Protesters and Patriots. They Are Not the Same.

Protesters and Patriots. They Are Not the Same.


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Jeff Timmer
Political Consultant and Strategist
Past Executive Director of the Michigan Republican Party
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press

What has been on display in Lansing, Mich., last week (and in other state capitals since) is not life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness. Nope. Under the guise of our American right to assembly, a mob containing far too many nitwits have gathered to protest under the auspices of what they see as an excessively restrictive quarantine order by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. In reality, it had nothing to do with restrictions on liberty or the governor’s executive order. Rather, it was a ham-fisted and raw political stunt to make Whitmer look bad and fan the flames for Trump and the GOP in November.

The protestors not only endangered themselves, but needlessly jeopardized thousands of others throughout Michigan. But, by god, they made the news and owned the libs, “Hi Mom. I’m a friggin patriot! Governor half-Whitmer can’t stop me. Ain’t no virus can either.”

The ensuing news and social media has abounded with images and video of hundreds of people ignoring medical science and common sense by congregating around the state capitol without masks and with no regard to distancing. Posing for pictures literally arm-in-arm with strangers. Dumbassery on parade. A vigorous competition for a coveted “Darwin Award.”

The odds that asymptomatic COVID-19 carriers were in the crowd are near 100 percent. The probability these “patriots” have now carried the virus to their families, essential workers, grocery stores, doctors, and nurses is astronomical. Areas that have so far eluded the coronavirus will now have it served to them on a platter of carelessness and stupidity.

The protest will be the delta for new cases – and more deaths – in Michigan over the next month.

We’ve seen how overwhelmed and underequipped large hospital systems in the state’s most populous areas were to deal with this rampaging disease. How are small-town facilities going to deal with a spike in demand for ICU beds?

“We don’t give a damn,” was the prevailing attitude of the protesters. The dangers and deadliness are known by all. The protesters either callously ignored that evidence or are too dumb to grasp it – and there was more than ample stupidity evident with Confederate flags and swastikas on loud and proud display. Every COVID-19 case eventually traced back to Michigan’s Capitol was avoidable. Every ensuing death could arguably be considered negligent homicide.

Culpable also are the Republican Party and conservative groups that organized and promoted the event. They stoked the flames of ignorance that will needlessly spread this virus further. Originally billed as “protest from your car,” there was exactly zero chance this was not going to turn into the circus freakshow it did. They aren’t absolved because the rabble they roused didn’t follow the rules.

Even those how stayed in their cars managed to jam the streets, delaying essential healthcare workers from getting to their shifts on time at a nearby hospital. They also caused at least one ambulance, with flashers blazing and sirens blaring, to be stuck in gridlock for several minutes that could have been the difference between life and death. Fortunately, it wasn’t, but that’s beside the point.

Neither do the organizers get to disassociate themselves from the cockroaches and cretins displaying the aforementioned Confederate flags and swastikas. Those folks didn’t happen to be there separately. Rather, they are now an integral and embraced cog in the Republican Party coalition and their presence was part of the AstroTurf spending that built the crowd. Anyone who disputes that isn’t being intellectually serious, but there are good people on both sides, right?

I know many of the organizers. Some of them are certified kooks. Many are good people, even friends, who made an astoundingly bad choice to be part of the reckless protest. If they don’t regret that already, I hope they come to that realization.

If Michigan’s quarantine needs to be extended due to the gathering, more Michiganders will lose their jobs and more business will never re-open. Let’s remember who aided and abetted today’s mob. It was the Trump Republicans and their allies – not Gov. Whitmer.

I know which side I’ll be choosing between now and November.

Jeff Timmer is a political consultant and strategist. He was Executive Director of the Michigan Republican Party and is now an erstwhile GOPer. Follow him on Twitter @jefftimmer

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