Give them Freedom or Give them Primaries

By now we’ve all read that, after their intentionally painful and humiliating, Stasi-esque arrests, the January 6 election protesters have been held in torturous conditions for political crimes, without access to due process, to their lawyers, to exonerating evidence, or the basic human dignities and comforts the American prison system gives to mass murderers. We all had the chance to listen to them sing the national anthem. Like the Free French singing “La Marseillaise” in “Casablanca,” it was simultaneously heartening and heartbreaking. We heard the voices of some of the most important patriots of the age. Not because they entered the “people’s house” on January 6, but because they refuse to have their true love of country beaten out of them by the people currently in charge of their country’s government. 

These so-called “insurrectionists” are so determined to destroy the United States of America that they chant “USA” to keep their imprisoned spirits up. And their prison guards are so determined to save American values that, when they’re not busy beating their internees or mocking their patriotism, they’re denying one—Chris Worrell—his cancer drugs.

At some point, they will finally go to court, and the accused will have to be given the opportunity to face their accusers and to be judged by juries of their peers. The Stasi knows this, and knows that no jury—unless it can be packed or intimidated—will ever convict these men. Remember: being judged not by the government, but by a jury of peers, is the ultimate check on state power, and the odds are that every one of the January 6 prisoners will be acquitted. (Look for the Left, in the not too distant future, to begin arguing that jury trials are discriminatory and only “expert” judges can be trusted to uphold the law.) 

But if these guys go free, what kind of deterrent will there be for Americans who might consider being civilly disobedient next time there’s an election to be stolen? So our Stasi must make sure the insurrectionists are punished for their crimes before their trials, because it’s unlikely they’ll be punished after. So, they’re arrested in front of their pregnant wives and children, by heavily armed secret policemen in juvenile storm-trooper costumes, dragged to miserable, solitary and unsanitary confinement, denied their human and civil rights, to show anyone else who won’t do as he’s told what happens to dissenters. Sure, in the end, you may be acquitted—but that won’t undo the year in solitary confinement, the time your kids spent alone, the miscarriage your wife had in your absence.

Not to mention that, as time goes on, as trials are delayed, as threats of 10, 20, 30 years in prison are repeatedly issued, more and more of these guys are going to be broken—forced to confess to crimes they didn’t commit. How many of us could say we wouldn’t do the same? Right now, they’re spending their winter at Valley Forge. And whatever we can do for them we are morally obligated to do.

Everything I’ve just written is known to every Republican in Congress. With just one or two exceptions, none of them has lifted a finger to obtain the release of these American political prisoners. In failing to do that, they undo anything else worthwhile they’ve done in their careers. Like our Supreme Court justices and the anchors at Fox News, they’re keeping their heads down and trying to pass unnoticed. What they ought to be doing is thinking of the men, from 1776 till today, who have given the last full measure of devotion for the freedoms these GOP schmucks won’t even give a press conference to protect.

If Republicans leave these men to rot, how can we continue to think of them as the lesser of two evils? Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), God love her, has done more for the January 6 prisoners than most of her Republican colleagues—she at least had the guts to say on the subject, that “solitary confinement is a form of punishment that is cruel and psychologically damaging . . . and we’re talking about people who haven’t been convicted of anything yet.” Have we reached the point where the only senator who cares about individual liberty is a socialist? What does that say about the other 99; in particular, the 50 who ran on an individual liberty platform?

The Republican establishment must be told: if you do nothing about political torture in Washington, D.C., you lose your base forever. Every one of you will be primaried. If you survive your primary, we’ll vote against you in the general. That’s the whole story. The old argument, “at least we’re not Democrats” won’t work anymore, because all of us will have lived through the final scene of Animal Farm:

“Voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike . . . the creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again, but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

About Ted McCartney

Ted McCartney is the pseudonym for a writer who lives in Washington, D.C..

Photo: (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

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