I’m not often impressed by House Republicans, but I’ll give them full credit for doing the right thing this time: They spotted a bad actor and moved, decisively, to get rid of him.
I’m not talking about House Republicans in Washington, D.C., who make Deputy Dawg look like Eliot Ness. As Donald Trump turns the White House into a spittoon, most Congressional Republicans are too busy sticking their fingers in their ears to do anything decisive.
No, I’m applauding House Republicans right here in Washington state. They detected a rotten apple in their midst – Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley – and drummed him right out of the GOP caucus.
Republican leaders took action shortly after they learned Shea had, repeatedly, incited gun-toting rednecks to tangle with federal employees. They stripped him of all committee assignments, barred him from using House Republican staff and purged his name and photo from the House GOP website shortly before Christmas.
Happy Holidays to you, Rep. Shea!
He had it coming, and one wonders if others of his ilk might suffer a similar fate.
Idaho Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, whose district abuts Shea’s, certainly has some ‘splaining to do. Her name appears more than a dozen times in a detailed, 108-page investigative report that prompted Republican leaders to give Shea the bum’s rush.
Scott appears to have been a minor player in Shea’s skullduggery, responsible for lining up bail bondsmen in the wake of armed confrontation that he fomented. Rep. Scott’s ace-in-the-hole is that she’s a Republican from Idaho, which means she probably will weather the storm.
Even so, she and other far-right politicians ought to rethink their reflexive allegiance to self-styled “patriots” who brandish guns whenever things aren’t going their way.
Meanwhile, no one should lament Shea’s fall from grace. His warning light had been blinking red for years, and his banishment from the GOP caucus was long overdue.
“He absolutely should resign,” Republican Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox, of Yelm, told The Spokesman-Review. “His role as a House Republican is over.”
Take a bow, Rep. Wilcox. You and your GOP colleagues have shown that political affiliation does not confer immunity on party members who seek to hijack civil society at the point of a gun.
Ah yes, armed standoffs. In “patriot” circles, they’re as American as apple pie.
Remember that armed standoff three years ago at a federal wildlife refuge in eastern Oregon? The report commissioned by Washington’s House of Representatives revealed Shea “ … as a leader in the Patriot Movement, planned, engaged in and promoted” that deadly confrontation and others around the American West between 2014 and 2016.
The nearly six-week occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge got the most attention, both because of its length and the fact that one of the provocateurs was shot to death by federal authorities.
Shea visited the Malheur standoff in the guise of a concerned public servant trying to defuse a dangerous situation. In truth, he was a major organizer, and the fact that someone got killed was icing on the cake. Planning documents for the Malheur standoff specifically urged participants to, “Expose (federal agents) as tyrants by making them act like tyrants.”
Nothing says tyranny quite like a dead “patriot,” eh?
Add it all up, as the Washington House report does, and you’ll find that Shea “participated in an act of domestic terrorism against the United States.”
Though Rep. Shea continues to cling to his House seat, he is the invisible man in Olympia these days. He is a party of one, and a pariah to all.
In a broader context, malcontents on the far right need to stop muttering about tyranny and waving guns around whenever they disagree with Uncle Sam. There are 330 million of us in The Land of The Free, and patience is wearing thin with pool hall “patriots” who seek to shred the fabric of civil society.
William Brock lives in Pullman.