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Does Party Fence-Jumping Signal A Partisan Re-Alignment?

"Status Quo" by Nancy Ohanian

Although Manchin quickly denied it and called it bullshit, David Corn reported that the corrupt West Virginia reactionary has been telling associates that he's considering leaving the Democratic Party and has a 2-step exit plan. He's supposed to have told friends that if Biden pushes the Build Back Better Plan beyond $1.75 trillion, he'll quit the Dems and join (the nonexistent) American Independent Party. He has already warned Biden he may do this. "It is unclear," wrote Corn, "whether in this scenario Manchin would end up caucusing with the Democrats, which would allow them to continue to control the Senate, or side with the Republicans and place the Senate in GOP hands. In either event, he would hold great sway over this half of Congress... In his talks with Sanders and Democratic legislators, Manchin has said that they should be willing to accept his $1.75 trillion offer and continue to fight for the social and climate change programs he doesn’t support and make these campaign issues in 2022 and 2024, as they try to elect more Democrats. Half of a bill is better than none, he has advised."

Billionaire Nelson Peltz, was born into wealth, and is a founding partner in shady hedge fund firm, Trian Fund Management. He's the non-executive chairman of Wendy's and of Procter & Gamble. He has been a long-time major Trump financial supporter. He gives money-- lots of it-- to conservative organizations (like $650,000 to Citizens for a Strong America, which promotes fascism in Wisconsin and hundreds of thousands to the Republican Party) and to conservative politicians of both parties. He maxes-out to candidates he supports-- like David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in Georgia last year. Recipients of big checks from Peltz include Steve Scalise (R-LA), Josh Gottheimer (Blue Dog-NJ-- over and over and over), Kurt Schrader (Blue Dog-OR), Michelle Catuso-Cabrera (the freak who ran against AOC), Sean Parnell (R-PA), Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) and, of course, Joe Manchin. Yesterday, CNBC reported that Peltz says he talks to Manchin every week and pushes him to cut the Build Back Better Act. "Joe is the most important guy in D.C. Maybe the most important guy in America today. I call him every week and say, 'Joe, you’re doing great. Stay tough. Stay tough, buddy.' He’s phenomenal."

[Want to help carry through with Manchin's advise about electing more progressives? You can contribute to House progressive candidates here and to Senate progressive candidates here.]

Another-- non-Beltway, lobbyist-free-- side of the coin: Robert Gonzalez is a Tucson-based tech executive and attorney who wrote an OpEd for the Arizona Republic yesterday withdrawing a suggestion he made in February that urged his fellow Republicans not to leave the party, Just over 7 months later he's writing that he was wrong. He made a cogent case for quitting the Republican Party.

Back in February, Gonzalez, who's been a Republican for 20 years, felt the GOP could still be saved if "decent people" stayed and worked to reform it from within. (Have there been "decent people" in the GOP in the last 20 years? He's been blinkered, to say the least.) He wrote that he "hoped that the extremism we were seeing-- those questioning the results of the 2020 election, those advocating against a peaceful transition of power, those defending the terrorists who attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, those ignoring science and advocating for horse dewormer as a public health measure-- was a fringe element... Since February, we’ve witnessed a sad majority of Republicans continue to support the anti-democratic forces in the party." And that sad majority he speaks of... is an overwhelming majority. A just released poll by YouGov for The Economist shows these favorable/unfavorable ratings among registered voters:

  • Biden- 46%/51%

  • Pelosi- 38%/54%

  • McConnell- 22%/66%

  • McCarthy- 25%/49%

  • Schumer- 33%/50%

  • Señor Trumpanzee- 41%/55%

But, to Gonzalez's point, among Republicans, Trump's favorable rating is now 81% and only 16% have an unfavorable opinion of him. Decent people?

And the two parties? It's always that lesser of two evils game that the Democratic Party encourages:

  • Democratic Party- 43% favorable/52% unfavorable

  • Republican Party- 34% favorable/61% unfavorable

Gonzalez continued by pointing out that there "in Arizona, Republican leadership has pushed and advocated for a sham audit of the 2020 election results and politicized public health. These anti-democratic tendencies are not just prevalent among currently elected officials. I don’t know of a single Republican candidate who has announced for 2022 that has pushed back on the lunacy surrounding 'Stop the Steal.' The mood among the boots on the ground is no different. At local legislative district meetings, Republican grassroots activists obsessively pursue conspiracy theories about the election. Support for Trump-- and for the belief that the election was somehow stolen for him-- has become a litmus test for Republicans in Arizona and across the country. Opposition to science-- including the science behind vaccines and mask-wearing-- follow closely behind."

Statewide, Arizona has a slightly below average vaccination rate. But when you look at it on a county level, you immediately see that the counties that dave Trump the biggest share of the votes in 2020, are the counties dragging down Arizona's vaccination rate. Only half a dozen counties gave Trump over 60% of their votes. Those counties all have abysmal vaccination rates:

  • Mohave Co.- 74.9% Trump (36% fully vaccinated)

  • Graham Co.- 71.5% Trump (54% fully vaccinated)

  • La Paz Co.- 68.6% Trump (42% fully vaccinated)

  • Gila Co.- 66.3% Trump (52% fully vaccinated)

  • Greenlee Co.- 65.8% Trump (38% fully vaccinated)

  • Yavapai Co.- 63.7% Trump (40% fully vaccinated)

Compare that to the counties that gave Trump his worst numbers in the state (under 40%):

  • Santa Cruz Co.-31.6 % Trump (90% fully vaccinated)

  • Apache Co.- 32.4% Trump (72% fully vaccinated)

  • Coconino Co.- 36.7% Trump (68% fully vaccinated)

  • Pima Co.- 39.8% Trump (59% fully vaccinated)

In other words, the Trumpiest county-- Mohave (nearly 3/4 of the voters took the dark path)-- is also the county with the most morons, just over 1/3 vaccinated. And the least Trumpified county-- Santa Cruz where not even a third of the voters when for Trump-- has an incredible 90% vaccination rate. The correlation is undeniable. The conclusion: Trump voters are incapable of taking care of themselves or of contributing to society in a positive way.

Gonzalez wrote that he's still hoping "for a reasonable, sane, principled Republican Party, I’m no longer hopeful that it can be achieved by working within. I’m not optimistic for the reelection prospects for folks like Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, or for the prospects of those in Republican primaries who do not embrace the Big Lie. And even if they win, their ability to do good remains severely constricted by the vast majority of Republicans in D.C. who embrace lies."

So where do we go from here?
I’m not sure.
Some have left the party and registered as independents. That approach is principled, but given the current structure of our elections, makes it increasingly difficult for these sane voices to have any real influence.
Some have left and joined the Democratic Party. That is all well and good, if you feel a connection to the ideals of policies of that party, or feel that its leadership reflects your values. But we’ve seen what happens when the left holds political power unchecked. This country works best with a diversity of views.
Some are talking about new parties, like the Serve America Movement, and about reforming our primaries that entrench polarization. I truly hope they get traction, and we can move beyond a hyperpolarized two-party system.
In the meantime, I’m leaving the Republican Party. I had hope back in February that we could correct course. Especially after Jan. 6, a return to sanity seemed necessary, maybe inevitable. But after months of meeting with folks on the ground, watching the news and seeing the 2022 GOP primaries unfold, I’m less optimistic.
One of the few remaining tools to influence the Republican Party is to sever ties. So I urge remaining Republicans who stand for truth and democracy to vote with their feet, and leave.

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