So, Senate Republicans, like Pontius Pilot, are busy washing their guilt-covered hands of the Trump trial. An adventure in failure to live up to the various oaths taken - before God and the rest of us - to rule impartially on the massive evidence of wrong-doing presented.
So, let’s move on.
There’s an important political story developing in this nation that, while right out in the open, is being largely ignored. In state after state, Republican Central Committees seem to be taking a fresh new turn to the right. Make that hard right!
In fact, some are conducting purges and issuing censures of folks we’ve believed to be upstanding members. Here, in the desert, Cindy McCain, former Senator Jeff Flake and even our rightward-tilting governor have been dragged out for verbal abuse and censure.
State committees in Idaho, Oregon, Montana and more are following suit. Seems what had been previously accepted GOP conservatism is gone, replaced by storm trooper marches to the edge of their flat earth beliefs. Anything less than full acceptance of Trump and his oft-proven lie that he won the 2020 presidential election seems to be cause for humiliation, censure and/or expulsion.
Oregon’s state GOP committee even went so far as to publish a “manifesto” trying to tie “Benedict Arnold-like actions” to those wanting to see DJT face impeachment and trial. Nasty bit of messaging on a recognized political party’s letterhead.
When the current cleansing is complete, imagine the types of candidates that’ll be on the 2022 off-year ballots. Marjorie Taylor Greene springs quickly to mind. Imagine her being the “poster child” for several hundred like-minded political wannabees coast-to-coast. Scary stuff. Qanon and all that.
Republican conservatism is nothing new. Many practicing that brand of politics have made important contributions to the nation. But, what can be seen currently in many GOP organizations is anything but “conservatism.” It’s more cult-like. And growing.
I’m not sure what their common litmus test is but it seems to involve Trump. While it’s highly unlikely he’ll ever, again, be a serious candidate for any public office, his influence is sure to linger for a long time.
The January 6th attack on Congress was a foretaste of things to come. While my blood boils at the sight of White House and Capitol Hill fencing, it’s almost certain there will be future confrontations in both locations. Even out of public office, Trump’s influence will keep the pot boiling. He’ll see to it. It already is in some of the words and actions of state GOP organizations.
All this would seem to be a mile-wide opening for Democrats. As state Republican parties move rightward, the Dems might also make a slight shift. Just a bit. Think of all those disaffected Republican and Independent voters looking for a new - and more moderate - home. If Dems can show less AOC influence and more Joe Biden centrist thought, the “family” might grow in number.
But, while Dems could see their rolls increase, they also face a real challenge. And, that is to find new candidates and fill those empty ballot spaces. The aforementioned Ms. Greene successfully slipped through the cracks by winning a primary and filling an uncontested general election spot for the U.S. House.
For many years, about a quarter of the Idaho Legislature has had no primary or general election competition. That can’t continue. The state is a growth state; the legislature is attacking the powers of the governor; statewide politics are becoming more hard rock conservative. Without moderation from an increase in the number of Democrat office holders, one-party domination will continue unabated.
Republicans are under attack. By Republicans. Trumpers are trying to eliminate non-Trumpers to “purify” the Republican Party. And, it appears they’ll attack anybody.
Two weeks ago, the Republican-dominated Arizona Senate came within one vote - just one - of sending the Maricopa County Elections Board to jail for not surrendering 2020 election ballots for an unauthorized recount. The illegality was never considered or discussed. Just “Hand ‘em over or jail.” One vote.
We’re not alone in seeing this kind of lawless behavior by a branch of government. No matter who you are, it seems, you can easily become a target of the far-right. Legal or not. Oklahoma, Arizona, Idaho and others are seeing dangerous efforts of GOP-dominated legislatures literally attacking governors of their own party and other duly-elected officials.
The mean-spirit in our politics is not going away anytime soon. It’ll take some guts to jump in the ring and go toe-to-toe. But, the time seems right for Democrats to make an all-out effort to find, educate and nominate new faces for the fight. If they don’t, and if the rightward shift continues in state Republican politics, these attacks on legitimate government will intensify.
Bet on it. (photo/Anthony Crider)