A new Data For Progress poll shows that voters-- across the board, and unlike Joe Pausin' Manchin-- overwhelmingly support Biden's Build Back Better agenda and want the wealthy and corporations to pay their fair share (including 64% of independents). Let's start with the big specific components of the bill.
Data for Progress reported that "The poll found that 69% of voters, including 81% of Democrats, 68% of Independents, and 55% of Republicans, support passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal. Additionally, 61% of voters, including 83% of Democrats, 58% of Independents, and 40% of Republicans, support passage of the Build Back Better agenda through reconciliation. The poll also found that 60% of voters, including 64% of Independents, believe that the wealthy and large corporations should pay their fair share of taxes so that the U.S. can invest in long-term care for seniors, healthcare, and clean energy initiatives. Voters also overwhelmingly oppose cutting a single major provision of the Build Back Better agenda."
Universal pre-kindergarten for all 3- and 4-year-olds
Two Years of tuition-free community college
Lowering the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 60
Repairing and modernizing K-12 school buildings
Investing in long-term care for seniors and people with disabilities
Providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, those who work in essential industries, and for people who would be unsafe returning to their country of origin
Modernizing the electric grid, improving reliability and funding new research
Creating A Civilian Climate Corps to add jobs to address climate change conservative
Extending child tax benefits for families
Lindsey Graham, by the way, voted-- along with 19 other Senate Republicans including Mitch McConnell-- for the "hard" conservative infrastructure bill. Last week the York Co. Republican Party censured him, something the Aiken County GOP already had done. "The local party," reported Cailyn Derickson, "which has had a strong influence in the York County area, said Graham did not 'represent conservative values and protect the Republican platform' when he voted in favor of the bill, which focuses on bridge and road repairs, electric vehicle charging station expansion and broadband expansion... [They claimed he] 'turned his back on the Republican Party platform, those who worked to get him elected, and has put America’s interests second to China.' The local Republican Party plans to present the censure, a formal statement of disapproval in the form of a resolution, to the state Republican Party."
So... now you know. The members of Congress aren't leading the base over the fascist cliff. The radicalized base is pushing the members over that cliff. And how did that happen? Ah... good question. And a team from ProPublica set out to investigate and answer the questions about how the local party is being taken over by Nazis and other assorted fascists. They blame Steve Bannon, who was certainly in on the planning stages of the attempted coup. The day before, he crowed on his neo-Nazi War Room podcast that "All hell will break loose tomorrow" and then, on the morning of: "It’s them against us. Who can impose their will on the other side?"
In February, right after Trump pardoned him for federal fraud crimes, Bannon claimed Trump lost because the Republican Party sold him out. "This is your call to action" and he announced that the solution "was to seize control of the GOP from the bottom up. Listeners should flood into the lowest rung of the party structure: the precincts. 'It’s going to be a fight, but this is a fight that must be won, we don’t have an option,' Bannon said on his show in May. 'We’re going to take this back village by village … precinct by precinct.' Precinct officers are the worker bees of political parties, typically responsible for routine tasks like making phone calls or knocking on doors. But collectively, they can influence how elections are run. In some states, they have a say in choosing poll workers, and in others they help pick members of boards that oversee elections."
After Bannon’s endorsement, the “precinct strategy” rocketed across far-right media. Viral posts promoting the plan racked up millions of views on pro-Trump websites, talk radio, fringe social networks and message boards, and programs aligned with the QAnon conspiracy theory.
Suddenly, people who had never before showed interest in party politics started calling the local GOP headquarters or crowding into county conventions, eager to enlist as precinct officers. They showed up in states Trump won and in states he lost, in deep-red rural areas, in swing-voting suburbs and in populous cities.
...ProPublica contacted GOP leaders in 65 key counties, and 41 reported an unusual increase in signups since Bannon’s campaign began. At least 8,500 new Republican precinct officers (or equivalent lowest-level officials) joined those county parties. We also looked at equivalent Democratic posts and found no similar surge.
“I’ve never seen anything like this, people are coming out of the woodwork,” said J.C. Martin, the GOP chairman in Polk County, Florida, who has added 50 new committee members since January. Martin had wanted congressional Republicans to overturn the election on Jan. 6, and he welcomed this wave of like-minded newcomers. “The most recent time we saw this type of thing was the tea party, and this is way beyond it.”
...What’s different this time is an uncompromising focus on elections themselves. The new movement is built entirely around Trump’s insistence that the electoral system failed in 2020 and that Republicans can’t let it happen again. The result is a nationwide groundswell of party activists whose central goal is not merely to win elections but to reshape their machinery.
“They feel President Trump was rightfully elected president and it was taken from him,” said Michael Barnett, the GOP chairman in Palm Beach County, Florida, who has enthusiastically added 90 executive committee members this year. “They feel their involvement in upcoming elections will prevent something like that from happening again.”
...Some of the new precinct officers were in the crowd that marched to the Capitol on Jan. 6, according to interviews and social media posts; one Texas precinct chair was arrested for assaulting police in Washington. He pleaded not guilty. Many of the new activists have said publicly that they support QAnon, the online conspiracy theory that believes Trump was working to root out a global child sex trafficking ring. Organizers of the movement have encouraged supporters to bring weapons to demonstrations. In Las Vegas and Savannah, Georgia, newcomers were so disruptive that they shut down leadership elections.
“They’re not going to be welcomed with open arms,” Bannon said, addressing the altercations on an April podcast. “But hey, was it nasty at Lexington?” he said, citing the opening battle of the American Revolution. “Was it nasty at Concord? Was it nasty at Bunker Hill?”
...In Raleigh, North Carolina, more than 1,000 people attended the county GOP convention in March, up from the typical 300 to 400. The chair they elected, Alan Swain, swiftly formed an “election integrity committee” that’s lobbying lawmakers to restrict voting and audit the 2020 results. “We’re all about voter and election integrity,” Swain said in an interview.
In the rural western part of the state, too, a wave of people who heard Bannon’s podcast or were furious about perceived election fraud swept into county parties, according to the new district chair, Michele Woodhouse. The district’s member of Congress, Rep. Madison Cawthorn, addressed a crowd at one county headquarters on Aug. 29, at an event that included a raffle for a shotgun.
“If our election systems continue to be rigged and continue to be stolen, it’s going to lead to one place, and it’s bloodshed,” Cawthorn said, in remarks livestreamed on Facebook, shortly after holding the prize shotgun, which he autographed. “That’s right,” the audience cheered. Cawthorn went on, “As much as I’m willing to defend our liberty at all costs, there’s nothing that I would dread doing more than having to pick up arms against a fellow American, and the way we can have recourse against that is if we all passionately demand that we have election security in all 50 states.”
After Cawthorn referred to people arrested on Jan. 6 charges as “political hostages,” someone asked, “When are you going to call us to Washington again?” The crowd laughed and clapped as Cawthorn answered, “We are actively working on that one.”
...In Michigan, activists who identify with a larger movement working against Republicans willing to accept Trump’s loss have captured the party leadership in about a dozen counties. They’re directly challenging state party leaders, who are trying to harness the grassroots energy without indulging demands to keep fighting over the last election.
Some of the takeovers happened before the rise of the precinct strategy. But the activists are now organizing under the banner “Precinct First” and holding regular events, complete with notaries, to sign people up to run for precinct delegate positions.
“We are reclaiming our party,” Debra Ell, one of the organizers, told ProPublica. “We’re building an ‘America First’ army.
Under normal rules, the wave of new precinct delegates could force the party to nominate far-right candidates for key state offices. That’s because in Michigan, party nominees for attorney general, secretary of state and lieutenant governor are chosen directly by party delegates rather than in public primaries. But the state party recently voted to hold a special convention earlier next year, which should effectively lock in candidates before the new, more radical delegates are seated.
Activist-led county parties including rural Hillsdale and Detroit-area Macomb are also censuring Republican state legislators for issuing a June report on the 2020 election that found no evidence of systemic fraud and no need for a reexamination of the results like the one in Arizona. (The censures have no enforceable impact beyond being a public rebuke of the politicians.) At the same time, county party leaders in Hillsdale and elsewhere are working on a ballot initiative to force an Arizona-style election review.
Establishment Republicans have their own idea for a ballot initiative-- one that could tighten rules for voter ID and provisional ballots while sidestepping the Democratic governor’s veto. If the initiative collects hundreds of thousands of valid signatures, it would be put to a vote by the Republican-controlled state Legislature. Under a provision of the state constitution, the state Legislature can adopt the measure and it can’t be vetoed.
State party leaders recently reached out to the activists rallying around the rejection of the presidential election results, including Hillsdale Republican Party Secretary Jon Smith, for help. Smith, Ell and others agreed to join the effort, the two activists said.
“This empowers them,” Jason Roe, the state party executive director whose ouster the activists demanded because he said Trump was responsible for his own loss, told ProPublica. Roe resigned in July, citing unrelated reasons. “It’s important to get them focused on change that can actually impact” future elections, he said, “instead of keeping their feet mired in the conspiracy theories of 2020.”
The storm troopers are leading the parades and the would-be Hitlers like Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton, Ron DeSantis are running to keep up and trying desperately to get to the front.