The clear and present danger of Jim Jordan & Co.

Six months ago, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) declared, “I think the country is ready to move on and we’re done with this [COVID-19], but you guys [the media] keep wanting to talk about it.” In September 2021, he asserted that vaccine mandates were “un-American.” Apparently, Jordan did not know — or care — that George Washington mandated smallpox vaccines for his troops in 1777; vaccinations for scores of illnesses have been mandated in schools for over 100 years and deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court.

In November, Jordan, who refuses to indicate whether he has been vaccinated, acknowledged that he had had COVID-19. On Dec. 2, when about 1,000 Americans were dying from the coronavirus every day, and omicron, a highly transmissible variant, was spreading around the globe, Jordan tweeted, “Real America is done with COVID-19. The only people who don’t understand that are Fauci and Biden.”

Along with other prominent Republican politicians who have downplayed the danger of the coronavirus and opposed mitigation efforts — including social distancing, masking and vaccination — Jordan, who boasts 2 million Twitter followers, has, alas, had an impact.

At the end of 2020, before vaccines were available, per capita death rates from COVID-19 were about the same in red and blue states. By October 2021, however, 25 of every 100,000 residents had died in counties where a large majority voted to reelect former President Trump — more than three times higher than the fatality rate in counties that delivered substantial majorities to President Biden.

With almost 40 percent of Republican adults still unvaccinated, compared with 10 percent of Democrats, the death gap will continue to grow.

When you really look over Jordan (who played a pivotal role as well in spreading the false claim that Democrats stole the 2020 presidential election), what do you see? Insolent, ignorant and irresponsible is he.

Several years ago, the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures enumerated the attributes of effective elected officials. They include appealing to “the best instincts of the electorate” by talking about what the legislator stands for and intends to do; always taking the high road; learning “how to disagree without being disagreeable” and never burning bridges with adversaries who may subsequently be allies; using the resources of their offices “to help the community find solutions;” recognizing that “honesty is the best policy” in politics as well as in life. Above all, legislators should put the interests of their constituents, state and nation above self-promotion and self-interest.

In 2021, the Center for Effective Lawmaking (CEL) named Jordan one of the least effective members of Congress, ranking him 202 out of 205 Republicans in the House of Representatives.

Anthony Gonzalez (R), Jordan’s fellow Ohioan who was targeted by Trump loyalists for voting to impeach the president and is not running for reelection, was ranked 13th.

Many of Jordan’s most belligerent colleagues in the “Big Lie” MAGA/Tea Party/Freedom Caucus wing of the Republican Party — including Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) — it’s worth noting, were also CEL bottom feeders. Placed among the 15 least effective members of Congress by InsideGov, Massie sought to legalize raw milk in 2019, despite a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warning about the health risks of human consumption. Earlier this month, a few days after a 15-year-old boy in Michigan killed four students with a gun his parents purchased for him, Massie tweeted a photo in which he appeared to be holding a machine gun, his youngest daughter an Uzi, his wife, three other children and a young man, assault-style rifles. Massie’s message: “Merry Christmas! Ps. Santa, please bring ammo.”

Neither the gun-toting Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), who “joked” that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), one of three Muslims in Congress, was a jihadist suicide bomber, nor conspiracy enthusiast Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who blasted Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), a fiscal conservative, as “the trash in the GOP Conference,” it seems safe to predict, will be cited as model legislators by the National Conference of State Legislatures or the CEL in the 117th Congress.

Politics has, of course, always been a contact sport. In a hyperpartisan context, supercharged by radio talk show and cable television performance artists and amplified by social media algorithms, many more politicians on both sides of the aisle have taken the gloves off.

Republican Know-Nothings are more numerous, visible and vocal.

Unchecked by party leaders, secure in safe congressional districts, unencumbered by fidelity to the truth, more interested in wielding power than improving the lives of their constituents, ready to settle scores if the GOP gains control of the House in 2022, they pose a clear and present danger to our democracy.

Glenn C. Altschuler is the Thomas and Dorothy Litwin Professor of American Studies at Cornell University. He is the co-author (with Stuart Blumin) of “Rude Republic: Americans and Their Politics in the Nineteenth Century.”

Tags Anthony Gonzalez Donald Trump Far-right politics House Freedom Caucus Ilhan Omar Jim Jordan Joe Biden Lauren Boebert Marjorie Taylor Greene Matt Gaetz Mo Brooks Nancy Mace Radical Right right-wing agitators Right-wing populism in the United States the big lie Thomas Massie trumpism

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