Establishment Republicans Charlie Dent, Mary Peters, Denver Riggleman, Michael Steele and Christine Todd Whitman wrote an OpEd for the Washington Post this morning, The GOP has lost its way, asking the rest of us to join their "new alliance." They used to be prominent Republicans with some sway. Dent and Riggleman were congressmen; Whitman was the governor of New Jersey; Steele was the head of the RNC and Peters was Bush's transportation secretary. Today, combined they don't have the social media reach or political clout, of deranged sociopath Marjorie Taylor Greene or about-to-be-indicted sex predator Matt Gaetz. In response to a Washington Post reporter's question about Greene today, AOC noted that "This is a woman that’s deeply unwell and clearly needs some help… At this point, I think, the depth of that un-wellness has raised concerns for other members… I’m concerned about her perceptions of reality."
In any case, The Post editors seem to feel someone is interested in what members of the old guard of the GOP have to say even if everyone else is obsessing over the Greenes and Gaetzes. These GOP relics are offended that their old party believes Trump's Big Lie and that their old party just shit-canned Liz Cheney. They wrote that "Tragically, the Republican Party has lost its way, perverted by fear, lies and self-interest."
They're committed to "an alliance" or a "coalition," which is not a new party that might shave 5-10% of the vote off the GOP. Instead, they wrote, "Alongside dozens of prominent Republicans, ex-Republicans and independents, we are announcing 'A Call for American Renewal,' a nationwide rallying cry against extremist elements within the GOP, and highlighting the urgent need for a new, common-sense coalition."
They urge "our fellow Americans to join us" and note that their alliance "includes former governors, members of Congress, Cabinet secretaries, state officials, seasoned political strategists and grass-roots leaders dedicated to offering a hopeful, principles-based vision for the country-- and ensuring that our votes have decisive impact in key elections across the United States." They say they "want to give voice to the millions of Americans who feel politically homeless and mobilize them to help chart a new path forward for our country."
I'm not sure how many Americans feel politically homeless enough to join a bunch of elite conservatives who hate Trump. They warned that their party's "attacks on the integrity of our elections and our institutions pose a continuing and material threat to the nation." Republicans aren't repulsed by that; they're celebrating it. They wrote that "The Jan. 6 insurrection was a wake-up call for many who had remained loyal to the party, even while harboring concerns about its direction." Most Republicans would beg to differ. They're celebrating that too-- or, among those who have a functioning conscience, denying it ever happened.
And then comes their stern warning (again): "The GOP has effectively become a privileged third party, ranking behind independents and Democrats in voter registration. Meanwhile, Republican legislators are trying to impede voting rights across the country as a last-ditch effort to retain power. We will not wait forever for the GOP to clean up its act. If we cannot save the Republican Party from itself, we will help save America from extremist elements in the Republican Party. That means hastening the creation of an alternative: a political movement dedicated to our founding principles and divorced from the GOP’s obsessive cult of personality around a deeply flawed (and twice-impeached) man, whose favorability ratings are reportedly tanking in key swing districts around the country."
They claim they intend "to work across party lines with other Americans to oppose extremists and defend the republic wherever we can. Together with our patriotic allies in other parties, our movement will stand against fearmongers, conspiracy theorists and the opportunists who seek unbridled power. We plan to invest in a deeper bench of effective leaders in cities and states across the country while recruiting a new generation of principled, pragmatic citizens to the cause... We still hope for a healthy, thriving Republican Party, but we are no longer holding our breath. Next month, we will convene a nationwide town hall open to all Americans and featuring current and former U.S. leaders who will lay out where we must go from here, how we can ensure a freer America and how all citizens can join the fight. Extremists may have fired the first shot in this moral struggle for America’s future, but with truth as our lodestar, those laboring to renew America will fire the last."
I wonder who reads The Bulwark, a conservative NeverTrump website. Yesterday, one of their top editors, William Kristol warned readers to Be Worried, warning that new polling suggests the GOP is probably going to take back the House next year. Some of these readers might be confused, since they might still expect Kristol to announce that polling under the title not of "Be Worried" but of "Be Joyful." But, much like Charlie Dent, Mary Peters, Denver Riggleman, Michael Steele and Christine Todd Whitman, Kristol has persuaded himself that his GOP is no longer the GOP. I guess he doesn't see he-- and they-- all laid the groundwork for the cult-of-personality and the brainwashed supporters.
His analysis of the polling shows that "Republicans have been coming home" to their party and intend to vote for GOP candidates in the 2022 midterms. Kristol finds it "striking" because Biden is doing a good job.
He wrote that "it’s worth coming to grips with the fact that the contemptible, even dangerous behavior by the overwhelming majority of House Republicans does not automatically mean that they will be punished politically. (And by the way, Democrats holding the Senate in 2022 is no sure thing either.) The arc of off-year elections is short, and it may not bend toward justice. What is to be done to bend this arc? That’s a big question." He has no answer, only a conclusion that "the beginning of wisdom is to recognize the situation, to overcome complacency and resist wishful thinking. The beginning of wisdom, as Tocqueville put it, is to 'have that salutary fear of the future that makes one watchful and combative, and not that sort of soft and idle terror that wears hearts down and enervates them.'"
Democrats can't afford to screw up. But they are starting to. Conservatives in the party have been moving closer towards unpopular Republican positions. Voters love Biden's Infrastructure and Jobs plan and they love the idea of taxing corporations and wealthy Americans to pay for it. Corrupt conservative Democrats prefer the Republican funding method: tax the working and middle class through regressive taxation schemes like sales taxes, user fees and VATs. Their big donors may like that, but no one else does.
Right of center corporate Dems Mark Warner (VA), Joe Manchin (WV), Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) and Tom Carper (DE) came out of their Republican-lite closets for Axios this morning. Hans Nichols and Alayna Treene wrote that for them "compromise" means raising the white flag and adopting GOP proposals that screw the Democratic Party base. They ought to ask skilled legislators like Ted Lieu and Pramila Jayapal how compromise is done without abandoning core values. But they won't because their own core values have more in common with the Republicans' than with their own party's. Nichols and Treene noted that "By inching toward the Republican position on pay-fors, some Democrats are bucking President Biden's push to offset his proposed $2.3 trillion plan by focusing only on raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy. 'User fees have to be part of the mix,' Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) told Axios on Thursday. 'I am generally supportive of what the president is trying to do, but I think his initial unwillingness to include user fees makes it really hard.' In separate meetings with Biden this week, both Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) discussed the possibility of imposing user fees, according to people familiar with the matter.
Some Democrats are opposed to relying on user fees to fund new projects because lower-income Americans would pay a disproportionate share of their income to use the same roads as the wealthy.
User fees also could be interpreted as a tax increase on Americans making less than $400,000 a year, which Biden promised not to do.
"Republicans aren't serious about paying for anything," Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) told Axios.
If congressional Democrats don't stand up for their base, the base won't come out and vote in the midterms. That simple. Warner, Carper, Sinema and Manchin aren't up for reelection but the fragile Democratic majorities in the House and Senate are. If they think phony, one-sided bipartisanship means more to voters than getting something done, they're going to be in for rude reawakenings as minority members of committees in 2023-- and in a Congress likely unwilling to confirm a 2024 Democratic presidential victor.