Reasonable Conservatives Not In Fashion With Today’s Republican Party

If you want to know what the base of the modern Republican Party looks like, sounds like, and acts like requires no more than looking at political events over just the past few days as we ramp up to the mid-term elections. While it is one thing to differ from the GOP on policy matters, be it climate change or tax cuts, or curtailing guns it is the deranged base of the party which underscores how unmoored they have become with the rest of society.

This past weekend Texas Republicans held their state convention, and if there had been a public relations team on hand there is no doubt they quickly left to drown themselves in Lone Star beer. What transpired from the loony delegates not only shows how extreme and far-rightward they are lurching, but how reckless they are with democracy itself.

The party adopted a resolution that rejected President Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential election. In so doing they threw their arms ever more firmly around Donald Trump. Texan Republicans fully embraced the unfounded claims about election fraud.

Having displayed their zeal to hold onto the mantle of absurdity they then moved on to also proving to be purely preposterous. That was achieved by voting on a platform that criticized homosexuality as “an abnormal lifestyle choice.” No need to talk any longer about the ‘big tent’ when it comes to the GOP, and chalk this up as just the latest reason why younger and more diverse voters are dismissive of conservatives. There is also no need to ask why conservatives get tagged as stupid and bigoted.

Meanwhile, in Georgia conservatives have applauded their senate nominee, Herschel Walker, who fathered three previously undisclosed children by multiple women.

This walking disaster of a candidate had the audacity in 2019 to state that Black men needed to go into neighborhoods and become “fathers of those fatherless” children. I guess conservatives have given their old talking point about personal responsibility and family values the heave-ho for this election cycle.

In Missouri, Republican Senate candidate Eric Greitens, the disgraced governor, has an ad running in which he brandishes a shotgun and declares he is on the hunt for so-called RINOS, or Republicans in name only.

Meanwhile, Trump supporters and the vilest of their tribe shouted obscenities and threats at the home of Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers as his daughter, Kacey, was dying inside it. As Bowers stated this week at the Jan 6 House committee hearing, he refused to undermine the election results from his state, and would not budge from his application of law and order.

In the weeks that followed, Bowers’s neighborhood in Mesa, a suburb east of Phoenix, was practically occupied at times by caravans of Trump supporters.

They screamed at Bowers through bullhorns, filmed his home and led parades to ridicule him that featured a civilian military-style truck. At one point, a man showed up with a gun and was threatening Bowers’s neighbor.

“When I saw the gun, I knew I had to get close,” he testified.

Enraged pro-Trump voters unsuccessfully sought to recall Bowers, and Bowers said they distributed fliers accusing him of corruption and pedophilia.

It is truly concerning for the politics of our time, and for the very nature of democracy itself, that a rather staggering number of Trump’s most vociferous, foul, and unbalanced followers are proving to be violent and hostile. Republicans, like Bowers, were at one time the mainstay of the party. That was a time when it could be honestly stated that there were perfectly reasonable conservatives.

They traded away their credibility, first by supporting the Tea Party and airheads like Sarah Palin, and then allowed the party to be hijacked by Trump. Today, no actual conservative party policy idea can surface as the saturation of crazy has dominated every aspect of the GOP. There is no oxygen in the room to talk about ideas as there is a past election outcome to excoriate. And gay people to verbally berate.

As if the delegates at the Texas convention understood what berate even meant.

Another Republican Candidate Wants To Jail Political Opponents

As a politico, I enjoy the back-and-forth of election season. Our nation has always produced steamy rhetoric that riles the opponents while energizing the base of the antagonist. But there is also the obvious recognition that in a democracy there are lines that should not be crossed. Must not be crossed.

Such as in the case with Scott Jensen, a Minnesota Republican candidate for governor.

GOP governor candidate Scott Jensen told Republicans that “the hammer’s coming down” on Secretary of State Steve Simon for his management of the state’s election system.

Minnesota GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen took a “lock him up” message on the campaign trail recently, suggesting that Secretary of State Steve Simon deserved imprisonment for his management of the state’s election system.

Speaking April 23 at the Minnesota Third Congressional District Republican organizing convention in Plymouth, Jensen sparked loud cheers from the crowd when he warned that “the hammer’s coming down” on Simon, a DFLer.

“We are not voter suppressors. We have a simple attitude: Make sure that every ballot in the box belongs there. Make sure that it’s easy to vote, hard to cheat, and if you cheat, you’re going to jail,” Jensen said. “And Steve Simon, you maybe better check out to see if you look good in stripes, because you’ve gotten away with too much, too long under [Minnesota Attorney General Keith] Ellison, and the hammer’s coming down.”

It does not require being a Rhodes Scholar to grasp at once that states or countries with the types of laws or reckless behavior that allow for winners in elections to imprison the losers of those elections, or other political opponents, are not ones we can say are democratic. The Republican Party has candidates who have used this idea of imprisoning political opponents since 2016 when Donald Trump stated, that if elected, he would pursue actions to imprison his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Such rhetoric was rancid them. It is equally reprehensible now.

One can say the GOP candidates who mimic such dangerous words from Trump do not have fertile minds, needing to regurgitate old lingo to the base of the party. If the best they can offer are echoes of an autocratic personality, what pray tell, do they offer for today’s electorate?

We know, of course, that what has been unleashed on the nation since Trump took an escalator ride has proven to be toxic for our political culture. So consider for one moment–one paragraph–what could happen if the likes of Jensen were to prevail. How might Allen Drury see the lay of that political landscape unfold in a book?

If Senator Seabright Cooley thought that a lost election would result in physical harm might he not do anything to ensure that the election was not lost? Surely Drury would see where this leads. The candidate who made the threat knows the opponent will now fight harder and the pursuit of extreme and dangerous moves is unleashed. Democracy suffers.

But who cares when there is a Republican rally with angry males waiting for red meat rhetoric like feeding time at a zoo? And make no mistake about itthis rhetoric is aimed at males. Forget the responsibility that comes with a candidate taking a stage, and while wanting to gain support on the one hand, also knowing that larger duties to state and nation need to be upheld.

We know from the evidence what follows when rhetoric like Jensen is used. What follows is an uptick in violent rhetoric being espoused from the base. It is lost on the candidates who sow such anger, and certainly from the demographics who are being played to, that decorum and civility are essential parts of a working democracy.

Republicans like to claim they are for law and order. But what is being demonstrated again and again, as with Jensen, is a large gap between a principle and what is actually being said to their base. Violent and undemocratic speech is harmful.

And so it goes.

Could Republicans Get Over Their Skis In November Mid-Terms?

Dealing with Michael Gableman in Wisconsin has been frustrating on the one hand, but one must admit, entertaining on the other. He can not do any damage in the near term as the 2020 elections were fairly conducted. But might his actions and provocative comments fester and cause problems for independent voters as they weigh Republican candidates in the fall midterms?

What the Badger State is watching play out is similar to a host of places around the nation where far-right voices are still waging their lost battle over the last election. Worse for the larger needs of the Republican Party are those candidates who have tethered themselves to this past election train, thinking it is a winning formula.

I was struck this weekend by the number of news stories that underscored the depth of miscalculation that conservative candidates are taking to play to the angriest and most misguided within the Republican Party.

Consider the Georgia primary for governor.

“The first 23 minutes of the debate revolved around Perdue’s efforts to blame Kemp for Donald Trump’s loss in 2020 and the senator’s defeat in 2021.”

As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution stated, “Many of Perdue’s allegations were flat-out false.”

Meanwhile in Michigan this weekend the state GOP Convention was held.

If this is the last time you ever hear the names Matt DePerno and Kristina Karamo, you’ll be lucky. They are the conspiracy-driven Trump-picked candidates for Michigan attorney general and secretary of state that the state GOP endorsed as candidates in its convention on Saturday.

Their outlandish insistence that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump has led to considerable fractures within the Michigan Republican Party. As such, they’re viewed as longshots who will be unable to unite the party, win over independents, and beat the incumbent Democrats, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.

This weekend The Atlantic wrote at length about the highly-questionable nature of the Republicans this mid-term cycle, reminding readers of Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock, Sharron Angle, and Christine O’Donnell. Looking at what is unfolding in many places around the nation it might be summed up this way.

Yet the GOP may be stuck with candidates whose pockmarked, and in a few cases, scandal-filled, résumés could render them unelectable—or at least they would have in an earlier era.

Time will tell, for sure.

As we know, and as Senator Mitch McConnell conceded in a recent comment on this larger issue, “How could you screw this up? It’s actually possible. And we’ve had some experience with that in the past.”

The Republican Party thought the Tea Party movement a great idea, felt at one time Sarah Palin was a breath of fresh air and welcomed Donald Trump into their fold. But to do all that the party needed to trim back on logic, actual policy ideas, decorum, and self-respect.

The question that will be better answered in November is just how far the general voting public agrees, or not, with this rightward move by the GOP that often rejects proven facts. And certainly common sense.

And so it goes.

French Voters Reject Fascist Presidential Candidate, Third National Defeat For Marine Le Pen As Emmanuel Macron Scores Wide Margin Of Victory

As one of the walkers on the Madison isthmus reminded me this afternoon as I planted roses, and we talked of the French presidential election, there were still four in 10 voters who cast a ballot for a fascist candidate. As one who worries about democracy not only in our nation but in countries around the globe, she did not need to remind me. I told her it was the older voters in France who well recall their history and then correctly cast their ballot for Emmanuel Macron.

And saved their country from the ruinous racism, white nationalism, and xenophobia of Marine Le Pen.

There was no way to successfully soft-pedal or sell Le Pen’s blows against Muslims or her tirades against Algerians. One can not rift about inflation one minute and then next pour scalding rhetoric upon Muslim women and their headscarves and not have reasoned voters go what the hell is wrong with her?

There was no hairstyle or consultant-driven outfits that could wash away Le Pens’ overt and constant racism.

Or her admiration for Russian President Putin.

French voters did not forget that Le Pen repeated her support for Putin’s assault on Crimea and her opposition to the EU sanctions at that time in response to the annexation. It was a mere 38 days after Russia invaded Ukraine that Le Pen stated, that Putin “could become an ally of France again” if the war ends.

If the hate-mongering from Le Pen was not enough to deeply draw concern, the threats she posed to NATO policy and the unity of the European Union surely would have done so. Why the far-right finds it a natural fit to cozy with Putin is one reason they must be viewed with suspicion when on the ballot. As voters proved today in France.

The close ties that Macron has established between France and the rest of Western Europe and the United States are the hallmark of what constitutes a solid working relationship. Now consider the angry populism and white nationalistic bombast from Le Pen, and ask yourself what would have befallen France and Europe had she operated from the presidential office? Putin would have won a second war without even needing to have fired one missile westward.

Macron has five years to now focus on a leadership role in the EU, with the absence of Germany’s outsized role of Angela Merkel. He can now press forward with his “More Europe” perspective and agenda.

As the woman who talked with me in the sunshine said of today’s election, Le Pen may have plenty of supporters, but the collective wisdom of the majority of mainstream French voters simply would not allow for a fascist to become the next French president.

Thank you to the majority of French voters for your concern for democracy.

And so it goes.

Wasilla Hillbilly Looks For Comeback, But Alaska Voters Deserve Competence, Must Reject Sarah Palin

There seems always to be a tug for nostalgia in the nation. Bringing back fond memories of the past makes it possible, for example, that Alex O’Loughlin reprises the role of Steve McGarrett in Hawaii Five-0. The role played by Jack Lord in the 1970s.

But not everything that has rusted, been used, and placed in the garbage should be taken out and offered a new shine. That is especially true when it comes to Sarah Palin, who is prowling for a new gig at the trough of public tax dollars.

Alaskan voters are being asked to weigh in on nearly 50 candidates for that state’s lone member of the House of Representatives. With raccoon-like glee, Palin has latched onto that shiny hope for a chance to get an annual income and at the same time ramp up her level of bombast with air-time in the crazy-land of conservative media.

The people of Alaska, however, deserve competent and intelligent leadership with their sole House representative. They require an elected person seeking to lift up the needs of the voters and not the hi-jinks and embarrassments that come with the Wasilla Hillbillies.

When Palin landed in the ‘lower 48’ in 2008 as part of Republican John McCain’s presidential ticket–a move that should have been viewed as an act of terrorism–the nation was treated to years of outrageous behavior from that entire family. It also allowed the GOP to sadly–both for the party and country–to hatch many of their own who thought saying ridiculous things and acting in horrid ways was now also their right.

Trying to make Palin acceptable then has left the Republican Party weaker today. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Madison Cawthorn are the ilks that have followed in the footsteps of Palin. Meanwhile, the modern-day Jack Kemps can not even consider a step into GOP politics as they do not wish to need to lower themselves into the slime that is required now to compete.

In Alaska, a state which is filled with beauty and grander and one I wish to return to for a much longer visit, well recalls the very public divorce of the one who now wants to be a member of congress.

Todd Palin cited when filing for divorce “incompatibility of temperament” and stated he found it “impossible to live together as husband and wife.” Well, duh!

What took Todd so long to discover that fact can long be pondered. I have often suggested that what keeps marriages healthy and thriving is a good dose of laughter. But that would not have been possible with Todd as one should not be always laughing at the other spouse. 

But when it comes to Sarah Palin what can one do other than just laugh at her?

The voters of Alaska need to have a member of congress who is respected. They need their own updated version of Jack Lord.

And so it goes.

Ranked-Choice Voting And Strengthening Our Democracy

My husband, James, grew up in Maine, so we follow news from there regularly. One of the continuous themes we talk about is the use of ranked-choice voting in the Pine Tree State. Years ago, I frowned on the concept as it appeared to have the effect of undermining political parties. But the more I read and ponder this method of voting, I must admit there is some appeal to be found.

One of the reasons I questioned ranked voting was the notion that what ailed our political culture could be addressed with a procedural change in the balloting process. It has always been my contention that the sham of redistricting and the volume of campaign money, and how it is used, is far more of an issue needing corrective measures.

I arrive at this issue today as a column written by Mona Charen landed in front of me from the Bangor Daily News. Since the dawn of the Tea Party types, and certainly, since 2015 when Donald Trump took to an escalator, I have often thought about ways our democracy needs to strengthen its foundations. How our politics must break away from the deeply corrosive nature, and at times utterly bizarre course it has taken.

Charen writes powerfully and persuasively with reasons we should talk about ranked voting.

The party duopoly empowers the most extreme voters and leaves the vast middle unrepresented and feeling that in general elections they must choose the lesser of two evils. As Katherine Gehl, founder of the Institute for Political Innovation, notes, about 10 percent of voters (those who vote in primaries) determine the outcome of 83 percent of congressional races. And because primary voters tend to be more ideological and extreme than others, candidates pander to them to get elected and then to remain in office. The term “primary” became a verb only in the last decade or so, as the power of the party zealots became a cudgel to use against any member who even considered compromising with the other party.

Not only does the ranked-choice system disempower party extremists, it also discourages candidates from savage personal attacks, the persistence of which arguably keeps some fine people out of politics altogether. Candidates are less likely to attack one another if they hope to be the second choice of the other person’s voters.

The two-party system has not proven to be a solid foundation for democracy. Time to disarm the crazies.

I have strongly noted on CP my disdain for members of congress being placed in a primary for the simple reason they had the audacity to reach across the aisle and try to work with a member of the other party. Yet, that happens. As I noted on this blog in 2012. I much acknowledge Cheren’s point that strident-minded partisans pick the candidate in a primary, and I might add that when winning the general, the result tilts the legislative chamber to more partisan ends.

Ask conservative Republican U.S. Senator Bennett how his election in 2010 fared after he dared to venture into working partnerships with Democrats on the issues that impacted the nation. He lost his seat, in part for working with ‘the other side’.

But I differ with Charen when she believes that ranked voting will wither the extremists. As we are all too aware much of the campaigning is not done by the candidates presenting themselves to the town square for debates and conversations, but rather through television and also harsh, unrelenting ideologically-composed political action committees. Those entities are not going away.

This brings this post back to one of my main contentions that money must be reigned in and strictly ordered in how it can be used in campaigns. I very well understand that I am whistling in the wind, but the political culture all around us underscores that we are in much need of solutions to strengthen our democracy.

As such, I applaud Mona Charen for adding a reasoned voice to the discussion.

And so it goes.

Blocking Vile Marine Le Pen Main Goal This Weekend

Illiberal democracy continues to be a theme on Caffeinated Politics. This weekend it is the people of France who carry the responsibility of rejecting the dangerous and racist messaging of Marine Le Pen, as she seeks power in France’s presidential elections.

Attempting to soften years of fascism is a tall order but with slick styling and consultant-driven word usage, the third time attempt by Le Pen to wrest control of government into the hands of the far-right is making for nervousness among electors. And the world community.

It is the hope here that President Emmanuel Macron, a fave politico at this desk due to his economic plans and much-needed-reforms with an almost JFK style of being himself and finding joy in governing, will garner the needed 50% of the vote. What stirs anxiety, however, is the degree of buy-in the voters will have for the repackaging of Le Pen, a vile racist, and a danger to democratic institutions.

The anti-immigrant rhetoric has continued as she blusters that she will punish Muslims who wear headscarves in public and will use police to enforce such a policy in the same manner that seatbelts are imposed upon drivers. I would argue the cultural turning of the screw must not be on the women who are subjugated but on the men who force the matter upon their wives and sisters.

The hate-filled rhetoric over the years from Le Pen about Islam and what constitutes national identity in France shows who she is, as opposed to now tossing back her hair and opining about consumer high prices. Let us be honest and note that when viewing her campaign in 2022–through the BBC and newspapers both France and here in the states, one thing is abundantly clear.

There is still a powerful undertow from Le Pen about resenting diversity and furthering France’s divisions. She has structured a campaign to make more of a distance between city and rural voters, those with an upper income and those of modest means, and especially and most disgustedly between “native” French people and immigrants.

Cultural nationalism has been the root cause of so much misery throughout the pages of history and Le Pen stokes that fire both overtly and covertly. Her recent campaign has not diluted her views, just the words used to lure people who have economic angst to her camp. But ask what she thinks about gay and transgender rights, Algerians, and any notion about diversity and you find a cancer that is central to her philosophy.

Politics takes precedence over law, she says.

In a liberal democracy that can never be a path taken by the leader of a country. Racism and the fear of ‘others’ can not be the driving force for any leader in the 21st century.

And yet Le Pen has warned–or is that promised–the first measure she will undertake will be a bill on immigration and identity.

As I said earlier in this post when describing Le Pen, she is vile.

And so it goes.

My Endorsement Of David Blaska Makes Front Page Of Wisconsin State Journal

This is from the bottom of today’s front page of the Wisconsin State Journal. Please go vote as this is Spring Election day in Wisconsin, Polls stay open until 8 P.M. To read the entire article click here.