Liz Cheney’s problems pile up

“Liz Cheney was once considered the future of the GOP. Now she’s fighting to keep her political career alive.

After voting to impeach Donald Trump last week, the highest-ranking woman in the House GOP finds herself at risk of losing her leadership post; staring down a pro-Trump primary challenge; and censured by some of her own party back home in Wyoming.

The most immediate threat to Cheney — a push by Trump loyalists to oust her as conference chair — has gained momentum inside the House GOP, although the process is complicated and could still sputter out. But at least 107 Republicans, or just over a majority, have communicated to the leaders of that effort that they would support removing Cheney from leadership on a secret ballot, according to multiple GOP sources involved in the effort. Others are threatening to boycott future conference meetings if she remains in power.”

“If Cheney does lose her post, it will be the latest sign that the Trumpification of the Republican Party isn’t stopping anytime soon, even after the ex-president flew off to Mar-a-Lago with a disgraced legacy in Washington. Some say the Cheney fight has already become a proxy battle for the heart and soul of the splintered GOP.”

Republicans own this

“On the morning of January 6, first-term Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Colorado Republican chiefly notable for her support for the QAnon conspiracy theory, tweeted that the efforts to overturn the 2020 election results amounted to a new American Revolution.

“Today is 1776,” she wrote.

It turned out that describing Wednesday as a violent revolution was more apt than Boebert may have intended. Several hours later, on the heels of a speech by the president decrying the 2020 election as stolen, a pro-Trump mob descended on the US Capitol, overwhelming Capitol Police and storming the building. Trump supporters waved Confederate flags and seized control of the Senate chambers; police drew their guns. At least four people died as a result of the chaos.

Blaming President Trump for this violence is, at this point, stating the obvious. He has been inciting his supporters for weeks, telling them that the election has been stolen and they need to stand up to save freedom. If you really believe that — took what the president said seriously — why wouldn’t you take dramatic action?

But the blame needs to go beyond Trump and land squarely on the Republican Party itself — an institution that, for decades, employed a political strategy that sowed the seeds of an uprising against the American state.

The animating force of modern Republicanism is this: Democratic Party rule is an existential threat to America and is by definition illegitimate. It is a belief that explains much of what we’ve seen from the GOP in the past few decades, the glue that binds together Republicans ranging from shitposters in the QAnon fever swamps to much of the GOP congressional caucus.”

“their delegitimizing rhetoric has been the fuel of the conservative movement for many, many years now. Trump’s presidency, and the violence with which it is ending, represents the logical next step for the modern GOP — and where it goes from here will determine our future as a democracy.”

“In 2010, during the height of Tea Party fervor, then-Senate candidate Sharron Angle (R-NV) told talk radio host Lars Larson that she believed Americans might need to take up arms against the tyranny of Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress”

“Angle’s story is illuminating. Initially, she ran as an insurgent, casting herself as the rock-ribbed alternative to a weak, corrupt Republican establishment. The party actually tried to stop her, but she was embraced by the GOP once she won the Republican primary in Nevada. The party held a glitzy fundraiser in Washington for Angle several months after the “Second Amendment remedies” comment.

Hardly a relic of the Tea Party era, it’s a story that’s emblematic of the contemporary GOP. The party leadership has created an institution where people like Angle can win primaries; though leaders may resist extremists at times, they end up admitting them as members in good standing when it becomes clear that the choice in a given election is either a right-wing radical or a Democrat. As a result, there’s a one-way ratchet toward an increasingly extreme party, one that has convinced itself over time that Democratic rule is so dangerous that getting in bed with anti-democratic radicals is preferable.

There are at least three critical features of the GOP as an institution that have allowed this process to go on as it has.

First, there is the argument, offered by mainstream Republicans at the highest levels, that freedom itself is on the ballot: that the Democratic agenda is so catastrophic that it might spell the end of America as we know it.”

“This rhetoric might not be so bad if it weren’t for the second prong of the problem: the alternative conservative media ecosystem that disseminates those messages.

From practically the inception of the modern conservative movement in the 1950s, a central tenet has been that the mainstream media is irredeemably biased against them — an agent of liberalism, not to be trusted. The conservative response has been to relentlessly delegitimize the media in their public discourse and to construct alternative media institutions for its base to consume.

This created space for extreme voices who, out of sincere belief or rank opportunism, chose to peddle dangerous falsehoods.”

“If you are a rank-and-file Republican, the kind of person who listens to your party’s elected officials and friendly media outlets, you have been marinating in anti-democratic beliefs for years: that Democrats are fundamentally hostile to the American way of life, that people telling you otherwise cannot be trusted, that you have an obligation to fight against tyranny on your own.

In a 2020 survey, 51 percent of Republicans agreed with the claim that “the traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it.””

“The day after President Trump incited a mob to attack the Capitol, he called in to a Republican National Committee winter meeting. The assembled Republicans did not greet the president with horror or anger; instead, he was met with cheers.

Of course, not every Republican is as corrupted as the ones on that call. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) voted for Trump’s impeachment and has gone after him in the day since the attack on Capitol Hill. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has called for a second impeachment after the mob.

But even the “responsible” leaders have often been complicit. Lest we forget, Romney courted Trump’s endorsement during his 2012 presidential run — while Trump was in the midst of his birther crusade against Obama. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), famous for his thumbs-down vote on Trump’s Obamacare repeal proposal, is the man who unleashed Palin on the world by making her his vice presidential pick in 2008.”

“They knew who they were enabling. In 2016, Ted Cruz called Trump “utterly amoral” and a “pathological liar.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) described him as a “race-baiting xenophobic religious bigot.” And Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), in comments that proved prescient, describes him as someone who was inciting violence among his supporters”

“The dangers of Trump were obvious to these men. But they chose to enable him after his victory anyway, much in the way their party chose to embrace Sarah Palin and Sharron Angle and Glenn Beck and all the other extremists who have proven useful to it. The Republican establishment created the conditions for Wednesday’s violence and chaos, and these conditions will persist even if Trump is removed prematurely. QAnon supporters are now sitting in Congress; Newsmax, a more unhinged version of Fox, has only grown in recent months; Trump was greeted by applause by House Republicans Thursday morning.

Just hours after her 1776 tweet, Rep. Boebert tweeted fearfully about the attack on Congress. “We were locked in the House chambers,” she said, as if the chickens weren’t coming home to roost.

But the fact that they don’t really want a violent uprising doesn’t mean their most committed supporters feel the same way. Republicans — not just Donald Trump, but the entire political movement — own that mob. If they do not change course, they will own the next one, too.”

How Georgia Turned Blue

“how did Georgia go from light red to blue — or at the very least, purple?

The answer is pretty simple: The Atlanta area turned really blue in the Trump era. Definitions differ about the exact parameters of the Atlanta metropolitan area, but 10 counties1 are part of a governing collaborative called the Atlanta Regional Commission. Almost 4.7 million people live in those 10 counties, or around 45 percent of the state’s population.

Until very recently, the Atlanta area wasn’t a liberal bastion. There was a Democratic bloc that long controlled the government within the city limits of Atlanta and a Republican bloc that once dominated the suburbs”

“suburban Atlanta is trending blue”

Mitch McConnell and Several Other GOP Senators Finally Acknowledge Biden’s Victory

“Rep. Paul Mitchell (R–Mich.), a retiring congressman who congratulated Biden on November 7, announced yesterday that he was “disaffiliating from the Republican Party” out of disgust at its humoring of Trump’s increasingly desperate explanations for losing the election. “The president and his legal team have failed to provide substantive evidence of fraud or administrative failure on a scale large enough to impact the outcome of the election,” Mitchell wrote in a letter to Republican Nation Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel. “It is unacceptable for political candidates to treat our election system as though we are a third-world nation and incite distrust of something so basic as the sanctity of our vote….If Republican leaders collectively sit back and tolerate unfounded conspiracy theories and ‘stop the steal’ rallies without speaking out for our electoral process, which the Department of Homeland Security said was ‘the most secure in American history,’ our nation will be damaged….With the leadership of the Republican Party and our Republican conference in the House actively participating in at least some of these efforts, I fear long-term harm to our democracy.””

The Republican Party is an authoritarian outlier

“The Republican Supreme Court power grab after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death should be shocking, given the naked hypocrisy involved. The only reason it isn’t is that we’ve come to expect this from Republicans — and not just under Trump.

Republicans shut down the government in the 1990s and impeached President Bill Clinton over far less than what Trump has done in office. Under Obama, they fanned the flames of birtherism, held the global economy hostage to force spending cuts, and elevated obstructionism to the level of governing principle.

At the state level, they have rewritten electoral rules to block Democrats from voting and seized power from Democratic governors after they have won elections. Just this week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis proposed a bill that would effectively criminalize anti-police violence protests — and protect drivers who ran over protesters with their cars.

This kind of radicalism is not at all normal — at least, when compared to center-right parties in other advanced democracies.

Experts on comparative politics say the GOP is an extremist outlier, no longer belonging in the same conversation with “normal” right-wing parties like Canada’s Conservative Party (CPC) or Germany’s Christian Democratic Party (CDU). Instead, it more closely resembles more extreme right parties — like Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz in Hungary or Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP in Turkey — that have actively worked to dismantle democracy in their own countries.”

“Over the past decade and a half, Republicans have shown disdain for procedural fairness and a willingness to put the pursuit of power over democratic principles. They have implemented measures that make it harder for racial minorities to vote, render votes from Democratic-leaning constituencies irrelevant, and relentlessly blocked Democratic efforts to conduct normal functions of government.”

“For Republicans, the process of moving toward anti-democracy has taken decades rather than a single election. There was never a single unified GOP plan to lock out Democrats, akin to the way that Fidesz intentionally remade the Hungarian political system after winning the country’s 2010 election. There is no authoritarian plot behind the GOP’s recent maneuvers, and no secret plan to end elections or declare martial law.

What there is, instead, is systematic disinterest in behaving according to the democratic rules of the game. The GOP views the Democrats as so illegitimate and dangerous that they are willing to employ virtually any tactic that they can think of in order to entrench their own advantage. This is perhaps the party’s core animating ideology, at every level: we must win because the Democrats cannot be given power.”

Why this former Republican says the party must be burned to the ground

“Well, I would’ve said back in the Dark Ages, like four years ago, that 90 percent of the party would agree on some core principles. We could differ on issues here and there, but we all mostly believed in the importance of character, in personal responsibility, in free trade, in being tough on Russia, in fiscal sanity and legal immigration.

What gets me is not just that the party has drifted away from all of those things, because sometimes parties do that. It’s that we’re actively against all these things now. I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything like that in modern politics and I really don’t think we’ve seen anything like it in American politics. Just a complete moral and policy collapse of a party.”

“this stuff goes all the way back to the “Southern Strategy” in the Nixon White House. Race is the original sin of the Republican Party and, again, you can see how this stretches back to 1964. There was obviously a racist element to the party before. I mean, now we view William Buckley as this lost erudite voice, but we forget that Buckley started out as a stone-cold racist defending segregation. His second book was defending McCarthyism. He later recanted and wrote eloquent stuff about why he was wrong. But that element was always there.

I never thought the party was perfect. I freely admit that I was a campaign guy. I admit it, it’s just the truth. I never worked in government. I never really thought a lot about it. I was always in the business of electing candidates and thought of my role like a defense lawyer. In retrospect, I wish had thought about it more.”

“I would look at Newt Gingrich as part of the dark side, but I don’t think that was true of George Bush. I really don’t. I think that he felt very passionately about expanding the party. He felt very passionately about the party appealing more to Hispanics. He really cared about education.

If you go back and you read his acceptance speech in 2000, it reads like a document from a lost civilization. It really is about humility and service and helping others. And I don’t think that was phony. I think Bush is incapable of phoniness. I think what you see is what you get with him. And that’s I think what he believed, and I think he believed he could take the party in that direction.”

“I look back at 2016 and see that a lot of people were wrong about Trump. It’s very hard to find anybody who was more wrong than me. I didn’t think he’d win the primary, I didn’t think he’d win the general. And I realized in retrospect it’s because I didn’t want to believe that. I didn’t want to believe this party that I’ve worked in would nominate this guy who’s talking about having sex with his daughter in public. I didn’t think the party would do that. I was an idiot, but I didn’t. And Trump made all of this impossible to ignore.

So then there was the stage that a lot of people went through, and I went through for a while I guess, saying this isn’t really the Republican Party. But I don’t see how you can sustain that. It’s like trying to pretend that the Confederacy wasn’t about slavery. The party has abandoned any positive aspirations or values it might have had.”

The 2020 Republican Convention Doesn’t Have a Platform—It Has Trump’s Pet Peeves

“The Republican Party has no new official platform for 2020. Instead, the Republican National Committee is pledging to “enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda” and “will adjourn without adopting a new platform until the 2024 Republican National Convention.””

“”Trump ran in 2016 and swamped a sprawling Republican field of more conventional conservatives” and “in doing so, he didn’t merely win the nomination and embark on the road to the White House,” suggests Gerald F. Seib in a weekend Wall Street Journal essay.
“He turned Republicans away from four decades of Reagan-style, national-greatness conservatism to a new gospel of populism and nationalism.

In truth, this shift had been building for a while: Pat Buchanan, Ross Perot, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, the Tea Party, an increasingly bitter immigration debate—all were early signs that a new door was opening. Mr. Trump simply charged through it. He understood better than those whom he vanquished in the primaries that the Republican Party has undergone profound socioeconomic changes; it has been washed over by currents of cultural alienation and a feeling that the old conservative economic prescriptions haven’t worked for its new working-class foot soldiers.

Now, as Republicans prepare to nominate Mr. Trump for re-election at their truncated convention this week, there is simply no way to put Trumpism back into the bottle. If the president wins this fall (and even more so if he loses), the question that Republicans in general and conservatives in particular face is simple and stark: How to adapt their gospel so that it fits in the age of Trump?

As it happens, a new and younger breed of conservatives has set out to do precisely that, often by stepping away from strict free-market philosophies.””

Laura Loomer, the anti-Muslim congressional candidate praised by Trump, explained

“Laura Loomer is a former contributor to the conspiracy site Infowars and a self-described “proud Islamophobe.” She is famous for, among other things, spreading conspiracy theories about mass shootings and demanding that Uber and Lyft stop allowing Muslims to work as drivers. She has been banned from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Paypal, Venmo, and GoFundMe for violating their policies on hate speech.

On Tuesday night, she won the Republican nomination for Congress in Florida’s 21st Congressional District — the stretch of southeastern Florida where President Trump is registered to vote. And on Wednesday morning, the president voiced his support, tweeting about Loomer’s victory five separate times.

“Great going Laura,” Trump wrote in one tweet. “You have a great chance against a Pelosi puppet!”

Loomer does not, in fact, have a great chance. FL-21 has been represented by a Democrat since 2013 and is generally seen as a safe seat for the party. It would likely take a massive Republican wave election for Loomer to unseat incumbent Rep. Lois Frankel, which seems exceptionally unlikely in 2020. (The Loomer campaign did not respond to a request for comment on this story.)

But her victory is telling nonetheless. In a healthy political party, extremists who cheer the deaths of migrants and were arrested for trespassing on the California governor’s mansion while wearing a sombrero wouldn’t get more than a handful of votes. Instead, Loomer was endorsed by two sitting members of Congress — Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) — and feted by the president himself.

Loomer is now part of a group of fringe Republicans winning congressional primaries in 2020, the most notable of whom is Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia-based believer in the QAnon conspiracy theory who won in a safe Republican district and is very likely heading to Congress.

This is not an isolated problem. A closer look at Loomer, in particular, reveals that the causes of this rot run deeper than Trump and are very likely to continue remaking the Republican Party after he’s gone.”

Why Republicans are failing to govern

“Different Republican senators have different ideas, but across the party as a whole, there is no plan. The Republican Party has no policy theory for how to contain the coronavirus, nor for how to drive the economy back to full employment. And there is no plan to come up with a plan, nor anyone with both the interest and authority to do so. The Republican Party is broken as a policymaking institution, and it has been for some time.

“I don’t think you’re missing anything,” said a top Republican Senate staffer. “You have a whole bunch of people in the Senate posturing for 2024 rather than governing for the crisis we’re in.”

“There hasn’t been a coherent GOP policy on anything for almost five years now,” a senior aide to a conservative Senate Republican told me. “Other than judges, I don’t think you can point to any united policy priorities.””