The Corner

Politics & Policy

Anthony Gonzalez and the GOP

Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R., Ohio) attends a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, December 2, 2020. (Greg Nash / Pool via Reuters)

Frankly, I’m not sure I had heard of Anthony Gonzalez until Josh Mandel called him a “traitor.” Mandel is the leading GOP Senate candidate in Ohio. Who was this traitor Gonzalez? A GOP congressman from Ohio who had voted for President Trump’s (second) impeachment. Ah.

He was one of the ten. A roll of honor, in my opinion.

The Ohio Republican Party duly censured Gonzalez. That’s what state GOPs do now. I wrote at the time, “Some of my friends and colleagues get bent out of shape when someone suggests that the GOP has devolved into nothing but a personality cult around Trump. But you can see why people do the suggesting . . .”

House Republicans voted Liz Cheney — another impeacher — out of their leadership. Anthony Gonzalez made a striking statement: “If a prerequisite for leading our conference is continuing to lie to our voters, then Liz is not the best fit. Liz isn’t going to lie to people.”

Republicans voted to replace Cheney with Elise Stefanik. While campaigning for the job, Stefanik made appearances on the talk shows of Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka. That shows you where the juice is in today’s Republican Party.

Donald Trump, for his part, went to Ohio, to rally against Gonzalez. “He’s a grandstanding RINO, not respected in D.C.,” said the former president. I thought the second part of that statement was interesting. Since when does Trump, and Trump Nation, care about respect in D.C., the Swamp? The less respected, the better, right?

Trump said that Gonzalez had “voted for the unhinged, unconstitutional, illegal impeachment witch hunt.” Gonzalez, he said, was “a sellout, and a fake Republican, and a disgrace to your state.”

In response, Gonzalez said, “I couldn’t care less about what the former president says about me.” (He said this to Declan Garvey of The Dispatch.) “What I do care about is the fact that he continues to double and triple down on the election lies that led to insurrection on January 6 and very likely could lead to more violence in the future.”

Well said.

Gonzalez has now decided to bow out of Congress. Jonathan Martin (whose stops include National Review) has written the story for the New York Times.

Mr. Gonzalez said that quality-of-life issues had been paramount in his decision. He recounted an “eye-opening” moment this year: when he and his family were greeted at the Cleveland airport by two uniformed police officers, part of extra security precautions taken after the impeachment vote.

“That’s one of those moments where you say, ‘Is this really what I want for my family when they travel, to have my wife and kids escorted through the airport?’” he said.

Another excerpt from JMart’s piece:

Mr. Gonzalez was emphatic that the threats were not why he was leaving — the commute was more trying, he said — but in a matter-of-fact fashion, he recounted people online saying things like, “We’re coming to your house.”

Many GOP officeholders and officials are worried — very worried — about violence against them and their families. They confide this to journalists such as Tim Alberta (another NR alum). They receive regular, and credible, threats. I think this subject is too little remarked on — the threat of violence, and its influence on our politics.

The Right is willing to talk about BLM and Antifa; the Left is willing to talk about the insurrectionists and related thugs. Who is willing to damn all thugs, and stand up to them? Bless those who do.

On Thanksgiving Day last year, President Trump said of Brad Raffensperger, “He’s an enemy of the people.” He later said that Raffensperger’s brother “works for China.” This is not true. Nor is it true that Raffensperger is an enemy of the people. He is the secretary of state of Georgia, and he refused to help Trump subvert the election. I would call him a friend of the people.

Raffensperger and his wife were subjected to a deluge of death threats and rape threats. They required 24-hour security. I’m not sure what their security situation is now.

Obviously, you take some risks when you enter public life. But physical safety? Should that be part of it? In America?

On Twitter, I spoke of Anthony Gonzalez, and the threat of violence that hangs over politicians who vote or act the “wrong” way. The head of CPAC responded,

Jay this man is a former professional football player. Pretty sure he isn’t quitting for fear of getting a wedgie.

I saw those guys on January 6 — the “Hang Mike Pence” crowd. They didn’t look like mere wedgie-givers to me.

Back to Jonathan Martin’s report:

Mr. Gonzalez, who turns 37 on Saturday, was the sort of Republican recruit the party once prized. A Cuban American who starred as an Ohio State wide receiver, he was selected in the first round of the N.F.L. draft and then earned an M.B.A. at Stanford after his football career was cut short by injuries. He claimed his Northeast Ohio seat in his first bid for political office.

Yes. He is exactly the sort of recruit the Republican Party once prized. But now he is persona non grata. Everything is topsy-turvy. By the next session, the House GOP may well be 100 percent Trump — not a single dissenter or heretic in the bunch.

Anthony Gonzalez saw the president incite a mob to attack the U.S. Congress for the purpose of stopping a constitutional process. He thought this was a very big deal — impeachable, in fact. He has refused to lie about the election, or dance about the subject. If Gonzalez is a traitor, the country could use more of this treason.

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