One of my favorite boyhood stories, “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” by Rudyard Kipling, features a mongoose, who, while in the process of saving his human host family from a family of cobras, is almost killed by a relatively small “snakeling” Kipling calls “Karait” (better known today as a krait). Karait’s poison is as lethal as a cobra’s, but, because of its size and stealth, it kills many more people than its larger and more showy cousin (a more familiar distinction might be made between a rattlesnake and a coral snake).
The Trumpified Republican Party is made up of the same two kinds of “snakes,” those that warn you before they strike and those that simply kill. The first group are those obvious “cobras” like Donald Trump, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, state Sen. Doug Mastriano of Pennsylvania, Carl Paladino and Blake Masters. These people spread their “hoods” (and sound their “rattles”) in colorful display (e.g., Paladino: “Merrick Garland should probably be executed”) so we “see” them coming.
The quiet ones are the vast majority of Republicans, including those who refuse to acknowledge that Joe Biden is our rightful president and that Trump is culpable in the attempted insurrection of Jan. 6. Most important and most damning, they are the ones who remain silent in the face of the clearly abhorrent words and actions of their “louder” cobra kin.
Because they don’t spread their “hoods” (or “rattle”), these “snakelings” may be less obvious than the “cobras,” but, precisely because of their silence and numbers, they are far more dangerous. Most importantly, I believe they share one goal: Kill democracy.