Unless you’re still in grade school, pledging allegiance to the flag probably isn’t something you do often (if ever). It’s a dumb ritual that’s introduced at a young age to affirm obedience and signal the start of a new day. To Matt Gaetz, though, the Pledge of Allegiance is so much more.
I proposed that we begin each meeting of the House Judiciary Committee by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) February 4, 2021
During the first meeting of the House Judiciary Committee, Gaetz put forth what he portrayed as a modest proposal to start every committee meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance. The request is silly on its face, but Gaetz’s reasoning is even worse. By standing together to recite the pledge “in the spirit of national unity,” he said, it would underscore the importance of Americans watching “members of Congress working together on some things.” Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance probably isn’t what most of the country has in mind in terms of Congress working together to solve problems, but it didn’t matter anyway. Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler rejected the request instantly.
Gaetz got exactly what he wanted out of the ordeal—a shareable clip he could use to paint Democrats as unpatriotic. It might’ve worked a little better if his office had bothered to cut the video before Nadler called Gaetz’s request “unnecessary” since the House starts every day by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and there’s no need to do it twice. But apparently Gaetz and his cronies were just so excited to post the clip that they didn’t think that far ahead.
For all its stupidity, though, Gaetz’s tweet signals the dawn of the golden age of political shitposting. Politicians have been manufacturing content out of meaningless stunts for years, but for those like Gaetz who invested all their political capital in Trumpism, it’s the only way forward. With Trump out of office, there’s no pretense for his acolytes to get anything done. Triggering the libs and making them look bad is the entire playbook, and anything to accomplish that goal will be rationalized—including making yourself look like a brainless crybaby on a serial basis. Gaetz is no stranger to acting like a complete idiot, but that lack of shame is exactly what will enable him to keep churning out these feigned offenses week after week until something sticks.
We’ve reached the stage in American politics where even pretending to help people takes a backseat to petty Pledge of Allegiance stunts and cries about cancel culture. Things were always headed in this direction anyway, but it’s fitting to have it set in after the shitposter-in-chief is out of the picture. It’s equal parts an homage to Trump and a reaction to what we created, but we’re equally to blame—arguments about QAnon in Congress and calling out hypocrisy are simply more captivating to the American political audience than things like the Saudi war in Yemen or even coronavirus at this point. As long as we continue eating the slop, they’ll continue feeding it to us.