In her essay for The Atlantic this morning, The Left And The Right Believe The Worst About Each Other, Victoria Parker falls into fascism's most basic trap-- equating the extreme right with the moderate left. "Americans," she says, authoritatively but brainlessly, "believe-- incorrectly-- that hard-liners dominate the opposite came." There are certainly hard-liners on the right-- real fascists willing to resort to violence to further their agenda-- Marjorie Traitor Greene (Q-GA), Madison Cawthorn (Nazi-NC), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Lauren Boebert (Q-AL), Mo Brooks (R-AL), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Ronny Johnson (R-TX)... but is there anything remotely like that on the left? Answer: no, not AOC, not Ilhan Omar, not Pramila, not Ro, not Cori, not Jamaal... not even close, not even in the same universe. The violence and section is entirely on the right-- 100%. Victoria Parker is an imbecile and an unwitting tool.
More useful, not to mention coherent, reading was a post last night by Colby Itkowitz in the Washington Post, House MAGA squad seeks to expand by boosting challengers to fellow Republicans. He writes how a Trumpist goon squad led by loud-mouthed nothings Marjorie Traitor Greene and Madison Cawthorn "have embarked on a targeted campaign ahead of the midterm elections to expand their ranks-- and extend their power-- on Capitol Hill" by purging "the GOP of those not deemed loyal to the former president and his false claims that the 2020 election was rigged." Fascist candidates have been recruited and are being supported after careful vetting, candidates against mainstream conservative Republicans.
Former Army Green Beret Joe Kent is running for a U.S. House seat in Washington state held by another Republican, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, who voted to impeach Trump over his role in the events of Jan. 6 at the Capitol.
Kent said he has little interest in fighting with Democrats if he makes it to Congress. Instead, he wants to force Republicans into tough votes, starting with articles of impeachment against President Biden and a full congressional inquiry into the 2020 presidential election, which he says was stolen from Trump.
“A lot of it will be shaming Republicans,” Kent said. “I need to be going after the people in the Republican Party who want to go back to go-along-to-get-along. It’s put up or shut up.”
The goal, organizers of the effort say, is to supersize the MAGA group in the House from its current loose membership of about a half-dozen-- and give it the heft that, combined with its close alliance with Trump, would put it in a position to wield significant influence should Republicans win the House majority.
Key to the strategy is to coalesce MAGA-movement support around certain candidates running in Republican primaries in heavily pro-Trump congressional districts where the primary victor is all but assured to win the seat in November. That effort is being bolstered by redistricting, as state lawmakers draw districts even more partisan than the current lines.
In 2020, Trump won 45 districts by more than 15 percentage points. Under new maps already finalized in more than a dozen states, he would have won 78 districts by that margin, according to a Washington Post analysis.
“We should be gaining MAGA seats,” Boris Epshteyn, a Trump ally, said on a recent episode of the radio show hosted by former Trump strategist Stephen Bannon. “It’s not just about ‘let’s add some Republican seats,’ it’s about ‘let’s add MAGA strongholds.’ ”
Trump critics warn that a stronger MAGA wing in Congress threatens democracy.
“We’re looking at a nihilistic Mad Max hellscape. It will be all about the show of 2024 to bring Donald Trump back into power. … They will impeach Biden, they will impeach Harris, they will kill everything,” said Rick Wilson, a longtime Republican strategist who is sharply critical of Trump.
Trump has taken an active role in selecting candidates, so far doling out dozens of endorsements, and many of the candidates, like Kent, are challenging incumbents in GOP primaries for state and federal positions. For the 2022 House races, Trump has already thrown his support behind more than two dozen Republicans, including five running against Republican incumbents.
Candidates seeking his approval meet with him at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., where he peppers them with questions that test their MAGA bona fides. A Trump spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.
Patrick Witt is a former Yale quarterback running for Georgia’s 10th Congressional District seat against a Republican who formerly held the seat, and he visited Trump recently. So did Bo Hines, 26, who also played football at Yale and is running for a still-to-be-determined seat in North Carolina.
The emerging candidates-- some former collegiate athletes and military veterans, telegenic and mostly White male millennials-- have benefited from publicity from Bannon and the fundraising prowess and endorsements of the alliance of Republican House members who have cast themselves in Trump’s image, including Greene, Cawthorn, Matt Gaetz (FL) and Lauren Boebert (CO).
Over the summer, Greene and Gaetz went on the road together, holding “America First” rallies in various states, dishing out applause lines about the election being stolen and Trump running in 2024.
Last month, the duo planned to attend an event for Graham Allen, an Army veteran and conservative podcast host running in South Carolina’s 7th Congressional District against Rep. Tom Rice (R), who voted to impeach Trump. When they had to cancel their appearance to vote against Biden’s infrastructure package, they sent a video message.
“We need him here. He’s the exact type of Republican we need that won’t cower, won’t fall in line to Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger and will stop the radical Democrats from destroying our great country,” Greene said in the video, aiming at two Republican House members who are among Trump’s most fervent critics.
Cawthorn has endorsed seven Republicans in 2022 House races-- a figure that could effectively double the size of the MAGA squad were they to win. Greene’s and Gaetz’s offices did not respond to questions about how many candidates they have endorsed, but they’ve made clear their intent to scout MAGA candidates. In a Vanity Fair interview published in August, Gaetz called himself and Greene Trump’s “advance team” and said Trump christened their plan to be “out there in the early-primary states keeping the band in tune, if you will.”
Some of the endorsements put them at odds with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who has staked Republican money and strategy on flipping the handful of seats the party needs to win back the majority rather than taking sides in a battle between the MAGA crew and less Trumpian members.
Some of the MAGA candidates are openly disdainful of McCarthy. Witt would not say whether he would support McCarthy for speaker but did say that if Trump wanted the job-- a theory that was bandied about on far-right sites-- he’d “support him 100 percent.” When Hines was in Washington recently, he met with McCarthy. Asked whether that put him at odds with the MAGA squad, Hines responded, “Right now, he’s the leader of a party.”
Party purity tests in primary elections aren’t new, but the bar has moved sharply since Trump’s election. The RINO-- Republican in name only-- hunters of a decade ago, like Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-PA), who forced then-Sen. Arlen Specter to switch parties rather than face him in an unwinnable primary, are now the hunted in a party that has remade itself in Trump’s image.
Toomey, who was among the handful of Republicans who voted to impeach Trump over the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, is retiring next year rather than seek reelection. Departures are marking the House as well: Kinzinger (IL) and Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (OH) are stepping down rather than face MAGA-backed primary opponents after intense backlash to their votes in favor of impeachment.
...To secure the endorsement of high-profile MAGA figures like Cawthorn, Greene or Trump himself, the candidates must push the unfounded claim that the 2020 election was stolen and show complete fealty to the former president-- “Pro-Trump” features prominently in their social media bios and on their campaign websites.
They talk tough on the danger they say is posed by migrants crossing the southern border, and they rail about prime Fox News topics such as “woke fascism,” critical race theory and transgender laws-- appeals also made by Trump.
Witt’s candidacy was boosted one recent evening in the Lincoln dining room of the Capitol Hill Club, a private GOP hangout for 70 years frequented by the kind of establishment Republican insiders the MAGA squad is plotting to overthrow.
...“Any candidate I endorse must be willing to go on offense when it comes to messaging, advancing the America First MAGA agenda in the U.S. House of Representatives,” Cawthorn said in an emailed statement. “They can’t allow the left to run roughshod over us and our narrative.”
...Some of those running to join the MAGA caucus are more overtly controversial. Anthony Sabatini, a Republican state representative in Florida who doesn’t know yet what House district he is seeking, calls Democrats who support mask mandates “Nazis.” During the racial justice protests in May 2020, he tweeted a photo of an AR-15 as a warning to protesters. In a now-deleted tweet, he shared a link to a QAnon website that came with a warning about violent content.
In an interview, Sabatini cited McCarthy as an example when he said the “elected class of the Republican Party don’t like their own voters; they think they are better than their own voters.”
“The Republican Party is never really moving the issues that matter to the base. If they did, the entire Department of Education would be defunded,” he said. “They are not in step with what their voters want.”
Sabatini has racked up endorsements from many MAGA members of Congress, including Cawthorn, Gaetz and Greene, and said he’s waiting for a call from Mar-a-Lago saying that Trump will endorse him.
And people were surprised this morning when they read the Wall Street Journal report, How the Capitol Riot Turned a Partisan Congress ‘Toxic’, by Natalie Andrews and Eliza Collins? The Journal, a preeminent mouthpiece for conservative capitalism notes that "The breakdown in their relationship [between Blue Dog Brad Schneider and fascist Paul Gosar] shows how the bitter partisanship in the House shifted into overdrive after the Jan. 6 riot, when the Capitol was attacked by a pro-Trump mob determined to stop the count certifying President Biden as the winner. There is no evidence of widespread fraud, and audits of millions of ballots in key states affirmed the presidential result... [P]eople of all political stripes say the House has become a deeply unpleasant place to work, with simmering ill feeling and a series of ugly incidents fraying remaining bipartisan ties. Today, magnetometers meant to detect weapons beep regularly as House lawmakers enter and exit the chamber that was breached almost a year ago, serving as a regular reminder of the attack. 'It’s as bad as I’ve seen it,' said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) who first came to Congress in 1981. 'The toxic environment has been building for a long, long time before Jan. 6, but Jan. 6 just blew it up in flames,' Hoyer said in an interview."
In his Atlantic column last night, Peter Wehner wrote that Trumpanzee, Jr "is both intensely unappealing and uninteresting. He combines in his person corruption, ineptitude, and banality. He is perpetually aggrieved; obsessed with trolling the left; a crude, one-dimensional figure who has done a remarkably good job of keeping from public view any redeeming qualities he might have. There’s a case to be made that he’s worth ignoring, except for this: Don Jr. has been his father’s chief emissary to MAGA world; he’s one of the most popular figures in the Republican Party; and he’s influential with Republicans in positions of power. He’s also attuned to what appeals to the base of the GOP. So, from time to time, it is worth paying attention to what he has to say."
He paints "a scenario in which Trump supporters-- Americans living in red America-- are under relentless attack from a wicked and brutal enemy. He portrayed it as an existential battle between good and evil. One side must prevail; the other must be crushed. This in turn justifies any necessary means to win. And the former president’s son has a message for the tens of millions of evangelicals who form the energized base of the GOP: the scriptures are essentially a manual for suckers. The teachings of Jesus have 'gotten us nothing.' It’s worse than that, really; the ethic of Jesus has gotten in the way of successfully prosecuting the culture wars against the left. If the ethic of Jesus encourages sensibilities that might cause people in politics to act a little less brutally, a bit more civilly, with a touch more grace? Then it needs to go. Decency is for suckers."