GOP Senator Mike Braun draws flak for backing BLM movement, is he preparing for a post-Trump order?
Braun said in the podcast that it is 'addressing an inequity that has not been solved from a grassroots level'
The Republican Party has played a second-fiddle role to President Donald Trump ever since his rise to prominence. The incumbent faced little challenge during his run for clinching the presidential nomination for the 2020 election. Not many in the red party aspired to beat the president in terms of popularity, at least till the US was hit by the coronavirus pandemic and the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement against racial injustice.
But now, one Republican leader has indicated that he is getting ready for a post-Trump America. A businessman from Jasper, the 66-year-old Braun sided overwhelmingly with President Trump on most of his votes (more than 95%), according to a FiveThirtyEight tracker and even defended the president during his impeachment trial earlier this year in which the senate acquitted him.
'Lifelong Republican' voted as a Democrat for 16 years
But that is only a part of the story. Despite calling himself a “conservative Republican” in his ads, Braun has voted as a Democrat in Indiana’s primary elections for more than a decade (1996-2012), according to public documents gathered by The Associated Press. This political behavior of Braun, who owns an auto parts distribution business, created a controversy along with his voting for a fuel tax rise a few years ago before he left the House to enter the race for a Senate position from Indiana. His critics often mocked him as “RINO”, a short form for “Republican In Name Only” for regularly voting as a Democrat. Braun’s camp tried to defend his voting for the Dems saying he did it to influence the outcome of the races and added that he has voted for the GOP in general elections. It hadn’t convinced many, however.
Braun now has courted another controversy and has been slammed by the supporters of Trump. On Monday, June 29, the senator expressed support for the BLM movement in a podcast and his stand was slammed by Trump empathizers like Tucker Carlson of Fox News. Carlson also slammed Braun last week for proposing a qualified immunity reform bill in the Senate saying it would make things easier for left-wing groups to sue police officers. Braun’s proposal was aimed at undoing the present system under which police officers remain immune from civil lawsuits under most circumstances. Braun became the first Republican to take up the issue which has been a key demand for protesters seeking police reforms in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May.
About supporting the BLM movement, Braun said in the podcast that it is “addressing an inequity that has not been solved from a grassroots level”.
“Before I ask you about qualified immunity and your attempts to water it down, I was very surprised by that endorsement that you gave on camera of Black Lives Matter,” Carlson told Braun, adding: “Black Lives Matter has, of course, called for the murder of police officers.”
A deep red-state senator supporting BLM movement
Braun’s support for the BLM Movement and other ideas like abolishing police and prisons has not been received well by other conservative quarters as well. Charlie Kirk, founder and president of Turning Point USA and chair of Students for Trump, slammed Braun in a tweet on Monday saying: “Senator Mike Braun from Indiana says he supports BLM—the abolish police, abolish prisons, destroy the family unit, pro-sex work Marxist organization He’s a Republican from a deep red state. This is why we are losing our country.”
Indiana has voted for a Democratic candidate in the presidential election only once since LBJ’s win in 1964 when Barack Obama narrowly beat John McCain in 2008.
Irrespective of his dubious voting records in the past, Braun has taken stances contradictory to Trump and that is something that the latter’s conservative support base doesn’t appreciate. The senator, who hails from the home state of Vice-President Mike Pence, said last week that teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg is inspiring. Trump, on the other hand, has been critical of the young green activist throughout because he is a non-believer in the phenomenon of climate change and even pulled the US out of the crucial Paris climate agreement months after coming to office.
Braun supports Greta Thunberg
“I would never want to diss someone like that. She’s talking about an issue that she ought to be sincerely concerned about because if we don’t, we’ll pay a consequence for it. So yes, I admire her,” The Washington Post quoted Braun, a self-described conservationist, as saying.
Braun might well be on the way to emerge as one of those GOP members who are ready to face a post-Trump era in the party. In April last year, he said that Indiana needed to stop looking up to the federal government for solving its problem and instead try to do it itself. For a representative from a deep red state, this is not something usual to hear and also from a person who has been known to be Trump loyalist since he took over as the senator last year.
Braun must be a fake Republican, his GOP colleagues must be thinking. But could he also be a Republican with a rare farsightedness?