In 2020 Liz Cheney won her Wyoming GOP primary with 73.5%. The voters appreciated her ultra-reactionary, hawkish and viciously partisan stands. The most politically-backward state in the union— which gave Trump his highest percentage that year (69.9%, far worse than any Confederate state), had their hero. This year, she’s just as reactionary in her vision and just as hawkish. But last might she was beaten by Harriet Hageman, a formerly anti-Trump Republican, 113,025 (66.3%) to 49,316 (28.9%). Many of Cheney’s votes came from Democrats. She won 2 of Wyoming’s 23 counties— Albany and Teton, the same two counties Biden won. What changed? We all know: tribal identity.
The primitive Wyoming electorate see themselves not so much as Republicans per se as Trumpists. Hageman switched from anti-Trump to pro-Trump (and, more important, had Trump’s total endorsement) and Cheney switched from pro-Trump to anti-Trump and became the symbol for anti-Trumpism. Writing for the L.A. Times last night, Mark Barabak reported that Cheney’s loss “was the repudiation of values and a worldview that have shaped the Republican Party for well over a generation. It was also a thickheaded denial of reality and the stone-cold fact that Trump lost the 2020 election and schemed and lied to deny it, sacrificing safety and the country’s stability on the altar of his infinite ego… ‘What it means to be a Republican these days … is being loyal to your tribe. It not about issues. It’s basically whatever Trump says it is.’ Which means very little focus on governing and a great deal of energy expended on grudges and settling old scores. It also means ignoring policy initiatives and political philosophy, the drivers of conservative achievement since the Reagan era, in favor of pugnacity and purging those deemed insufficiently obedient to the GOP’s ruler-in-exile.”
American politics appears more about this kind of tribalism than about either issues or quality of candidates. And it isn’t just in Wyoming or inside GOP politics. I dare say most voters know who they’re voting for (“the Democrat” or “the Republican”) even before the candidate has been nominated. It’s why gerrymandering works so well to undermine democracy.
So what’s all this got to do with Robert Reich and the crypto-billionaires? Yesterday he talked about the dangers posed by the crypto snake oil gripping the country. You should watch that video up top if you haven’t already. “It’s a Ponzi scheme. Like all Ponzi schemes, getting rich depends on how many other investors follow you into it— until somebody’s left holding the worthless crypto coin. Why isn’t this market regulated? Well, follow the money. The crypto industry is pouring huge amounts into political campaigns… But all Ponzi schemes topple eventually— just like the Wild West finances of the 1920s.”
Reich concluded that “If we should’ve learned anything from the crashed of 1929 and 2008, it’s that regulation of financial markets is essential. Otherwise they turn into Ponzi schemes— leaving small investors with nothing and endangering the entire economy. It’s time for the Biden administration and Congress to end the crypto Ponzi scheme.”
What he doesn’t mention is that one of the worst— if not the worst— of the crypto-billionaires, Sam Bankman-Fried, was Biden’s #2 single biggest contributor and that he is financing corrupt conservative politicians with immense sums of money.
Wisdom-free young political adventurers on both sides of the aisle have been taken in by the lure of crypto’s get-rich-quick ethos. Worst in the current Congress was North Carolina doofus Madison Cawthorn. It didn't become a campaign issue but the right-wing Washington Examiner reported that Cawthorn appears to have violated federal insider trading laws "as he hyped up an alleged pump-and-dump cryptocurrency scheme." He became involved with the scammy meme coin-- a Let's Go Brandon cryptocurrency. It's worthless now and, I'll admit that when I think of the kind of morons who would buy that... well, I hope they lost their homes and are trying to cope with new lives now. Cawthorn posted this on his popular instagram page: "LGB legends... Tomorrow we go to the moon!" The next day NASCAR driver Brandon Brown announced that the meme coin would be the primary sponsor of his 2022 season, causing LGBCoin's value to spike by 75%." Think Cawthorn, who owns LGBCoin, had advance warning that that was coming? The Department of Justice does-- and is investigating. The sordid story gets worse. Immediately following Cawthorn's Instagram post and Brandon's announcement, the value of all LGBCoin in circulation eclipsed $570 million. By the end of January, the market cap of the meme coin dropped to zero. "Insiders"-- like Cawthorn?-- who owned an outsize share of LGBCoin dumped all their holdings at once, causing the coin's market value to evaporate. Tomorrow CPAC's annual conclave opens in Budapest. I don't know if Cawthorn will be there but at last year's CPAC he was hyping LGBCoin to the suckers. "I got Let's Go Brandon coin... It's working out well, very well."
And on the other side of the aisle, we actually have a pretend progressive, a 25 year old Uber driver who put on a “progressive” tribal label the way you might put on a t-shirt— Maxwell Frost. He calls himself “homeless” but lives in his parents 4-bedroom house and claims, falsely, to be a victim of police brutality and, again falsely, gun violence. And Bankman-Fried decided he was a good investment and put nearly a million dollars into his campaign for Congress (so far). He’s already started a crypto advisory board, one of whose members actually said “To function, a republic needs its citizens such as Charles Hoskinson, Sam Bankman-Fried, and Ken Griffin to provide the intellectual guidance to help our elected officials generate the right policy climate.” A progressive Democrat, huh? The less-dependable-by-the-day Progressive Caucus sure fell for it.