Monday, January 11, 2021

Nate Monroe: Was this dark American day worth it, John Rutherford? (The Florida Times-Union)

Supporting the phony claims of election fraud, Congressman and former Jacksonville Sheriff JOHN RUTHERFORD might as well be named as an unindicted co-conspirator for his supporting the cause of the mob of willful men who sacked our United States Capitol on January 6, 2021.    

From The Florida Times-Union:

Nate Monroe: Was this dark American day worth it, John Rutherford?

COMMENTARY | Was it worth it, John Rutherford?

John Rutherford wearing a suit and tie: Former Jacksonville Sheriff and current U.S. Rep. John Rutherford.© Bruce Lipsky/Florida Times-Union Former Jacksonville Sheriff and current U.S. Rep. John Rutherford.

You are a former Jacksonville sheriff. You were once, not so long ago, a mainstream Duval Republican who was open to tax increases for public services and who opposed the death penalty. You took power in a time when Jacksonville was a very different place than the diversifying, growing and increasingly progressive city it is today, but you were still someone who respectable civic leaders once thought might even have been a decent mayor. I can't say you weren't a flawed leader. You certainly weren't my kind of leader. But you were someone of substance — there was an unmistakable thoughtfulness to you, a touch of moderation. And no one told John Rutherford what to do.

You are now a member of Congress, and as I type this, the nation's Capitol is on lockdown because a mob of rioters has stormed and overtaken the building. This is a frightening and furious moment for our republic.

I genuinely hope you are safe.

More: Pro-Trump rioters breach Capitol, forcing lockdown; one person shot; Pence evacuated, Senate chamber cleared out

I also hope you are taking a few moments to consider your own culpability in this dark American day. I hope you are writing a forthcoming public apology in your head, and that you are even considering the possibility of stepping down from your post. You are, simply stated, unworthy of the position.

You know what you and your colleagues have done.

You entertained the delusions of a madman, and you succumbed to his will. I won't repeat his name. You indulged his baseless conspiracy theories about a stolen national election, and you were at the ready to endorse his effort to remain in power despite having decisively lost the popular and electoral college votes. You were going to disenfranchise voters, John. These are real voters, who also happen to be real people, but they are apparently not real enough for you because they have a different set of values and a different vision for the country.

The protection offered by one of the least competitive congressional districts in Florida has made you cynical, John, and it has made you soft: You are a lackey for a wannabe dictator, a bully and a charlatan. You, a former lawman, did this.

Your plan — your pathetic theatrics, and those of your colleagues — was interrupted by a sea of enraged seditionists. They believed you, John, and they believed the madman, and they believed all your like-minded and weak-willed colleagues.

Nay, you'll protest, I'm being unfair. This wasn't what you had hoped for, what anyone had hoped for. The republic was stronger than this, you thought. The images of these freaks hanging from the walls in the very chambers of Congress, and loafing in the seats of powerful House leaders like conquering kings — it was all unthinkable just a few hours ago. 

But what did you expect would happen? 

Did you really plan to throw out legally cast ballots in the hope Congress would have a sober Socratic dialogue on the legality of non-legislative changes to election processes? Or were you just trying to cash in on the anger of the moment, to attach yourself like a remora to the leviathan whose fever dreams have divided this country and turned it against itself? 

You, John, are surely familiar with the legal concept of accomplice liability. Here in Florida, as you know, this can take the form of something called a felony homicide — when someone is shot and killed during the course of a separate crime, you can be charged for it even if you didn't pull the trigger.

You breathed life into outrageous lies and were on the verge of throwing away the unmistakable, unambiguous result of a free and fair election. And now you're surprised people are upset?

You fed the unfounded fear the presidential election had been stolen. And you're now shocked to see people are acting as if ... the presidency has been stolen? 

This, John, is your cross to bear — you fanned the flames. You played a role. A pathetic and small role, but a role nonetheless. This is on you and your colleagues. 

You were a man of the law. You were supposed to know better.

You once mustered a deep well of rage for social activists — you probably remember calling Black Lives Matter a "hate group." 

What are your words for the traitorous slugs who have swarmed the Capitol? You, or more likely someone for you, tweeted during the chaos that the "lawlessness taking place here in our nation’s capital is unacceptable and un-American."

But what of the people, John? Are they thugs? Are they hateful? Will you call them that?

And what does that make you?

It's not a flippant question, John. I hope you find the time to consider it, and I hope you have the courage to acknowledge the answer.

This is a breaking-news column. Nate Monroe's City column normally appears every Thursday and Sunday.

This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: Nate Monroe: Was this dark American day worth it, John Rutherford?

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