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Authoritarians-- Whether Dostoevsky's Grand Inquisitor Or Today's GOP-- Can't Handle Free Choice

“The Grand Inquisitor” is a chapter from Dostoevsky’s epic and profound novel The Brothers Karamazov, one of my favorite books of all times. In “The Grand Inquisitor” he delves into the concept of choice and its significance in human life. The chapter is a parable about Jesus' return during the Spanish Inquisition. He’s arrested and thrown into jail and is then confronted by the Grand Inquisitor who berates Him for giving the masses the burden of freedom and choice. This is a very conservative perspective of course and Dostoevsky uses the parable to explore the tension between individual freedom and the desire for security and authority. The Grand Inquisitor argues that people are not capable of handling the freedom and responsibility that comes with making choices, and they would prefer to surrender their freedom to an authoritative figure who will provide them with certainty and comfort. Dostoevsky raises philosophical questions about the nature of freedom, morality, and the role of religious and secular authorities. He presents contrasting views on the value and consequences of human choice, ultimately challenging readers to contemplate the complexities of individual agency and the struggle between personal freedom and societal control. The chapter, which is also often available as a stand-alone book, offers profound insights into human nature, moral dilemmas, and the tension between individual autonomy and that ole desire for security, in our own time still being expressed in discussions around the balance between women’s personal autonomy and patriarchally-imposed societal norms.

Earlier today, we saw that far right lunatic Darren Bailey of rural southern Illinois announced his candidacy for Congress in one of the reddest districts anywhere in America, IL-12, where Trump got over 70% of the vote in 2020. It’s a rural, evangelical hellhole, carefully gerrymandered to find every Republican voter in the southern part of the state. QAnon is a legitimate source of information for the people who live there. In his announcement video, Bailey celebrated how Trump had appointed three extremist Supreme Court justices who then were able to overturn Roe v Wade. It isn’t something that candidates is more typical or average districts anywhere in America would do— and certainly not something Republicans in most state-wide races would do (although no one sent Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa the message).

Yesterday, Alexander Bolton reported that “Republican senators are looking for a way to avoid the political hit they took on abortion rights in the 2022 midterm election, when they suffered a net loss of one seat, as Senate Democrats ramp up to make it a top issue in 2024.”

Republicans have a realistic chance to capture the Senate majority with a map completely in their favor, Democrats defending seats in red and purple states: Ohio, Montana, West Virginia, Arizona, Wisconsin, Nevada and Pennsylvania and no really vulnerable Republican seats, unless God intervenes in Texas, Florida or Missouri. “But,” wrote Bolton, “Senate Republican strategists warn their hopes of winning back the majority in 2024 could be derailed by the abortion debate, as they believe happened last year. Strategists say the issue was a major factor last year in Senate races in Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania, which Democrats won. ‘It’s true that abortion was the chief inhibiting factor for preventing Republicans from gaining an even bigger majority in the House, and of the Senate seats where we came up short last cycle the only way we can win this cycle is if we don’t let an issue like that pull voters away from our party,’ said one Republican strategist who requested anonymity to discuss party strategy… ‘[S]uburban women voters will not vote for our candidates if they are turned off by what they feel are extreme views,’ the strategist said. ‘Any state where Republicans have trouble with suburban voters because of the Trump brand, they had double trouble with suburban voters because of abortion politics, and it was for no reason because there is no chance a federal ban on abortion happens, ever.’”

Senate Republicans are now as divided as they were in 2022 over whether to ignore the issue and leave it to state legislatures to decide or whether to rally behind a 15-week federal abortion ban.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell says abortion policy should be left to the states and that Congress shouldn’t have a role to play since it’s highly unlikely any federal abortion ban could muster 60 votes to pass the Senate.
But Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, rejects McConnell’s position and argues that presidential candidates should embrace a federal abortion ban.
He is planning to reintroduce legislation that would ban abortions at 15 weeks.
His proposal still gives states the freedom to impose stricter bans that would take effect during earlier stages of pregnancy.
“Some Republicans say abortion is a states’ rights issue. I reject that,” Graham told reporters last month in Charleston, according to the Post and Courier.

Democratic strategists couldn’t be happier while “some Republican strategists are trying to wave Graham off from pushing a 15-week abortion ban into the national spotlight again… Graham unveiled his bill to ban abortions after 15 weeks nationwide in September, before the November midterm election, which some Republican strategists at the time thought was a bad idea. ‘It was awful,’ the Republican strategist who requested anonymity said of Graham’s proposal. ‘From a campaign practitioner’s standpoint, it was awful.’ Some Republicans argue that pushing GOP lawmakers to embrace a national ban is a one-size-fits-all approach that doesn’t give Republican candidates enough space to advocate for their own deeply held convictions.”

Bolton noted that top Democratic pollster Celinda Lake tells her clients that Dobbs had a “huge impact” on the midterms. “It was a twofer— it mobilized record numbers of young people and record numbers of Democrats, particularly Democratic younger women, and then it also helped us set up these races as a choice rather than a referendum. [To win in 2024] we need to make this a choice, not a referendum.”

“The Democrats would love nothing more than congressional Republicans to raise the discussion of abortion instead of inflation, crime or other issues that they are weak on going into a presidential election,” said Ron Bonjean, a GOP strategist and former Senate Republican leadership aide.
Brandon Scholz, a Republican strategist based in Wisconsin, which was a Senate battleground in 2022 and may be again in 2024, said abortion is one of the Democrats’ best issues heading into next year’s election.
“There’s two things Democrats need: Donald Trump and the abortion issue,” he said.
But he acknowledged abortion is a tricky issue for Republicans to navigate because “it is an issue that stands alone” and can’t be easily countered by raising Biden’s handling of the economy or other issues on which Republicans poll more favorably.
“Today I think Republicans still have to figure out how they’re going to address it because Republicans are split. Some want no action, some want exceptions, some want even tougher language. There’s no consensus among Republican Party members,” he said.

NBC News also ran a report how Democrats are beating up on Republicans over the Choice issue, primarily in swing states with vulnerable Democratic senators. “The issue,” wrote Adam Edelman, “will be particularly hard for Republicans to run from in the perennial battleground of Wisconsin, where a deeply unpopular abortion ban will be working its way through through the state court system. The law— enacted in 1849 (only months after Wisconsin was admitted into the union)— bans abortions in almost all cases. ‘What we see in Wisconsin is also playing out nationally, which is that the GOP has built a machine around stoking up anger about Roe v. Wade but has never been able to do anything about it,’ Ben Wikler, the chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, said in an interview. ‘But now that the dog has caught the car, they have no message and no answers to tens of millions of Americans who don’t think politicians should be jumping between them and their doctor in the moments when they’re making their most intimate and personal decisions.’ Democrats in the state haven’t wasted any time bringing the issue to the foreground. Incumbent Sen. Tammy Baldwin has already begun talking up her support for abortion rights. Last month, the Democratic National Committee, as part of a campaign across multiple battlegrounds, put up a huge billboard in Milwaukee and began running digital ads in the state, all focused on Democrats’ support for reproductive rights.”

“The state Democratic Party,” reported Edelman, “has also been aggressive on social media blasting the records of a growing list of prospective Republican challengers, including Rep. Tom Tiffany, businessmen Eric Hovde and Scott Mayer, and former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke. All four would face an uphill climb reconciling their stances on the issue in a state where polling released last week found that 66% of registered voters said abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Tiffany, for example, co-sponsored a 2021 House bill that proposed implementing a ban on almost all abortions at around six weeks of pregnancy— before most women even know they’re pregnant. Clarke has compared abortion to slavery and “genocide,” and he has characterized the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision as “similar to a stay of execution.” Clarke has called for the government to ban abortion. Hovde, who ran for Senate in 2012, has said he is ‘100% pro-life.’… Interviews with Republicans in the state revealed that they still don't have a concrete strategy on how to tackle the issue, though most agreed that the party has fumbled its messaging in the year since the Dobbs ruling.”

Over the past few weeks, Democrats in Montana, Nevada and Ohio held events designed to highlight the abortion rights records of Republicans who have expressed interest in running or announced a run for Senate.
Democrats also pounced on the issue in Pennsylvania, where the state party is already running digital ads against David McCormick — whom Republicans are encouraging to run against incumbent Democratic Sen. Bob Casey. They target McCormick’s position that life begins at conception and his statements during his unsuccessful 2022 Senate primary race that he supported exceptions for abortion care only in “very rare instances.
A spokesperson for McCormick told NBC News that he "supports exceptions in the cases of rape, incest and saving the life of the mother."
“In 2022, voters rejected the GOP agenda taking away women’s right to make our own health care decisions and making abortion illegal without exceptions— and we know this will continue to be a defining issue in 2024 Senate races,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesperson Nora Keefe said in a statement.
It’s a strategy that Wikler, too, continues to bet on in Wisconsin, where he says any potential counter-messaging from Republicans won’t reconcile the public attitudes on reproductive care.
“The debate over who should make those decisions, whether women and their doctors, or Republican politicians, is a debate that Sen. Baldwin is ready to have,” he said.

Even in much redder Missouri, Lucas Kunce, the progressive Democrat running against anti-Choice fanatic Josh Hawley, is leaning heavily into the issue. He sent this ad out to Missouri voters yesterday (you can contribute to his campaign by clicking in it):

That Republican strategist who was whining that the Democrats have nothing but Trump and the Choice issue, reminded me… a report from Reuters yesterday noted that swing state Republicans are bleeding donors— and the blame falls on Trump.

Michigan’s GOP, which was heavily dependent on local oligarchs who have stopped donating, is nearly bankrupt and has had to move out of its headquarters. The latest was released estate mogul and former Michigan GOP chairman Ron Weiser— who donated $4.5 million in one midterm cycle and is now giving zero. “The withdrawal of bankrollers like Weiser reflects the high price Republicans in the battleground states of Michigan and Arizona are paying for their full-throated support of former President Trump and his unsubstantiated claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him… Arizona's Republican Party had less than $50,000 in cash reserves in its state and federal bank accounts as of March 31 to spend on overheads such as rent, payroll and political campaign operations, the filings show. At the same point four years ago, it had nearly $770,000.”

Seth Masket, director of the non-partisan Center on American Politics at the University of Denver, noted that the ability of the Arizona and the Michigan Republican parties “to help candidates is severely limited right now.”


Jul 06, 2023

Starts off nicely with a philosophical question oft asked but almost never answered. you'll see why a bit further down. And, in fact, when a society becomes as colossally stupid as ours has, the question isn't even asked anymore except in a nostalgic sense.

"The Grand Inquisitor argues that people are not capable of handling the freedom and responsibility that comes with making choices, and they would prefer to surrender their freedom to an authoritative figure who will provide them with certainty and comfort."

be bothered.

What NAZIS really want is for the state to decide for them... as long as the state's hatreds line up with theirs. doesn't even have to be total. just as long as the b…


Jul 06, 2023

Given how long dems have stood by and watched this coming, I think it's fair to ask why the blue slip keeps coming back?

Jul 06, 2023
Replying to

it was said plainly: "Democrats have nothing but Trump and the Choice issue"

democraps priorities remain as they've been since the '80s when slick willie formed the DLC:

1) keep getting paid

2) keep getting paid

3) keep getting paid

4) keep getting paid

You will NOT see anything in that list about serving the interests of the voters or enforcing rule of law or protecting/defending the founding document.

But even more insanely, you won't see anything about perpetually winning majorities... because they can't do that AND serve their investors as their interests are opposed to those of 79 million who they need to vote for them.

democraps gladly lose majorities with regularity rather than earn a perpetual majority of…

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