically said, Reese Witherspoon, sweet, precious Reese Witherspoon, who is as American as Apple pie was a sexual predator. I would have a really difficult time accepting that. I wouldn’t want to accept that. I would try to rationalize it. I’d probably make excuses for her. I’d talk about her incredible performance in Walk the Line, or how cute she is. I’d talk about all the work she does for women. I would try to explain it away, but eventually, I would accept it. Because I’m not her. I don’t know her. I think she’s an absolute delight, but there are no negative consequences to me accepting that truth about her.

[00:21:46]But when it comes to politics, it’s not the same because of polarization. We’ve become more and more isolated from other points of view, further insulated within our own ideology. The more we retreat, the worse it gets. All of a sudden, every news source that you consume, every person that you talk to, they’re all saying the same thing. My Reese Witherspoon example was easy because she’s very far removed from me. There are no real consequences for me if that’s true.Plus, she’s America’s sweetheart and would never, ever do those things,

[00:22:22]but let’s take the right as an example. If they were to accept all of these things that the media accuses Trump of doing to be true. If they believe them, then it means not only are they wrong, but their husband or their wife is wrong. Their sister is wrong. Their brother is wrong. Their friends are wrong. Their mom is wrong, everybody that they know and respect. Even the people that you see on TV, they’re supposed to be telling you the facts, the news, all of those people must be wrong. And that’s scary. It’s destabilizing. You’d have to start over or go at it alone. And that’s really hard. And honestly, most people would rather have it easy.

[00:23:06] It is easy to consume information and just believe it to be true. It’s likewise, easy to consume information and believe it to be alive. What is hard is discerning for yourself what is true and what is false, especially when we’ve become so polarized that there’s nobody around you to help you. It would actually put you in opposition to everybody that you love. 

[00:23:30]Consider this. Think about all of the things that you believe in; things like reproductive freedom. Pro-choice pro-life gay marriage gender expression, religious freedom, guns rights, the death penalty. What role the government should play in society. Free speech, environmental issues businesses, healthcare who gets what, and from who, how much should we pay in taxes?

[00:24:00]All of those beliefs have to line up with one of two parties. Throughout the seventies and eighties, you had more options, right? You could be a liberal Republican or a conservative Democrat. And you wouldn’t be alone, or you could just be Jim from down the street and your identity was not defined by your political party, but what’s happened is that we take all of the things that we believe, and we project them onto one of two parties and we start to line everything up behind that.

[00:24:30] What type of news do you read? You can tell if you’re a Republican or Democrat, what food do you eat? Republican or Democrat? It’s become so stupid that it’s like Democrats care about teachers, Republicans. Don’t. Republicans care about the military Democrats don’t. None of that is true. Who’s out here trying to take things away from teachers and the military? Nobody wants to do that. But we are forced to choose. So, it’s not, do you want to take things away from teachers do you want to take things away from soldiers? It becomes, do you want to take things away from teachers or soldiers and your choice puts you in one of two parties. So all of a sudden, everything that you believe in is associated with this one party.

[00:25:16] So, if that party loses power, what does that mean? It means that everybody that voted for him was rejected. What they believed in was rejected. Their vision for America was not the one that we chose to go with as a majority that stings it didn’t use to sting as much because this used to be one of many choices that you would make.

[00:25:40] But now in a lot of ways, it’s the only one. It decides everything about you. So you’re either a winner or loser and nobody wants to be a loser. So what happens is that the things we do to keep power, keep escalating, we get crazier and crazier, and then we get crazy on the other side to match it. And the cycle continues.

[00:26:06] And then you’re watching the news and you find out that insurrectionists have stormed the capital. It really is that simple. And also that complicated.

[00:26:16] The role of moderates is more important now than it has ever been.

[00:26:22] Moderates are the enemy of extremists. As they attempt to destroy our democracy, it will be up to us to beat them back. The middle ground must be defended, not by force, but by work. By outworking them by showing them a better way. Extremism cannot be met with more extremism. So as long as the right and the left are the only two sides fighting, we all lose it’s time for the center to get in the game. It’s time to fight harder for the middle then they can fight for the left or right. We have the numbers. There are more people that believe in a moderate ideology than either of the extremes. The moderate vision for America is in sync with the American people. We are a moderate nation yet, you’re hard-pressed to find moderate members of Congress.

[00:27:16] We need to defend the center and build a middle ground so safe that people from both sides could come back to it. Democracy is not a certainty. Or some God given, right? It’s something that we work for. It’s something that we earn. We’ve surrendered too much ground to extremists. We’ve allowed them to steal into our homes and infect our fellow Americans. They’ve broken apart our families they’ve taken our friends. We’ve allowed them to degrade the press and inflate queue and on until both are equal. We’ve allowed them to replace debate with hate and make compromise cowardice. The goal is no longer to solve problems it’s to make them so that the other side can’t get anything passed. They’ve done all of this because we’ve let them. Moderates have become disengaged or we’ve radicalized because the middle can be a pretty lonely place. It makes you an enemy of both sides, but there’s strength in numbers.

[00:28:21] We need to start rewarding politicians that actually get stuff done, not applauding grandstanding and a failure to compromise. We need to make pragmatism sexy, and we need to make sure that extremists are not rewarded. And that QAnon supporters are not elected to the US Congress. That happened! Not once, but multiple times! it’s time to get in the game and get people that think like you in the game too. It’s time to go to bat for things like truth and decency and democracy. America has always prided itself on being above regime change or political collapse, but we’re not. Rome was the greatest power of the ancient world and it fell. The United States is no different. I know it sounds cheesy to say that United we stand and divided we fall, but that’s the truth. It Is the truth. If we continue to let polarization divide us, this nation will fall. Last week we saw the beginning and it’s up to us to decide if that’s also the end. 

[00:29:34]As far as the show is concerned, we are going to spend the next year looking at every possible Avenue for combating extremism and polarization. We’re going to do everything we can to get people excited about actually solving problems. We’re going to make bipartisanship sexy. We’re going to fight for our democracy by fighting the things that ail it. We’re going to seek to understand people that disagree with us, vet ideas, vet policy, talk about the news and figure out what we should be doing and making sure that we do it.

[00:30:06]I don’t know exactly what that’s going to look like guys, but I know that we just have to try. I’m Hillari Lombard, and this is Morderate Party.

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