Over the weekend, a tweet from the Oregon GOP sent parts of lefty Twitter into quite the tizzy. The tweet, which was solidly ratioed (as of this writing, it has 13,000 replies and 3,000 likes), is a reference to some ongoing drama at the statehouse in Oregon, and the text read, "Heavily armed militia lays siege to Oregon's Capitol as Senate Democrats cower in fear," over an image of men and women in hard hats heavily armed with protest signs reading "Save Our Jobs" and "Loggers Protect our Forests."
Heavily armed militia lays siege to Oregon's Capitol as Senate Democrats cower in fear. #orpol #orleg #capkillsjobs #hb2020 #Oregon11 #orcot pic.twitter.com/XQHCEb3D59
— Oregon GOP (@Oregon_GOP) June 23, 2019
Everyone from AOC to Roxane Gay to my 9th grade science teacher was appalled by this tweet, which they seemed to take as a tacit endorsement of armed revolt rather than what the tweet actually is. And it's not hard to see why considering the GOP's lack of interest in gun control and the fact that an armed militia really did take over a wildlife refuge in Oregon in 2016. As former Vermont Governor Howard Dean tweeted, "Why am I not surprised that the Oregon GOP openly embraces armed terrorists. The GOP is the enemy of democracy and the enemy of America." But while that very well may be true, that doesn't change the fact that the tweet is... ready? A fucking joke.
While I completely understand why liberals would assume that the photo attached to the tweet was a threat and/or an error (Think Progress published an entire post about how the GOP mistakenly attached a photo of loggers instead of an actual armed militia), turns out, Republican social media managers also know how to be ironic on Twitter. It's a joke, people, and if you remove the stick from your ass and/or frontal lobe you'll be able to see it.
While this joke failed to land, especially among those of us predisposed to hate the GOP, it's clearly a reference to state Democrats canceling plans to hold a legislative session on Saturday after several right-wing groups, including members of groups involved in the 2016 Malheur National Wildlife Refuge militia takeover, said they would show up to the Capitol and protest. Get it? The people are "heavily armed" with picket signs? The tweet is basically calling Democratic leaders wimps. Is it a good joke? I hate to say it, but kinda, yes, and the response to the tweet makes me think they kind of deserve it.
Ongoing protests at the Capitol in Salem—including the one actually pictured in the GOP's tweet, which took place last Wednesday—are related to Senate Democrat's attempts to pass an ambitious climate change law. The bill, called the Clean Energy Jobs Bill, would mandate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions across the electricity, transportation, and other sectors by 80 percent by 2050. It's a hugely significant bill, modeled on one that passed in California in 2013, and Republicans, particularly from the eastern part of the state, fucking hate it, arguing that the law would hurt manufacturing and timber jobs as well as increase the cost of living in the state. It would also, according to an assessment prepared by the Berkeley Economic Advising and Research for the state Carbon Policy Office, grow the economy and add about 50,000 new jobs by 2050, but the GOP has conveniently ignored that little stat.
The Clean Energy Jobs Bill, which has already passed in the House, has a lot of support among Democrats and people who give a shit about climate change, but the response demonstrates the vast divide between the two parties in Oregon (along with everywhere else). Because Dems have the majority and the bill is likely to pass, a number of Republican legislators have actually fled the state to avoid voting because Senate rules require a quorum before a vote can take place. If this seems undemocratic to you, it sure as shit is, but it's good to see everyone freaking out about what really matters: A joke they clearly didn't get.