Even Mitch McConnell admitted, after losing Senate seats in 2020, that "candidate quality matters." But recent events indicate that Republicans still haven't learned that lesson. On Tuesday, Rep. Jim Banks announced that he will run for the Indiana Senate seat being vacated by Mike Braun.
We NEED conservatives in Washington who aren’t afraid to fight Biden’s radical agenda.— Jim Banks (@Jim_Banks) January 17, 2023
That’s why I am running to represent our great state of Indiana in the United States Senate. Join my team: https://t.co/R8ntxo5pQt pic.twitter.com/4BPPQC7OxY
You might remember that Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to allow Banks to serve on the January 6th Committee because he had voted against certification of the 2020 presidential election. Other than that, and the fact that he recently served as chair of the Republican Study Committee, Banks hasn't made much of a name for himself in Congress.
Perhaps to distinguish himself, Banks made an announcement four days ago that he would form an "anti-woke caucus" in the House. It worked - he was able to garner a spot on Fox News. He also wrote an article about it at the right wing web site "American Mind" - a publication of the infamous Claremont Institute. His opening statement tells you all you need to know about the Republican agenda.
We no longer live in a normal America. The issues that Congress used to take up, like healthcare, the economy, or our withdrawal from Afghanistan, all regrettably pale in comparison to the creeping tyranny which nearly all Americans now feel.
The nation’s most powerful forces—our intelligence agencies, corporations, the press, our universities, and even our military—are all pressing further and further into uncharted territory from which it’s not clear America can return...
The most toxic part of this tyranny is its doctrine—“wokeness.”
Banks did us all a favor by saying the quiet part out loud. His party is no longer interested in things like healthcare, the economy, or foreign policy. Their only agenda is fighting the "woke wars."
For Banks, wokeness means that "all the so-called oppressor groups must be punished for their past and present alleged sins." For the oppressed, he says it means having a "privileged status." In other words, the straight white man (who calls Tom Cotton a model senator) thinks that striving for equality means that he is being punished and everyone else is gaining privilege. I can't help but think of that old saying: "when you're accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.”
It's also worth taking a look at what Banks thinks Congress can do about wokeness. He wants Republicans to rescind Biden's Executive Order On Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities. I guess it somehow threatens Banks that the president would want to ask every federal agency to "assess whether, and to what extent, its programs and policies perpetuate systemic barriers to opportunities and benefits for people of color and other underserved groups" and "develop policies and programs that deliver resources and benefits equitably to all." Here is who is included in the term underserved communities: "Black, Latino, and Indigenous and Native American persons, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other persons of color; members of religious minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) persons; persons with disabilities; persons who live in rural areas; and persons otherwise adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality." The only people excluded would be white, heterosexual, Christian, able-bodied, rich people who live in metro/urban areas. In other words, people like the congressman.
Another thing Banks wants Congress to do is use their oversight power to make woke companies "fear public exposure and congressional scrutiny." I almost dropped my laptop when I saw his example of a woke company...Wells Fargo. I'm old enough to remember that the Justice Department reached a $175 million settlement with that bank in 2012 because they "engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination against qualified African-American and Hispanic borrowers in its mortgage lending from 2004 through 2009." From court filings, we learned that Wells Fargo loan officers referred to black customers as “mud people,” and to the subprime loans they sold them as “ghetto loans.” But it didn't end there. Last April Wells Fargo was sued for race discrimination in their mortgage lending practices.
Of course, none of that bothers Rep. Banks. He's concerned that Wells Fargo is tying corporate loan interest rates to the company’s success in meeting internal diversity targets.
What we have is a company that is obviously still mired in systemic racism. But Banks wants to punish them for any effort they make to climb out of that hole. That is how he's gearing up to impress the MAGA crowd in his run for the Senate.
If Banks is an indication of where the GOP is going in preparation for 2024, they're making it clear that fighting to reverse the civil rights gains of the last 50 years is the core of their agenda - but some of us knew that already.