GOP Congressmember Jim Banks— A Far Right Up-and-Coming Republican “Star” May 22, 2022
Please pay attention to the three “C in C’s” that the POTUS (President of the United States) is responsible for. “C in C” Number 1—Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution states that the President is Commander- in- Chief of our armed forces. As Commander-in-Chief, Biden decides when and where to send our troops to E. European countries like Poland to keep Putin’s attacks in Ukraine from spreading. In this role, he also authorized military shipments to quickly bring in record time needed baby formula from Germany (cnn.com, Sandoval & Beech, 5/22/22).
“C in C” Number 2—although not in the Constitution, a modern-day POTUS must be the nation’s Comforter-in-Chief. In 1995, after the horrific white supremacist/militia bombing at the Oklahoma City federal building, President Bill Clinton comforted and rallied a stricken city and nation.
“C in C” Number 3—Since the time of TR (Theodore Roosevelt), our POTUS is generally understood to have the opportunity to speak out strongly on any issue, what TR termed the “bully pulpit” (Oxford Dictionary of American Political Slang, 2006). Let’s call this “C in C” Number 3—Communicator-in-Chief.
A mad gunman, bragging about his white supremacy and anti-Semitic views, traveled hundreds of miles from Conklin, NY to a black neighborhood in Buffalo. He “cased” the area to determine where he could cause the most chaos and carnage (yes, real American carnage, Demagogue Donald). On 5/14/2022, that psycho then deliberately gunned down 10 African Americans at the Tops East Buffalo Grocery Store. This extremist wacko’s 180 page “manifesto” was full of the malignant “great replacement theory.” That “belief,” originally carried by extremist social media and now part of the mainstream because of Fox News’ pundit Tucker Carlson and several GOP legislators, holds that the elite class, sometimes manipulated by Jews, wants to “replace and disempower white Americans (See nytimes.com, Karni, 5/16/22, cnn.com, Caldwell & Moshtaghian, 5/17/22).” On 5/17/2022, President Biden, along with his wife Jill, visited a memorial site in Buffalo for the victims. President Biden and his wife bowed their heads in a moment of silence (cnn.com, Vazquez & Sullivan, 5/17/22). President Biden spoke fondly of each of the shooter’s victims and met with their relatives (nytimes.com, Kanno-Youngs & Baker, 5/17/22). President Biden was fulfilling the role of Comforter-in-Chief.
Finally, Biden used his Communicator-in-Chief “bully pulpit” role to emotionally attack white supremacy. His terms against this cancer were the strongest ones a POTUS has ever used. Biden did not hesitate to call the deadly Buffalo mass shooting an act of “domestic terrorism.” He aptly declared, “White supremacy is a poison, it’s a poison…running through our body politic.” He added, “silence is complicity. And it’s been (white supremacy) allowed to grow and fester right before our eyes. No more, no more. We need to say as clearly and as forcefully as we can that the ideology of White supremacy has no place in America (cnn.com, Vazquez et al, 5/17/22).” Biden stated, “Violence inflicted into the service of hate and the vicious thirst for power that defines one group of people being inherently inferior to any other group, a hate that through media and politics, the internet, has radicalized angry, alienated, lost and isolated individuals into falsely believing that they will be replaced (nytimes.com, Kanno-Youngs & Baker, 5/17/22).” Biden declared, “I call on you to reject the lie. I call on all Americans to reject the lie, and I condemn those who spread the lie for power, political gain and for profit (nytimes.com, Kanno-Youngs et al).” Biden was attacking the same kind of extremism that he condemned in Charlottesville, VA when neo-Nazis and other white supremacists in 2017 carried tiki- torches and yelled, “Jews will not replace us.” Trump called this group “very fine people.” Biden stated that the fatal Charlottesville race riot drove him to run for president and undertake a “battle for the soul of America (See nytimes.com, 5/17/22).”
Biden is absolutely on point as Communicator-in-Chief in his fight against white supremacism. America, what took so long? After OK City in 1995, too many members of the GOP Congress called the attack one of a “lone wolf” and did not want to investigate further. In a 2019 conversation with former Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano, Biden recalled the Obama administration decision to rescind a report warning that U.S. military veterans were vulnerable to recruitment by extremists. Biden thought Ms. Napolitano was “prescient in talking about right-wing extremism and violence in America motivated by white supremacists (nytimes.com, Kanno-Youngs & Baker).” And the white supremacist violence continued. We have since had the El Paso mass attack on Mexican Americans, the Tree of Life Pittsburgh Synagogue massacre and other similar incidents. The “replacement” ideology behind these attacks was basically ignored. Enough is enough as Biden has recognized. The Buffalo massacre is being investigated by the Justice Dept. as a hate crime and more steps are being taken to curb such domestic terrorism (cnn.com).
Few GOPers remain willing to attack these white supremacists and their sick “replacement” theory. Once again, Liz Cheney (R-WY) was the only GOPer, along with Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) who took on the GOP’s silence. On 5/16/2022, Rep. Cheney stated that House Republican Leaders had “enabled white nationalism, white supremacy, and antisemitism.” In a Twitter post, Cheney called on her party’s leadership to “renounce and reject these views and those who hold them (Karni, nytimes.com).” Don’t hold your breath for a strong GOP condemnation or for Tucker Carlson and his Fox-Republican propaganda network to do anything about denouncing “replacement” theory which he has peddled in over 400 commentaries. Cheney was ousted in 2021 from her post as GOP conference chair. Her replacement, third-ranking GOPer Elise Stefanik (R-NY) is, after the Buffalo massacre, under scrutiny for campaign advertisements she has circulated that play on the themes of the white supremacist “great replacement theory.” In 2021 on Facebook, Cong. Stefanik accused “radical Democrats” of planning a “PERMANENT ELECTION INSURRECTION.” That ad went on to state that “Their (the Democrats’) plan to grant amnesty to 11 MILLION illegal immigrants will overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington.” Stefanik, formerly a protégé of “W” Bush and former Speaker Paul Ryan, has become an “ultra MAGA” warrior. She sounds nativist themes that animate the GOP “red meat” base. Stefanik ridiculously attacked Biden for providing infant formula to undocumented immigrants while “American mothers” suffer amid a nationwide formula shortage. Stefanik additionally attacked Democrats and the usual “pedo grifters,” a baseless pro-Trump QAnon conspiracy theory that claims there is a Satan-worshipping cabal of liberal pedophiles (nytimes.com, Karni, 5/16/22). People who are close to Cong. Stefanik believe her extreme right-wing turn is an attempt to keep up with GOP Indiana Cong. Jim Banks. She is in a competition with him. Banks, the current chair of the Republican Study Committee, the most dominant and influential bloc in the House GOP caucus, is going from a movement conservative into a Trump acolyte. Stefanik clearly fears him (nytimes.com, Karni, 5/16/22). Who is Jim Banks?
Third-term GOP Congressmember Jim Banks (42) represents Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District (CD). The Hoosier 3rd is located in the northeastern corner of Indiana. Fort Wayne is its one major city. Manufacturing is the key economic pillar in the Fort Wayne area. A $150 million biodiesel complex opened in Claypool and has the largest soybean processing plant in the U.S. The local GM assembly plant employs 4,700 workers on three shifts. The Indiana 3rd was settled by New England Yankees and German immigrants. The 3rd CD also includes a mix of Amish, Central Americans, Bosnians, Somalis, and the nation’s largest number of Burmese refugees. The Hoosier 3rd still remains a dripping “Red” area. The latest Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI) gives this district an R+19 score. Trump clobbered Biden in 2020 by 30 points (Cohen & Cook 2022 Political Almanac).
Jim Banks was born and continues to reside in Columbia City, Indiana, near Fort Wayne. A 2004 graduate of Indiana University, Banks became president of the College Republicans. In 2013, Banks received an M.B.A. from Grace College and Seminary. He worked in Fort Wayne as a real estate broker. Banks was elected to the IN State Senate where he served from 2010-2016, and claimed he had the most conservative record. In 2014, Banks took a leave of absence and served eight months at NATO headquarters in Afghanistan. From 2012 to the present, Banks served in the U.S. Navy Reserve. In 2016, when the 3rd CD’s GOP Rep. ran for an open Senate seat, Banks ran for that open House seat. With the help of $700,000 from the right-wing Club for Growth and other conservative groups, Banks won a close primary race. In the general election, Banks clobbered his Democratic rival by 47 points, taking 70% of the vote He was handily re-elected in 2018 and 2020 getting 65% and 68% of the vote respectively (Cohen & Cook 2022).
In the House, Cong. Banks voted with Demagogue Donald 92.6% of the time (projects.fivethirtyeight.com). From 2019-2020, Banks had a composite 80% conservative v. a 20% liberal record (Cohen & Cook 2022). As chair of the very conservative and influential Republican Study Committee that emphasizes limited government, traditional values, defense, and balancing the budget, Banks follows three former Hoosiers who have run this committee-- VP Mike Pence, extremist Dan Burton, and former Club for Growth head David McIntosh (Cohen & Cook 2022). Cong. Banks voted to repeal Obamacare (Francisco, B., 4/22/17, journalgazette.net). He voted for the regressive top 1% Trump tax cut (Almukhtar, S. nytimes.com, 12/19/17). In 2/2021, Banks and several other GOPers skipped votes and enlisted others to vote for them against Biden’s COVID relief bill. Banks and his fellows cited the ongoing COVID pandemic. Banks and other members were actually attending the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) being held at the same time as their absences. The Campaign for Accountability, an ethics watchdog group, filed a complaint against Banks and his fellow lawmakers with the House Ethics Committee and requested an investigation (journalgazette.net). Banks called climate change “largely leftist propaganda (scientificamerican.com, Waldman, S.).” Banks opposes federal funding of abortion and is against Planned Parenthood. He stands against same-sex marriage (Francisco, journalgazette.net, WRTV, 6/05/18).
After Biden won the 2020 election and Donald refused to concede while claiming fraud, Banks was one of 126 Republican House members to sign an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit filed at the Supreme Court contesting the results. The High Court refused to hear the case (nytimes.com, Liptak, 12/11/20). Banks objected to the certification of the election results (axios.com, Swan). After the 1/06/2021 deadly Capitol attack, Banks expressed support for a bipartisan commission to investigate the riot but later changed his mind (huffpost.com, Delaney, 5/20/21). When this bipartisan commission proposal died in the Senate, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) set up a January 6 Select Committee (cnn.com). Speaker Pelosi objected to GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s assigning far right Cong. Banks and OH GOPer Cong. Jim Jordan to this committee (“This Will Not Pass,” Martin & Burns, 2022).” Pelosi accused Banks and Jordan of amplifying Trump’s false voter fraud claims. Banks absurdly claimed Pelosi was at fault for the 1/06 insurrection and was using the commission to cover up her role (Broadwater & Fandos, nytimes.com, 7/22/21, washingtonpost.com, 7/27/21). In 10/2021, Cong. Liz Cheney (R-WY), vice-chair of the Jan. 6 Select Committee, revealed that Banks has been sending letters to federal agencies, claiming to be the top minority member of that committee, even though he had been rejected from this group (thehill.com, Beitsch,R., 10/21/21). Banks and Cheney are not on the best of terms. When Cheney was ousted from her top GOP leadership post, extremely ambitious Cong. Banks wanted to take her place. However, Minority Leader McCarthy and Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) had already decided to put Stefanik in this position (“This Will Not Pass”). Stefanik, therefore, must watch her “back” because Banks’ political daggers are constantly out for her. Only by out “MAGA-ING” Banks will Stefanik be able to stay in power. Banks himself is a backer of the “great replacement theory.” On 10/1/21, he tweeted on Twitter that, “The Biden Border Crisis is intentional (americanprogressaction.org, 5/18/22).”
In his “royal dripping Red” IN district, Banks can keep getting re-elected as long as he wants. Right now, as part of the GOP House minority, he can only be a provocateur. However, if Democrats don’t show up in droves plus for the midterm elections in 11/2022, Banks will land a starring role harassing Biden, Pelosi, and fellow Democrats in a GOP House Trumpist-cult majority. We must, therefore, vote, vote, and vote. Our democracy, a woman’s right to choose, and fighting domestic terrorism all depend upon our strongly showing up at the ballot box.