Approximately one month.
That's how long Washington Republicans could pretend to have an adult response to this pandemic before hauling off and headlining a 2,500-person rally on the Capitol steps, where some of its members flat-out called for open rebellion against Gov. Jay Inslee's "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order, a scientifically informed policy designed to slow the spread of a deadly virus.
If you can remember all the way back to March 23, leaders from both parties announced their full support of that very same policy in a joint statement. "We encourage all Washingtonians to follow the new guidance of Gov. Jay Inslee and Secretary of Health John Wiesman," wrote Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig (D-Spokane), Speaker of the House Laurie Jinkins (D-Tacoma), Senate Minority Leader Mark Schoesler (R-Ritzville) and House Minority Leader JT Wilcox (R-Yelm). "The guidance in 'Stay Home, Stay Healthy' is critical to limiting the spread of COVID-19 and helping flatten the curve of infections. Our behavior could mean life or death for Washingtonians."
In the letter, they soberly admit that Washingtonians might have to deal with significant pain for "weeks and months to come" due to the "impact these decisions have on businesses, families, and individuals across the state."
And now here's the tune they were singing on Sunday, April 19, on the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing:
At the protest, Washington State Rep. Robert Sutherland called for the start of "a revolution," then came back to say it would be a "revolution of love," then cited the the Revolutionary War, then said that's not their intent, then said the people have a moral obligation... pic.twitter.com/H1r0SJyTwc
— Mike Baker (@ByMikeBaker) April 19, 2020
The man accusing Gov. Inslee of abusing Washingtonians in that clip is Rep. Robert Sutherland, who represents a large part of Snohomish County, which currently boasts 2,101 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 94 deaths, the second-highest rate in the state.
Nobody knows how widely this virus has spread in America. Though Washington has seen a decline in the number of COVID-19 infections over the last two weeks—thanks largely to strict physical distancing mandates—Seattle & King County public health officer Dr. Jeff Duchin said last week "it’s likely existing restrictions will need to remain in place at least another month," according to the Seattle Times. We don't have enough swabs, of all things, to run the tests we have, and we need to triple the number of tests we're doing, which will be all the more difficult without help from the federal government. We don't have a vaccine or any approved treatments. And yet Republicans are calling for a revolution because they don't have the wherewithal to stop buying guns for another few weeks. Incredible.
But I wouldn't expect Rep. Sutherland to believe any of this science. A quick glance at his Facebook feed reveals him to be somewhat of a COVID truther. Last week he referred to the pandemic as "this year's flu season," and he dismissed the virus as a simple "flu" in two other posts.
Incidentally, Sutherland also thinks he nearly died last Wednesday after waking up with "a terrible pain inside that prevented [him] from breathing." In a Facebook post he claims he went to the emergency room, and "long story short, I'm still here."
Judging by the number of music videos he posts to his social media feed, he's also a huge fan of Disturbed, a nu metal band who rose in popularity after their 2000 debut, The Sickness, blew up and spent over 100 weeks on the US Billboard 200 chart. The band is currently on a 20th Anniversary tour in celebration of the album, and they still plan to bring The Sickness to White River Amphitheatre in Auburn this September. I'm not totally unconvinced that Sutherland's rebellious yawping isn't purely an emotional response to the prospect of his favorite band having to cancel their worldwide tour.
Anyhow, this ardent Disturbed fan wasn't the only Republican representative rallying thousands in Olympia during the middle of a pandemic. The Seattle Times spotted GOP gubernatorial candidates Tim Eyman, Joshua Freed, and Phil Fortunato among the tightly packed crowd. They noted that Rep. Jim Walsh "cast the rally in revolutionary terms" during his speech. And Sen. Doug Ericksen, a shill for the Cambodian dictatorship, is already coming out strong against mass testing and tracking, which are the two systems public health officials agree we need in place before we can lift stay home orders.
The fact that other Republican leaders have yet to condemn their colleagues is a cowardice we could see coming. Last session, Republicans cowered in their offices as rifle-toting goons walked into the Capitol building to yell at Republican House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox for supporting an independent investigation of domestic terrorism claims lodged against Rep. Matt Shea—claims which, the investigator later found, absolutely held up to scrutiny.
Nevertheless, every single Republican refused to boot the domestic terrorist from the statehouse. Though they initially kicked him out of their caucus, they ultimately accepted and protected him, allowing him to lead the floor debate on the sex ed bill last session. They let this fringe element fester, and now they're actively whipping it up into a froth while endangering lives and potentially undoing weeks of sacrifice from millions of Washingtonians. If only Democrats were this frightened of the fringe elements on the left, they might actually pass a major climate change bill, or some progressive taxation, or meaningfully address the housing crisis!
In any event, this idiotic display will likely lead to some of the most tragic self-owns ever recorded on this side of the pond. But it didn't have to be this way. Yesterday in Israel, while these revolutionary cosplayers were standing shoulder to shoulder to hear Jim Walsh try to complete a sentence, over 2,000 people filled Tel Aviv's Rabin Square to protest "what they consider the erosion of democracy under the coronavirus-era government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu," according to Axios. But unlike many of the bright bulbs in Olympia, they did so while also following physical distancing guidelines.
But anything to own the libs, right?