Is The Lesser Evil Party Giving Up Congressional Majorities On A Bet They'll Win The White House?
A few days ago, Juan Cole asked a not-so-simple question. He wanted to know if senior Republican House leader, Gym Jordan, who represents a backward, rural swath of Ohio, is a traitor to the United States. Spoiler: sedition more than treason per se. One of the texts-- his-- identified by the select committee investigating the violent 1/6 coup attempt read: "On January 6, 2021, Vice President Mike Pence, as President of the Senate, should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all."
Cole wrote that "this text is actually just a crackpot theory with no legal basis whatsoever, implying that Vice President Pence could have refused to certify President Biden’s election. He had no such prerogative." He added the definition of treason from Article III, Section 3, Clause 1 of the Constitution: "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court."
Cole thinks that sedition is a better description of what happened on and around January 6 and cited the U.S. 18 Federal Code § 2383 "Rebellion or insurrection: “Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States."
Cole continued that it was likely that Jordan and several other members of Congress, as well as Señor Trumpanzee, "were in close contact with members of Oath Keepers and other far right militias who spearheaded the Jan. 6 attack... Anyone who cheered on the invasion of the Capitol with an eye to preventing Congress from certifying Biden’s win would likely be guilty of rebellion or insurrection... Jordan's text "was false and misleading, and he sent it with the purpose of obstructing the Congress from certifying the election... We know that Jordan talked with Trump on January 6. If we ever find out what he said, it could be a basis for a charge of conspiracy sedition."
Perhaps that-- as well Bannon's new podcast threatening to take over the election apparatus-- is what inspired Doug Sosnik's new OpEd in this morning's Washington Post... or maybe it was the article from the Dallas Observer yesterday reporting on how QAnon (by now, just another way of saying GOP) cultists are drinking bleach-like toxic chemicals, just like Trump suggested they do. Sosnik, who noted that Señor Trumpanzee's "takeover of the Republican Party will soon be complete, and what had previously been a fringe element within the GOP will emerge fully in control" entitled his OpEd As the GOP sheds its moderates, a whirlwind approaches. He wrote that Trump'ss and the Republican Party's "two big lies-- that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump and that the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was not serious enough to merit an investigation-- are no longer considered radical inside the GOP."
He is resigned to the coming horror of Democratic Party dysfunction and incompetence at the top that almost guarantees that the Republicans will take over the House next year, "most likely by a considerable margin. Trump already dominates the GOP at the state and local levels, and with the notable exceptions of Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), has a vice-like grip on Republican House members. Even if Trump does not run in 2024, his views and policies now represent mainstream Republican thinking. And even if the Democrats maintain their narrow grip on the Senate, what is left of the reasonable wing of the Republican Senate is about to disappear. The Republican half of the Senate is on the brink of a new, and irresponsible, era. The 2022 election will cement the trend."
Last night, also at The Post, Dana Milbank wrote that "Sarah Palin, rocket scientist, offered her thoughts on the coronavirus vaccine at a far-right conference in Arizona over the weekend. 'It will be over my dead body that I’ll have to get a shot.'... Palin’s talk of dead bodies is on point. By discouraging vaccination, she and Tucker Carlson and the rest of the anti-science right are quite literally getting people killed. Studies show that those living in the most pro-Trump counties in the United States are dying from covid-19 at a rate more than five times higher than in the most anti-Trump counties.
Turning Point USA’s Americafest, where Palin spoke this past weekend, was a revival meeting of the death sect. The group fights coronavirus vaccine mandates, and its leader, Charlie Kirk, told the gathering that the federal government’s top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, “should be in prison.”
The speakers included the usual suspects of the Trump-Fox nexus: Carlson and Palin; Reps. Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert and Jim Jordan; Sen. Ted Cruz; Jesse Watters, Greg Gutfeld and Jeanine Pirro; Donald Trump Jr.; Seb Gorka. Kyle Rittenhouse, recently acquitted after killing two people at a racial-justice demonstration, appeared on Monday.
Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT) said a father who allows his young child to receive an experimental third dose of the vaccine is “a coward.”
Palin told the crowd to “stiffen your spine” in the battle against vaccine requirements. She claimed she had “natural immunity” because she had covid-19 early this year, and therefore, “I won’t do it and, um, they better not touch my kids either.”
Back in September, Palin had boasted on Fox News: “I am one of those White, common-sense conservatives, I believe in science, and I have not taken the shot.” And now she says she won’t take it-- unless and until she’s a dead body.
Thanks to Palin and other death-cult leaders, countless Republicans have become exactly that.
"The Senate Republican Caucus has been the last remaining guardrail preventing Trump’s complete takeover of the Republican Party," wrote Sosnik. That is about to change. There are five senators from what passes for the 'governing wing' of the Republican Party who have announced their retirements: Richard C. Shelby (Alabama), Roy Blunt (Missouri), Richard Burr (North Carolina), Rob Portman (Ohio) and Patrick Toomey (Pennsylvania). Because Trump carried all but one of these states (Pennsylvania) in 2020, it is a safe bet all these men will be replaced by more Trump acolytes. In each of these states, the Republican primary has been a referendum on which candidate is most similar to Trump. [Note: we're betting on Trumpist Eric Greitens losing Missouri to Democratic populist Lucas Kunce next year.]
It is only because of some of the soon-departing establishment Republicans-- and a small handful of others-- that President Biden got a hard infrastructure bill on his desk and an increase in the debt ceiling while at the same time allowing the government to remain open.
Because they control the redistricting process in most states, Republicans have been busy redrawing maps and packing swing districts to provide them with more conservative voters. Since winning a Republican congressional primary is tantamount to winning the general election, the GOP will have spent 2021 creating the conditions that will push the party even further to the right.
It might work: Based on trends since World War II, Republicans will likely rack up big wins in next year’s midterm elections. However, if history is any guide, the GOP will also misinterpret these successes as a mandate for their kind of change.
In 1994, the GOP picked up 54 House seats, eight Senate seats and 10 governorships-- a colossal slaughter among Democrats. Yet Bill Clinton was easily reelected in 1996. In 2010, it happened again as Republicans picked up 63 House seats, six Senate seats, six governorships and 729 state legislative seats. And yet Barack Obama coasted to victory in 2012.
There are signs the GOP is still working from its old playbook. Over the past weekend, a memo was leaked showing that with their expected majority, House Republicans plan two years of investigations of the Biden administration as a way to stoke the culture wars ahead of the 2024 presidential election.
The 2024 election will begin the day after the midterm elections. Trump easily eliminated any candidate he faced during the 2016 primaries, and he now has a much firmer grip on the GOP. That means the safest harbor for aspiring Republican presidential candidates in 2024 is to take as many extreme positions as possible in opposition to Biden and Democrats-- but to do so in a way that avoids Trump’s wrath. This path might position them to fill the Trump vacuum if the former president chooses not to run-- or begin the audition to be on the GOP ticket as vice president if he does.
Is there a way to break this cycle of fascist Republicans following conservative Democrats following fascist Republicans? Or are Americans too preoccupied to figure this neoliberal trap out?