Yesterday, the North Carolina House swore in a new member from Gaston County. Donnie Loftis replaced Dana Bumgardner who passed away recently. Loftis is a former county commissioner who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. Democrats walked out of the chamber when he was sworn in. Loftis is part of the disloyal opposition, people willing to overthrow the government instead of accept the outcome of an election.
Many Republicans consider Loftis a hero for trying to overturn the election. Others apparently don’t care about his act of sedition. Republicans are defending him instead of condemning him. Loyalty to the party supersedes loyalty to the Constitution.
Loftis has tried to downplay his role in the attack on the Capitol. He issued a statement last week saying, “…I peacefully exercised my first amendment rights in front of the US Capitol, I was surprised and disappointed to watch others storm the entrance as violence ensued. I had absolutely zero involvement in the rioting and categorically condemn the storming of our Capitol building that day.”
But that’s not what he said at the time of the attack. Instead, he bragged in a Facebook post that he was gassed three times and was at the door when the Capitol was breached. He was clearly proud of his accomplishments and acquaintances were cheering him on. He said that he was fulfilling his oath as a soldier to protect the country from threats and considered certifying the election one of those threats.
Republicans can nominate whoever they want to have appointed to fill an unexpired term, but choosing a guy like Loftis is telling. Not only is Loftis less than honest about his role on Jan. 6, he’s clearly dumb enough and gullible enough to believe The Big Lie. He lacks the critical thinking skills to serve in the General Assembly. Now, the GOP can add an insurrectionist to their legislative clown car to join neo-Confederate Larry Pittman and conspiracy theorists like Jeff McNeely.
Republicans, of course, are defending Loftis. They stick by his claim that he was just exercising his First Amendment right to protest, but if he was telling the truth that he was at the Capitol door when it was breeched, he was part of the vanguard that toppled barricades and overran Capitol police trying to protect the building and the Members of Congress inside. If he really got teargassed, he was in the midst of the fray, not peaceably assembled. He was either lying then or lying now. He had little reason to lie then, so I suspect he’s lying now.
Last month, Republicans were defending Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson’s clearly homophobic and bigoted remarks. This week, they are defending an insurrectionist. They’ve become a collection of misfits and misanthropes who care little about the tradition of democracy and everything about the consolidation of power. Their defense of Loftis is more evidence of their deterioration into an authoritarian party.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Mills spent 20 years as a political and public affairs consultant.