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Utah-- More Or Less, Just Like America... Except Without A Democratic Party

A pair of Utah conservative freaks

Sorry, but conservative Republican Evan McMullin isn’t going to oust Utah fascist Mike Lee and win his state's Senate race, not even with the Democratic Party endorsement. There’s a lot of wishful thinking fueling a lot of hope but… we’re talking about Utah and as repulsive as Mike Lee might seem to an ordinary American, he’s absolutely perfect for a Utah voter. Wake up: he is them; they are him.

The 538 aggregate polling has Lee 8.6 points ahead— 47.7% to 39.2%… and that includes very suspect polls by sketchy Hill Research (working for pro-McMullin Democratic SuperPAC, Put Utah First) whose last two polls have shown McMullin beating Lee by 8 points and in a deadheat within the margin of error. No legitimate polls shows anything like that. The most recent legitimate poll was conducted by Emerson last week and had Lee leading why 10 points— 50 to 40%. 538’s forecast is for a comfortable Lee win— 52.4% to 38.6%.

And yet… millions of dollars, that could be much better spent elsewhere, are being wasted on this race. Lee has raised $10,690,522 and McMullin has done pretty well too: $6,906,220. The extremely corrupt and fascist-oriented Crypto Freedom PAC has spent $1,883,450 smearing McMullin and another $130,373 praising Lee, a total crypto-puppet. Meanwhile, Democrats have funneled almost $5 million into the race through the ad hoc SuperPAC, Put Utah First, which spent $4,045,454 against Lee and $773,073 boosting McMullin. Other big players in the race are the pro-Lee Club For Growth ($4,210,415), Koch’s pro-Lee Americans for Prosperity ($1,465,124), pro-Lee Liberty Champions ($1,564,891), and the pro-Lee Protect Freedom PAC ($850,000).

This morning, reporting for the Associated Press, Sam Metz wrote that “The amount of money pouring into the race reflects how McMullin has turned Utah from a political afterthought to a legitimate battleground.” Or at least made gullible millionaires think it is a legitimate battle ground, which it isn’t. “The outside spending supporting him,” continued Metz, “also illustrates the traditional partisan dynamics at play in the independent-versus-Republican race and the emerging reality that some Democratic Party-aligned groups and donors see McMullin— an anti-abortion conservative— as one path toward preventing Republicans from controlling the Senate… McMullin was endorsed by Utah Democrats in April, insists he would caucus with neither party if elected and holds conservative positions on abortion, guns and government spending.” Perfect for the direction corrupt corporate conservatives in the Democratic Party are dragging Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s former protector of the American working class.

And, overriding McMullin’s conservatism is one fact: he’s a vocal critic of Señor Trumpanzee, enough for Democratic donors to spend millions of dollars on his otherwise pointless race. I might not agree with this strategy, but I do understand it. Did you read the guest editorial in the NY Times yesterday by George Washington University history Professor Matthew Dallek, The Fading Line Between Rhetorical Extremism and Political Violence? Author a a forthcoming book— Birchers: How The John Birch Society Radicalized The American Right— Dallek wrote about the accelerating pace of “erosion of norms restraining extreme behavior” that began pre-Trump but that has totally inundated the GOP since Trump. “Society,” he wrote, “looks as if it is coming apart at the seams.” And its undeniable that Mike Lee— and the vast majority of elected Republican officials— were complicit.

The Reagan-era “government is the problem” language and ideology has been transformed into a philosophy that casts the government as not just a problem but as evil, a threat to the values MAGA supporters hold dear. Under Mr. Trump’s leadership, groups on the right have felt increasingly comfortable incubating, encouraging and carrying out violence.
The consistency of the rhetoric (“enemy of the people”; “Our house is on fire”; “You’re not going to have a country anymore”; “the greatest theft in the history of America”; “Where’s Nancy?”) has ingrained dehumanization of Republican opponents in parts of the political culture; conservatives have often painted their critics as enemies who must be annihilated before they destroy you. As the Department of Homeland Security has reported, domestic violent extremism— such as the white supremacist Charlottesville riots and the Jan. 6 insurrection— is one of the most pressing internal threats facing the United States.
…What’s behind all this? While Democratic leaders for the most part are quick to condemn violence, Republican leaders increasingly minimize its severity or turn a blind eye. The tropes that Republican officials use demonstrate contempt for state authority, including law enforcement; a belief that un-American cadres have captured the government, cultural institutions and businesses; a pervasive distrust of the objective news media; an apocalyptic strain of thinking that America is in grave peril; and an animating acceptance of conspiracy theories and white supremacist sentiments. The peaceful transfer of power has conceded ground to a politics of the street.
Politics in the United States has never been a model of perfect civility and reasoned debate. Still, there have been political leaders of both parties who have consistently condemned domestic extremism and who have called on Americans to respect one another despite political differences. Others have condoned it, tolerated it or ignored it.
…Conspiracy theories amplified by leaders of the American right have functioned as a permission slip to those who might be prone to violence. From notions of the Illuminati to Communists in the State Department and Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories, the belief that un-American forces are conspiring, inside the capital, to bring the country to its knees have a rich and tangled vein in the political fabric.
But the far right has its own, more direct history of conspiracy theories— for instance, Joe McCarthy’s argument that Communists controlled elements of the American government, and the John Birch Society’s insistence that the greatest threat to the United States came from Communists and their dupes inside the White House, the media, religious institutions and higher education.
The difference is that now the Republican Party has taken conspiracy theories into the political mainstream, widening their reach. Once, even hard-line conservatives dismissed such theories: Barry Goldwater, during his 1964 White House run, rejected accusations that the Supreme Court chief justice Earl Warren was a Communist or that enemy agents were in control of recent administrations.
Not so today. Election denialism, the growth of WAnon (Trump called adherents “people that love our country”), the belief that a conspiracy of global elites is stealing the American people’s wealth act to spur Trump’s followers and a sizable minority of voters to conclude that dire steps are required. Social media and partisan news outlets have accelerated the spread of these ideas, but they did not create them.
Historically, white supremacism— so often a traveling companion for conspiracy theories— has been one of the biggest drivers of right-wing political violence. Jim Crow laws in the post-Reconstruction South, resistance to civil rights, and views that African Americans were less than equal (and on some accounts subhuman) erected the architecture that made sustained violence against them possible. With racism coming from Trump for years (“fine people,” the “China virus,” four congresswomen of color ought to “go back” to their countries, Jews better “get their act together”), it’s hardly surprising that the violence in Charlottesville and at the Capitol were infused with a combination of admiration for the former president and white replacement theory (fears that immigrants of color will replace the white population).
Republican leaders of yore, such as Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and both Presidents Bush— though they courted white voters opposed to civil rights— rarely tolerated in public the extremism and conspiracy theories that routinely pass for rhetoric among Trump-supporting candidates. In this regard, what it means to be a conservative has changed, and political violence has accompanied it.
…Until the acceptance of fringe ideas and extremist language and individuals becomes politically costly, and until a set of cultural democratic norms— including the peaceful transfer of power and a healthy tolerance for ideological differences— are restored, we can expect those inspiring political warfare to gain rhetorical strength. We may be entering an even uglier phase in which assaults on lawmakers and their families become routine, and the “apostles” of violence and bigotry gain power.

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