Matt Gaetz
Rep. Matt Gaetz at an "An Address to Young Americans" event, featuring President Donald Trump in Phoenix, AZ. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Gaetz and many other prominent Republicans insist that their voters would not only complain if Trump were to suffer very logical and straightforward consequences for his attempted coup, but that they would instead resort to violence.

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It is truly remarkable how often prominent Republicans talk about the prospect of political violence whenever there is any possibility that Donald Trump may be held to account for trying to overturn the 2020 election or any of the other crimes he is accused of.

This week, it was Rep. Matt Gaetz’s (R-FL) turn once again, who raised the specter of “bloodshed” if a court finds that, in accordance with the 14th Amendment, the former president is ineligible to run for office again because he incited an insurrection.

While we believe that, in order to banish the menace Trump poses to democracy and the US as a whole, he must be stopped at the ballot box and not in court, the 14th Amendment is not some gimmick. Rather, it is a cornerstone of democracy: If you tried to overthrow the duly elected government of the United States, then you are no longer fit to run the country.

Based on that, a strong case can certainly be made that, legally, Trump should not be allowed to run for president or any other office again – except, possibly, Cell Block C representative or something like that.

Again, that is not the preferred solution to this problem, but nobody should complain if this were a consequence the former president had to face as a result of his many actions to undermine and subvert democracy.

Gaetz and many other prominent Republicans, however, feel differently. They believe that their voters would not only complain if Trump were to suffer very logical and straightforward consequences for his attempted coup, but that they would instead resort to violence.

“I really worry that that type of action [i.e., applying the 14th Amendment to Trump] could lead to violence,” Gaetz said on The Driveway Liberty Podcast (this part of the conversation begins about 25 minutes into the recording).

Granted, the right-wing lawmaker, who is staunch supporter of Trump, added right away that he is “wildly opposed to violence” and that this isn’t “how we should resolve our disputes,” but merely by bringing it up, he is planting the idea in the minds of his supporters that this is possibility.

“[When] you start telling people that they can’t express their participation in this American experience through a vote, then they start looking for other ways, and they’re not, the vote is the best way to do it,” Gaetz said. “The other ways are not so good. And I worry if they start to take the vote away, you could see bloodshed in this country. Like none of us want.”

Of course, that is exactly what happened. The American voters expressed a strong preference for Joe Biden, and then Trump tried to take those votes away.

However, that irony seems to be lost on Gaetz.

Most importantly, while paying lip service to disavowing violence, he doesn’t take the next, logical step. What he and every other Republican should be doing is pointing out that their supporters must not resort to violence and that, if they do, they will appropriately face the consequences for their own actions, just like the hundreds of people who have been convicted for taking part in the January 6 insurrection

However, that is not something Gaetz or any of the others are doing because, to maintain their standing with Trump and in the MAGAverse, they have to defend the action of the people who stormed the Capitol that day.

Finally, the reason why so many supporters of the former president seem to be itching to take up arms is that Trump, Gaetz and all the others keep lying to them.

For example, if more of them had told the truth about Biden winning convincingly in 2020, we wouldn’t even be in this position right now.

Therefore, Gaetz’s talk about wildly opposing violence rings hollow because he is fomenting it every single day with his rhetoric.


  • Klaus Marre

    Klaus Marre is a writer, editor, former congressional reporter, and director of the WhoWhatWhy Mentor Apprentice Program. Follow him on Twitter @KlausMarre.

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