Leave it to David Frum, the Bush speech-writer and warmonger who came up with the term "axis-of-evil" to gin up war hysteria in the U.S., to blame progressives for the deadlock in DC-- which is exactly what he did in his Atlantic column today. He's a hateful little toad who usually makes an attempt at controlling himself so he can pass himself off as a normal member of the commentariat. Today he didn't. After acknowledging that "Where Republicans control local power, they are building a new infrastructure of minority rule," he blamed all the conservative obstruction on progressives. He admitted that conservative-controlled legislatures "are gerrymandering districts, raising barriers to voting, biasing election administration, and politicizing election certification happening." He then unleashed his blind rage against progressives, noting that the Democratic establishment isn't responding not because they are "too paralyzed to respond" nor because of "blithe inattention" but because of "self-harming overreach by party activists."
His first instinct, of course, is to blame black Democrats for the "packing" in gerrymandered states like Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina, where Democrats have no say in drawing boundaries. "Gerrymanders improve Republican election outcomes—but also deliver super-safe seats to minority officeholders. The reform bills would promote independent commissions in place of partisan gerrymandering. That project would boost Democratic prospects in general, but could threaten Black Democratic incumbents."
But what really enrages conservative like Frum is his second excuse: "The House versions of the reform bills take aim at big money in politics by offering federal matching grants to campaign contributions of up to $200 in the amazing ratio of 6 to 1: Donate $200 to the congressional candidate of your choice, and you would also direct their way an additional $1,200 in federal money. That plan horrifies many mainstream Democrats, who interpret it as a massive windfall for unelectable left-wing insurgent candidates running primary campaigns against more electable centrists." The bill passed the House and if the conservatives in the Senate-- whether Republicans or Democrats-- want to change it, they should. No one is going to hold up passing the bill because of a ratio.
Frum, always the whiny little bitch when it comes to progressives and progressive ideas wrote that "It’s squabbles among the passengers, not dilatoriness by the conductors, that have sidetracked the train. National Democrats are more vulnerable to such internecine squabbles than Trumpified state Republican parties. Both national Democrats and state Republicans want power, obviously. But their respective routes to power-- and their goals for using it-- vary enormously." He isn't stupid at all and he knows how to hit some points anyone can agree with-- like about the Democrats dysfunctional big tent politics:
The Democratic coalition is a broad one; the Republican coalition is a narrow one. The Democratic coalition has a long agenda; the Republican coalition has a short one. Above all, the Democratic Party is divided by the many different things its members want to do; the Republican Party is united by a shared determination to block the things that Democrats want to do. A disparate majority loosely committed to diverging goals will have difficulty imposing its will on a cohesive minority strongly committed to a singular goal.
Tom Nichols-- like Frum a conservative and former Republican-- is a less biased and more trustworthy Atlantic columnist and this morning he put the blame where it belonged: The GOP Now Stands For Nothing, noting that the Republicans blocking the establishment of a sedition commission have had "their spines crushed by years of obedience to Donald Trump... This latest insult to the rule of law and the Constitution was possible only because the Republicans have already lost confidence in their own principles. The GOP now stands for nothing. The party of Lincoln has become, in every way, a political and moral nullity... Today’s Republicans exist only to stay in power, not least so that their elected officials can avoid what they dread most: being sent home to live among their constituents. The conservative writer George Will is right that the Republican Party in 2021 has become 'something new in American history,' a 'political party defined by the terror it feels for its own voters.' Republican legislators should be scared. Their base is an angry white minority that cares nothing about government; its members want their elected officials to rule by hook or by crook, the Constitution and democracy itself be damned, and they don’t want any guff about namby-pamby ideas or policies. They want the elections controlled, the institutions captured, and the libs owned. The rest, to them, is just noise."
The survival instinct that this white-minority rage has triggered in craven Republican politicians is how the GOP mutated from a party championing individual liberty into a movement pushing monstrously statist authoritarianism. It is how the party of limited government began agitating for government truth ministries. It is how the party of exuberant free marketeers became a cabal of crony capitalists and knee-jerk protectionists. It is how the party that once fought Kremlin expansionism provided top cover for Russian intelligence attacks against U.S. institutions.
Republicans have tried to argue that if they are not in power, the Democrats and their ultraliberal allies will destroy our system of government and create a majoritarian nightmare. We must stay in power, they mewl, so that democracy itself will survive long enough to outlive the encroaching authoritarianism of the left.
These defenses are risible nonsense in the wake of Trump’s constitutional mayhem and the GOP’s descent into conspiratorial lunacy. But even on their own terms, Republican excuses are little more than lightly veiled defenses of minority rule. The GOP long ago abandoned any effort to convince women, people of color, immigrants, and others that the party had a place for them. Instead, Republicans in Congress have surrendered to the ignorance and racism of their most extreme voters in exchange for a continued life of privilege inside the comforting embrace of the Capital Beltway.
The Republicans, facing an investigation into an insurrection provoked by their own leader, have armored up and gone into armadillo mode. They will protect their own—rather than their nation and the Constitution they swore to defend. This behavior should serve as a warning: A party that doesn’t believe in anything ends up believing only in its right to rule. And a movement that believes only in its own power is a deadly enemy of constitutional democracy.
Only 6 Republicans had the guts to vote to break McConnell's filibuster of the commission today: Susan Collins (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Mitt Romney (UT), Ben Sasse (NE), Bill Cassidy (LA) and Rob Portman (OH). Only Murkowski is up for reelection in 2022. Toomey, who, like Portman, is retiring at the end of 2022, wasn't in Washington today but a spokesperson said he would have voted for cloture. The NY Times' Giovanni Russonello pointed out that Republican QAnon believers now outnumber some mainstream religions and that these are the same people-- many heavily armed-- who believe that what they call "patriots" but what other see as low-IQ, brainwashed sociopaths "may have to resort to violence."