Commentary: Here comes Mr. Jordan

Photo/Haiyun Jiang/The New York Times / Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, talks with aides on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023.

As one of its first acts after taking control of the House of Representatives, Republicans chose not to attack inflation, public health needs, or even the immigration crisis at the Southern border, but rather "approved a GOP resolution to create a select subcommittee that Republicans say will launch a far-reaching examination of the agencies and people that investigated Donald Trump."

The vote to create what Republicans provocatively called the "Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government," was 221 to 211, with every Democrat opposed, thus dispelling the notion that there is a "moderate" wing of the Republican Party.

Chosen to chair this even-handed probe into the persecution of the unfairly maligned former president and his acolytes is that noted advocate of sound governance and fair play, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, who is also the incoming chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

Democrats protested that Jordan and his committee would engage in the very conduct he claims to deplore. Jim McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat, said, "This committee is nothing more than a deranged ploy by the MAGA extremists who have hijacked the Republican Party and now want to use taxpayer money to push their far-right conspiracy nonsense."

"A ploy?" Jordan responded. "It's not a ploy when the Department of Justice treats parents as terrorists, moms and dads who are simply showing up at a school board meeting to advocate for their son or daughter."

There can be no doubt that Jordan chose to look away when the Trump administration was committing its worst abuses and when a mob of insurrectionists committed unspeakable acts after breaching the Capitol in the first large-scale attack on the building since the War of 1812.

But Jordan is good at looking away. When he was assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State from 1987 to 1995, he was accused of being involved in the cover-up of widespread sexual abuse of young men by then-team doctor Richard Strauss.

The most damning accusations came from Adam DiSabato, who was team captain in the early 1990s. DiSabato, whose brother Mike was among the first whistleblowers, testified to the Ohio House Civil Justice Committee that Jordan as well as other university officials knowingly ignored Strauss' systematic sexual abuse of wrestlers. In 2018, DiSabato claimed Jordan begged him to deny the story. He told USA Today, "Jim Jordan called me crying, groveling, begging me to go against my brother, begging me, crying for a half-hour. That's the kind of cover-up that's going on there."

Jordan has, of course, denied the accusations and has not been charged, although he was named in a pending class-action lawsuit.

The point here is to use both the new subcommittee and Jordan's appointment as its chairman as a reflection of the way in which today's Republican Party intends to govern.

While certainly both parties pander to their respective bases and promote legislation that can sometimes elevate popularity over practicality, for most of our recent history, party leaders have understood that a functioning democracy has certain limits and those in government must exercise some measure of self-discipline to prevent this fragile system from fracturing.

That discipline and the commitment to perpetuating our system of government seems to have been supplanted in today's Republican Party by an obsession to stay in power by any means possible.

Since Donald Trump's victory-for-nihilism election in 2016, many Americans have seemed to perceive the threat that Republicans either ignore or even welcome. For three consecutive national elections since, Republicans underperformed expectations because moderates of both parties pulled the lever for Democrats, albeit in many cases grudgingly.

In 2024, if we wish to ensure that our democracy survives, they will need to do so again.

The Fulcrum/Tribune Content Agency