You may have never heard of Thomas Mann, the 1929 Nobel Prize in Literature laureate, but you probably have heard his most-famous quote: “Everything is politics.” Sure, eventually, everything can be traced back to politics, but that doesn’t mean it should.
For instance, the killing of Breonna Taylor in her own home shouldn’t be politicized. The investigation into the police who killed her and the process that ensures equal justice is blindly served should be apolitical.
Yet, Republicans must agree with Mann: Nothing is off limits when it comes to gaining a political advantage. Taylor’s killing, the investigation and the nationwide protests against racial injustice and violent policing of Black communities are what Republicans are betting their 2020 election fortunes on.
Last week, Kentucky Senate Republicans joined the campaign to exploit images of racial unrest and fears of Kentucky’s white, rural and suburban voters ahead of the 2020 election. I wouldn’t be so cynical if Trump and others hadn’t said the private part aloud: The Republican Party is the party of “law and order.”
Several state Senate Republicans held a press conference at which they criticized Louisville Mayor Fischer for “failed leadership,” and called on Gov. Beshear to do… something. Senate President Robert Stivers’ actual words were, “We are looking to the governor now … to tell us what the plan is to restore hope and the economy of the city of Louisville.”
Stivers also suggested that Beshear consider sending the National Guard into downtown Louisville — the exact failed-peacekeeping strategy that led to the killing of local BBQ restaurateur David McAtee. (And, I don’t know about Stivers’ hometown of Manchester, in rural, Southeast Kentucky, but armed military patrols are not how to convince Louisvillians to travel downtown for dinner and a night out.)
Other than that, none of the Republican senators offered any ideas or proposals. Instead, they described Louisville as reflecting Trump’s “American carnage,” citing rises in homicides and carjackings and damaged, boarded-up properties.
Sen. Julie Raque Adams, whose district partially includes East Louisville, suggested Beshear call a special legislative session to address police reforms, without offering any legislative ideas or proposals of her own or on behalf of the Republican caucus.
What makes their outrage so clearly disingenuous — in addition to not presenting a single idea — is that Stivers and Raque Adams both admitted they had not spoken to Fischer about their concerns. If they were serious about doing something, they would have reached out months ago.
So why voice their concerns now? It’s two months until the election! Need further evidence that they view what’s happening in Louisville as nothing more than political opportunism?
They’re quick to call Fischer a failure and declare they’re willing to work in a bipartisan manner on helping Louisville now. “What is the state going to do to help us, and you know what, the state needs to step in not only from a resources standpoint but I think from a policy standpoint,” Raque Adams said.
Where were she and Stivers in 2016, when the local optional sales tax that Fischer supported died in the Senate after passing the state House with bipartisan support? Where were they in 2016, when Fischer called for state legislation that would allow cities, like Louisville, to enact local gun control measures within city limits? Why didn’t any of them mention their support for Breonna’s Law, a bill pre-filed by Louisville Democratic Rep. Attica Scott?
My point is, for years, Republican lawmakers in Frankfort have stood in the way of Fischer, the council and anything the city has tried to do to improve, socially or economically. And now they’re calling him a failure? Now they want to help?
I’m not suggesting that any one of the bills supported by Fischer would have saved Breonna Taylor or any of the other victims of racist policing. I am, however, calling attention to the hypocrisy of Stivers, Raque Adams and others who have obstructed Louisville’s calls for action in the past but are happy to jump on the bandwagon to help when it serves their political purposes.
If all of this sounds familiar, that’s probably because Republicans on the Metro Council held their own bash-Fischer press conference just a few weeks ago. Perhaps it is just a coincidence, not a part of Republican-calculated political campaign leading up to an election. Nah, for a party without a platform, everything is politics. After all, as FDR said, “In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.”