The Republicans February 2021-

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The Republicans
The Lincoln Project
What Is QAnon: Explaining the Internet Conspiracy Theory
The 45th President of the U.S.

David Siders:  ‘The dog that caught the car’: Republicans brace for the impact of reversing Roe
Everything was going right for Republicans in the midterm campaign. Then the Supreme Court decision came down.
(Politico) Republicans finally got the Roe v. Wade decision they wanted, and in public, they are delighted.
More quietly, however, according to interviews with more than a dozen Republican strategists and party officials, they just didn’t want it to come right now — not during a midterm election campaign in which nearly everything had been going right for the GOP.
The decision, issued Friday, was a landmark victory for conservatives who have held up overturning Roe as an ambition of near-biblical significance, fundraising, organizing and legislating off opposition to abortion rights for nearly half a century. … In Republican circles, a consensus has been forming for weeks that the court’s overturning of a significant — and highly popular — precedent on a deeply felt issue will be a liability for the party in the midterms and beyond, undercutting Republicans to at least some degree with moderates and suburban women.
24 June
Supreme Court gives states green light to ban abortion, overturning Roe
The bombshell 5-4 decision is set to upend races across the country as governors, attorneys general, and other state and local leaders gain new powers to determine when abortion will be permitted.

17 June
Republicans who break from the base are House’s endangered species: The boundaries of the House GOP tent became clearer this week, when two incumbents known for repudiating Trump after the Jan. 6 Capitol attack faced South Carolina primary voters — and only one, Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), survived. In a neighboring district, Rep. Tom Rice became the first political casualty of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach the former president last year

10 June
Jan. 6 hearings a reminder of how ‘extreme’ majority of Republicans have become, party member says
Jan. 6 hearings a reminder of how ‘extreme’ majority of Republicans have become, party member says
(CBC Radio) Republican Gunner Ramer hopes the U.S. congressional committee hearings into the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol will hold the right people accountable.
“Last night we were reminded about just how terrible that day was for our country,” said Ramer, who is the political director of the Republican Accountability Project, a Republican-backed political action committee aimed at fighting disinformation within the party and upholding democracy.
Ramer spoke with As It Happens guest host Tom Harrington about the first day of the hearings. Here is part of their conversation.
TH: The panel shared previously unseen footage of the riot. We think we’d seen it all, but we obviously had not. How important was it to remind Americans who are watching of the scenes that took place that day?
GR: Incredibly important. You know, there are a lot of people that want to move on from Jan. 6, including Republican leadership. And last night, guess what? It was a reminder that we’re not moving on from Jan. 6 until we figure out exactly what happened. What was Donald Trump doing in 187 minutes that no one knows about? Well, we’re going to find out.

24 May
3 Questions About Tuesday’s Big Elections
Will Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” candidates accept defeat? Can Democrats find reasons for hope? And for other Republicans, what’s the price of Trump’s cold shoulder?

Heather Cox Richardson May 10, 2022
With the overturning of Roe v. Wade seemingly on the horizon, right-wing lawmakers are now escalating their attacks on national policies their base voters oppose.
Journalists for Business Insider ran the numbers and found that 84% of the state lawmakers who have sponsored trigger laws are men, five states had no women sponsors for trigger laws, all but one of the 13 governors who have signed trigger laws are men, and 91% of the senators who confirmed the antiabortion majority on the Supreme Court are men. These men are overwhelmingly Republican: 86% of the trigger law sponsors were Republican, all of the antiabortion justices were nominated by Republicans, and 94% of the senators who voted to confirm the antiabortion justices were Republicans.
At the same time that a small minority is imposing its will on the majority of Americans, Republicans are insisting they, not those who are losing their rights, are the victims.

Emboldened by wins, GOP goes all in on the culture wars
(WaPo) On the campaign trail, they’re railing against critical race theory and gender identity discussions in schools. In state legislatures and via executive fiat, they are trying to limit medical procedures for transgender children and punishing large companies they view as overly politically correct. They’ve found success by weaponizing the left’s “defund the police” movement, which advocates for reallocating resources to limit police power.
And they’re already accusing President Biden of catering to college-educated elites as he considers forgiving student loan debt.

8 May
Steve Schmidt: No Books. No Money. Just the Truth.
Let us start at the beginning: Senator John McCain turned a blind eye to the dealings of his top adviser, Rick Davis, who was making millions of dollars with his partner, Paul Manafort. Manafort was advancing the interests of the Russian Federation in Ukraine and across Eastern Europe. They worked for the Putin puppet Victor Yanukovych and Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. They advanced Russian interests from the Maidan to Montenegro. John McCain spent his 70th birthday with Oleg Deripaska and Rick Davis on a Russian yacht at anchor in Montenegro. …
In the end, John McCain’s top political aide made a choice. He made the same choice as Paul Manafort. He wanted to make millions of dollars advancing the strategic interests of Vladimir Putin, Oleg Deripaska and their puppet Victor Yanukovych, while at the same time acting as the top advisor to a US major party nominee, and ultimately a President of the United States. Nothing like this should ever happen again in the United States.
The story of American corruption in Ukraine is a disgrace, and in part has led to the human disaster in Ukraine. The corruption did not start in the Trump era, but years before. It started in the K Street sewer firms where Roger Stone, Rick Gates, Paul Manafort and Rick Davis thrived.
Why did Senator John McCain choose to ignore this? Because Rick Davis organized the constant chaos of John McCain’s life into something that could resemble a soft coherence to people looking in the window to a constantly destabilized environment.
That was not in the national security interests of the Government of the United States, nor the American people.

21-23 April
Jamelle Bouie: On Jan. 7, Could Republicans Have Made a Break From Trump?
Perhaps Republicans would not have budged in the face of an immediate drive to impeach Trump in the wake of Jan. 6. But we don’t know that for certain. What we do know is they were knocked off balance. We know — and we could see with our own eyes — that they were scared and disoriented, shook by the experience of facing a mob that might have killed them if it had the chance.
Republicans were off-balance on the morning of Jan. 7, and a strong push might have knocked them to the ground. I don’t fault Democrats for the state of the Republican Party, but I do fault them for not taking that chance.
Heather Cox Richardson April 21, 2022
Today, McCarthy responded to Burns and Martin’s story with a statement saying that the reporting was “totally false and wrong” before going on a partisan rant that the “corporate media is obsessed with doing everything it can to further a liberal agenda” and insisting that the country was better off with former president Trump in office. McCarthy’s spokesperson, Mark Bednar, denied the specifics of the story: “McCarthy never said he’d call Trump to say he should resign,” Bednar said.
Oops. There was a tape.
On January 10, 2021, McCarthy and Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) on a call with the House Republican leadership spoke about invoking the 25th Amendment, and McCarthy said he expected impeachment to pass the House and likely the Senate, and that he planned to tell Trump he should resign.
After Rachel Maddow played the tape on her show tonight, conservative lawyer and Washington Post columnist George Conway tweeted: “Here’s an idea for you, Kevin. Tell the truth. Save whatever you might be able to salvage of your dignity and reputation. Come clean.”
‘I’ve Had It With This Guy’: G.O.P. Leaders Privately Blasted Trump After Jan. 6
By Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin
(NYT) In the days after the attack, Representative Kevin McCarthy planned to tell Mr. Trump to resign. Senator Mitch McConnell told allies impeachment was warranted. But their fury faded fast.

20 April
With or Without Trump, the MAGA Movement Is the Future of the Republican Party
By Thomas B. Edsall
(NYT Opinion) The fissures in the Democratic Party are on display for all to see, since it is the party in power, but the divisions in the Republican Party and the conservative movement are deeper, wider and far more threatening.
Matthew Continetti, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, describes the developments that have brought the conservative movement to a boil in his new book, “The Right: The Hundred-Year War for American Conservatism.”
In Continetti’s telling, there was deepening frustration and anger on the right after Republicans took control of the House in 2011 but still could not block the seemingly inexorable move to the left.

4 March
Pence hits Trump: No room in GOP for ‘apologists for Putin’
(AP) — Former Vice President Mike Pence urged Republicans to move on from the 2020 election and declared that “there is no room in this party for apologists for Putin” as he further cemented his break from former President Donald Trump.
Pence, in a speech Friday evening to the party’s top donors in New Orleans, took on those in his party who have failed to forcefully condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin for his unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
“Where would Russian tanks be today if NATO had not expanded the borders of freedom? There is no room in this party for apologists for Putin,” Pence said, according to excerpts from the speech, which was closed to reporters. “There is only room for champions of freedom.”

24 February
Inhofe to retire from Senate, teeing up special election in Oklahoma: Sen. Jim Inhofe is expected to announce his retirement in the coming days, according to a person familiar with his plans , likely triggering a special election to replace him this fall. The 87-year-old Oklahoma Republican was elected to another six-year term in 2020, but has missed more votes than usual recently and told reporters in December his wife has been sick. His decision to step down will surely fuel a competitive Republican primary to succeed him in ruby-red Oklahoma.

21 February
Trump’s Risky 2022 Endorsement Strategy
(New York) Former president Donald Trump really likes to endorse candidates for office, in keeping with his general determination to share his views on every imaginable subject. According to Ballotpedia, since Trump was elected president in 2016, he has endorsed a total of 408 candidates. This includes candidates at every level of government from potential U.S. senators to state legislators and even one county commissioner. He’s off to a roaring start in 2022 with 98 endorsements so far, all of them conferring his blessing on candidates facing primaries and general elections later this year.
Trump’s aggressive endorsement program, which often targets GOP incumbents with whom he has issues (typically stemming from a refusal to cooperate with his attempted 2020 election coup), has not gone over well with Republicans focused on party unity and general-election viability, as Politico reported recently:
To some Republicans, Trump’s efforts to take down GOP incumbents in federal and state races are at odds with the party’s interests in a midterm election where Republicans are within striking distance of recapturing control of Congress. While the party is focused on the November 2022 general election, Trump’s gaze is fixed on the primary election season that begins next spring.

4-5 February
RNC does Trump’s bidding, frustrating its members
(Politico playbook) … Instead of looking to the future and capitalizing on the party’s tailwinds, the top headline from the RNC’s winter meeting this week was that the party wants to bow to Donald Trump and relitigate the past
G.O.P. Declares Jan. 6 Attack ‘Legitimate Political Discourse’
The Republican National Committee voted to censure Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for participating in the inquiry into the deadly riot at the Capitol.
Representative Liz Cheney has said Republican leaders “have made themselves willing hostages” to former President Donald J. Trump.
(NYT) It was the latest and most forceful effort by the Republican Party to minimize what happened and the broader attempt by Mr. Trump and his allies to invalidate the results of the 2020 election. In approving it and opting to punish two of its own, Republicans seemed to embrace a position that many of them have only hinted at: that the assault and the actions that preceded it were acceptable.
It came days after Mr. Trump suggested that, if re-elected in 2024, he would consider pardons for those convicted in the Jan. 6 attack and for the first time described his goal that day as subverting the election results, saying in a statement that Vice President Mike Pence “could have overturned the election.”
After the vote, party leaders rushed to clarify that language, saying it was never meant to apply to rioters who violently stormed the Capitol in Mr. Trump’s name.
‘Trump Is Wrong,’ Pence Says of False Claim About Overturning Election
Former Vice President Mike Pence said in a speech on Friday that he had no right to overturn the 2020 election, as the former president has falsely claimed.
Mr. Pence did not explicitly say that Mr. Trump lost the election and he declined to address the false claims of election fraud still being pushed by the former president and his supporters. The carefully constructed wording of his rebuke shows an effort by Mr. Pence to defend his own actions on Jan. 6, while not completely alienating a Republican base that remains animated by conspiracy theories of a stolen election. Their support could be crucial in any 2024 primary contest.

27 January
Tucker Carlson’s pro-Russia rants give Republicans exactly what they deserve
Tucker Carlson has created a thorny dilemma for Republicans running in 2022 primaries: How can they cast President Biden as “weak” on Russia and Ukraine when the nation’s most-watched right-wing TV commentator is enforcing a new orthodoxy suggesting that the U.S. must not defend Ukraine against Russian aggression in any way, shape or form?

2021

24 November
Is the GOP’s Policy Agenda Hidden or Nonexistent?
By Eric Levitz
(New York) The GOP’s prospects for reclaiming full federal power in 2025 are bright and getting brighter.
Already, the party has all but clinched a House majority in the next Congress. Even as Democrats won a federal trifecta in 2020, they failed to put a dent in the Republicans’ domination of state governments. As a result, the GOP has more power over this year’s once-in-a-decade redistricting — and Republicans have used it to engineer enough new “solid red” districts to win a House majority next November, even if Democrats retain the same level of support they had on the night of Biden’s election.
… The GOP’s structural advantage in the Senate is even larger than its handicap in the House. Congress’s upper chamber wildly underrepresents urban America. In an age of urban-rural polarization — and very little ticket-splitting — the Senate’s biases are devastating for the Democratic Party. According to the political data scientist David Shor, if Democrats win 51 percent of the major-party vote in 2024, they will likely lose seven Senate seats — and the presidency, thanks to the Electoral College’s four-point Republican bias.
… Donald Trump’s success in campaigning as a defender of Medicare and Social Security, and as a proponent of little beyond tax cuts and cruelty, tempered the GOP’s enthusiasm for austerity. The failure of Obamacare repeal, and subsequent midterm loss, further chastened Republican advocates of “small government.” At the same time, Trump’s tax cuts largely fulfilled the GOP’s core policy ambition. Republicans could certainly cut federal taxes by even more. But merely extending the Trump Tax Cuts (many of which are currently scheduled to phase out mid-decade) would require a sizable deficit increase or offsetting spending cut. By all appearances, the party did not feel that it had enough fiscal space to enact another major tax cut in 2020: The GOP declined to draft a policy platform of any kind last year.

22 November
Republican authoritarianism is here to stay
By Brian Klaas, Global Opinions contributor
The conclusion is depressing, but we must face reality: The battle for the Republican Party is over. The Trumpian authoritarians have won — and they’re not going to be defeated by pro-democracy Republicans anytime soon.
(WaPo) Is there any way to reverse the Republican Party’s lurch toward violent, authoritarian lunacy?
For the past decade, I’ve studied the rise of authoritarianism and the breakdown of democracy around the world. Traveling from Madagascar to Thailand and Belarus to Zambia, I’ve tried to understand how despotic politicians and authoritarian political parties systematically destroy democracy. And based on that research, I have some bad news: The party of Reagan and Romney is long dead. The party of Trump is here to stay.
What has happened in the United States over the past five years is, in many ways, a classic of the autocratic genre. A populist leader rose to power, attacked the press, politicized rule of law, threatened to jail his opponents, demonized minorities, praised dictators abroad, spread conspiracy theories and lies, and then sought to seize power despite losing an election. When such despotic figures emerge in democracies, their political party has two options: push back against the would-be despot while reasserting democratic principles, or remake the party in his image. Republicans have quite clearly chosen the latter path.

21 November
The Complicated Truth About Trump 2024
The former president may already be running for president again—or it may be a lot of bluster.
By Peter Nicholas
(The Atlantic) If Donald Trump tries to run for president again, one of his former campaign advisers has a plan to dissuade him. Anticipating that Trump may not know who Adlai Stevenson was or that he lost two straight presidential elections in the 1950s, this ex-adviser figures he or someone else might need to explain the man’s unhappy fate. They’ll remind Trump that if he were beaten in 2024, he would join Stevenson as one of history’s serial losers. “I think that would resonate,” said this person, who, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity to talk more freely. “Trump hates losers.”
Trump might not listen to his former campaign confidant. But the mere fact that someone who worked to elect Trump the first time is rehearsing arguments to stop a comeback suggests that the former president’s tight grip on the Republican Party may be slipping. A few other developments in recent weeks point to the early stirrings of a Republican Party in which Trump is sidelined.
Trump’s most potent means of retaining his hold on his party is perpetuating the idea that he’ll be back on the ballot in three years. Whether he goes through with launching a reelection campaign may be beside the point. Stepping aside would be tantamount to inviting a slew of Republican candidates to jump in the 2024 presidential-nomination race and fill the space he’s vacating. Trump is not about to let his relevancy plummet.

17 November
Freedom Caucus Troublemakers Are Poised for a Comeback
By Ed Kilgore
In its relatively short life, the Freedom Caucus devolved into a faction of ultra-loyalists to Donald Trump and his eccentric causes. Once obeisance to Trump and obstruction of a Democratic Congress came to dominate the entire Republican conference, the Freedom Caucus lost its mojo. But now, it’s poised for a comeback: If Republicans retake the House in 2022, as expected, the group could return to its roots as a thorn in the side of the House Republican leadership.

9 November
Tensions rise among Republicans over infrastructure bill and whether any agreement with Biden should be tolerated
(WaPo) Republicans are increasingly divided over the bipartisan infrastructure bill that will soon become law, with tensions rising among GOP members over whether the party should remain united against all aspects of President Biden’s agenda or strike deals in the rare instances when there is common ground.

11 October
The Trump nightmare looms again
by Michael Gerson
It is increasingly evident that the nightmare prospect of American politics — unified Republican control of the federal government in the hands of a reelected, empowered Donald Trump in 2025 — is also the likely outcome. …this same lawless, reckless man has a perfectly realistic path back to power. The GOP is a garbage scow of the corrupt, the seditious and their enablers, yet the short- and medium-term political currents are in its favor.
This is not simply a problem of the Biden administration’s messaging. It reflects deeper political challenges, recently and vividly described by Ezra Klein and David Shor. In my woefully condensed version of Klein’s column based on his interviews with the data analyst: American voters are increasingly polarized by education (which is really a proxy for complex issues of class and race). Whites with a college education have lurched Democratic. Whites without a college education have lurched Republican.
This presents Democrats with disadvantages. Significantly more voters lack a college education than have one. And voters with a college education tend to be located in urban areas, which centralizes and thus diminishes their influence. Both the electoral college and the constitutional method of Senate representation reward those who control wide open spaces.
What does this mean in practice? It means Democrats need to significantly outperform Republicans in national matchups to obtain even mediocre results in presidential and Senate races. It means that Democrats, to remain competitive, need to win in places they don’t currently win, draw from groups they don’t currently draw and speak in cultural dialects they don’t currently speak.

Heather Cox Richardson October 11, 2021
Both the New York Times and the Washington Post today ran op-eds from Republicans or former Republicans urging members of their party who still value democracy to vote Democratic until the authoritarian faction that has taken over their party is bled out of it.
In the New York Times, Miles Taylor and Christine Todd Whitman wrote, “We are Republicans. There’s only one way to save our party from pro-Trump extremists.” Taylor served in the Department of Homeland Security and was the author of the 2018 New York Times piece by “Anonymous” criticizing former president Trump. Whitman was governor of New Jersey from 1994 to 2001, after which she headed the Environmental Protection Agency under President George W. Bush.
Taylor and Whitman note that “rational Republicans” had hoped after Trump’s defeat that they might take back the party, but it is clear now, they write, that they are losing the party’s “civil war.” But while they originally hoped to form a new party, they now agree that the only way to stop Trumpism “is for us to form an alliance with Democrats to defend American institutions, defeat far-right candidates, and elect honorable representatives next year—including a strong contingent of moderate Democrats.” To defend democracy, they write, “concerned conservatives must join forces with Democrats on the most essential near-term imperative: blocking Republican leaders from regaining control of the U.S. House of Representatives” and the Senate.
October 10, 2021
The fight over raising the debt ceiling reveals that the Trump wing has taken control of the Republican Party.
… On September 22, Trump explained that to stop the Democrats, the Republicans might have to burn down the country: “The way I look at it,” he wrote, “what the Democrats are proposing, on so many different levels, will destroy our country. Therefore, Republicans have no choice but to do what they have to do, and the Democrats will have no choice but to concede all of the horror they are trying to inflict upon the future of the United States.”
Those who agree with Trump are now in charge of the Republican Party.

2 September
Abortion opponents watch for violations of Texas ban as providers weigh legal options
Abortion providers and opponents said it was too early to predict a test case, in which a person sued under the law could contest its legality, because abortion providers appeared to be complying with the law and were not performing the newly banned procedures.
But antiabortion groups were monitoring anonymous tips about potential violations, which could include not only health-care workers who assist in abortions but also people who help fund, transport or counsel patients. Providers were huddling with lawyers to prepare to challenge the lawsuits they think will eventually come.
Heather Cox Richardson September 1, 2021
In May, [Texas] Governor Abbott signed the strongest anti-abortion law in the country, Senate Bill 8, which went into effect on September 1. It bans abortion after 6 weeks—when many women don’t even know they’re pregnant—thus automatically stopping about 85% of abortions in Texas. There are no exceptions for rape or incest. Opponents of the bill had asked the Supreme Court to stop the law from taking effect. It declined to do so.
The law avoided the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision protecting the right to abortion before fetal viability at about 22 to 24 weeks by leaving the enforcement of the law not up to the state, but rather up to private citizens. This was deliberate. As Dahlia Lithwick and Mark Joseph Stern explained in an article in Slate: “Typically, when a state restricts abortion, providers file a lawsuit in federal court against the state officials responsible for enforcing the new law. Here, however, there are no such officials: The law is enforced by individual anti-abortion activists.” With this law, there’s no one to stop from enforcing it.
S.B. 8 puts ordinary people in charge of law enforcement. Anyone—at all—can sue any individual who “aids or abets,” or even intends to abet, an abortion in Texas after six weeks.
Opponents have compared those who backed the Texas anti-abortion law to the Taliban, the Islamic extremists in Afghanistan whose harsh interpretation of Islamic Sharia law strips women of virtually all rights. But the impulse behind the Texas law, the drive to replace the federal protection of civil rights with state vigilantes enforcing their will, is homegrown.
30 August
The Supreme Court Has Just Two Days to Decide the Fate of Roe v. Wade

27 August
Florida starts turning on DeSantis
(Politico) Covid infection rates continue to climb as the state faces shortages of health care staff, morgue space and even oxygen for patients. About 16,000 people are hospitalized. Child infection rates have shot up. School districts — even in Republican strongholds — have rebelled against DeSantis’ anti-mask mandates. And cruise lines are resisting DeSantis’ vaccine passport ban. Even his recent poll numbers are slipping.
The multi-front Covid-19 battle is becoming inextricably linked to DeSantis’ 2022 re-election bid, and more broadly his future White House aspirations. The governor remains popular with conservatives across the country and in Florida, but his steadfast refusal to implement Covid-related restrictions amid hundreds of virus-related deaths in the state and rising infection numbers has the potential to threaten his electability.

Heather Cox Richardson August 19, 2021
On Tuesday, Representative Terri Sewell (D-AL) introduced H.R. 4, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021. … What is at stake is that the Republican Party has become so extreme it can win elections only by rigging the system. When the 2020 election showed that Democrats could overcome even that year’s voter suppression, gerrymandering, and the outsized weight of rural states in the Electoral College, 18 Republican-dominated states passed 30 new, extreme voter suppression laws and, in Georgia, cleared the way for partisan appointees to replace nonpartisan election officials.
If Republican operatives can cement their control over those states despite the will of the voters, they can control the government—likely including the presidency—from their minority position.
The outrageousness of this reality has been hitting home in the last month as states dominated by Republican governors in the mold of former president Donald Trump are opposing vaccine requirements and mask mandates even as the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus burns across the country.

14 August
Tap Dancing With Trump: Lindsey Graham’s Quest for Relevance
The senator went from Donald J. Trump’s public enemy to his impassioned defender. Now he’s a golfing regular at Mar-a-Lago, advising the former president on his future. What is behind one of the unlikeliest partnerships in politics?
(NYT) …Mr. Graham casts himself as a singular force for moderation and sanity. He alone can fix the former president, he believes, and make him a unifying figure for Republicans to take back both houses of Congress next year and beyond. To that end, he says, he is determined to steer Mr. Trump away from a dangerous obsession with 2020.
“He has an abiding need to be in the room, no matter what the cost,” said Hollis Felkel, a veteran South Carolina Republican political consultant.

12 August
Texas Republicans Outlast 15-Hour Filibuster to Advance Voting-Restriction Bill
(New York) Alvarado invoked her Houston constituents — the voters who took advantage of the voting options SB 1 would ban — and asked why they should not be allowed as many opportunities to vote as the county was willing to offer.
This rhetoric touting decentralized decision-making on election administration had to be a tad discomfiting to Republicans used to making the same arguments against election reforms enacted at the federal levels. But the political benefits of discouraging high levels of voting by Democratic-leaning young, Latino, and Black voters are just too rich for the GOP to resist. They will not, however, change the rules without a great deal of public exposure.

2 August
Sarah Palin, once on the cutting edge of crazy, now trails the pack
By Dana Milbank
(WaPo) The former Alaska governor, 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee, reality TV personality and human gaffe machine is teasing the possibility of challenging Sen. Lisa Murkowski in Alaska’s Republican Senate primary next year. “If God wants me to do it I will,” she told New Apostolic Reformation movement leader Ché Ahn, as first reported by Right Wing Watch.
She floated a Senate challenge to Murkowski last fall, and nobody much noticed. Will they care now? Doubtful. Palin herself has acknowledged that people think of her as a “has been.” And there’s a specific reason for that. When she burst onto the national stage 13 summers ago, she was on the cutting edge of crazy. But the problem with launching a crazy contest is that, once started, it never ends: There’s always somebody willing to take things up a notch.
Trump supplanted Palin, and now there are 147 insurrectionist Republicans in Congress and countless would-be authoritarians in state governments. QAnon’s Marjorie Taylor Greene holds pole position today, and Palin is back in the pack. What was crazy in ’08 is now the Republican norm.

31 July
DeSantis’s reelection campaign will be brutal — and he could lose
By Myra Adams
(The Hill) Although it is unlikely that DeSantis will lose reelection, it is well within the realm of plausibility. Moreover, it is not hyperbole to state that there has never been a modern gubernatorial reelection with such far-reaching national consequences.
… Presidentially, and especially for the GOP, Florida is the must-win mother of all swing states, boasting 30 electoral votes after the 2020 census. As with all states, the governor’s party can help impact whether those votes land in the red or blue column. In 2020 Trump credited DeSantis with helping him win Florida, and losing the governor’s office could be devastating for 2024.
With so much at stake, Democrats are aching to defeat DeSantis. But who can do the deed? Currently, Rep. Charlie Crist, the former one-term Florida Republican governor, serving between 2007 and 2011, is emerging as the strongest in a field of weak Democratic primary candidates.

Heather Cox Richardson: July 26, 2021
…former president Trump and his supporters are consolidating their power over the Republican Party. Through it, they hope to control the nation.
Trump this morning tried to assert his dominance over the party by issuing a statement in which he demanded that Republican senators scrap the infrastructure bill that has been more than three months in the making.

22 July
Voting Laws Roundup: July 2021
Eighteen states have already enacted 30 laws this year that will make it harder for Americans to vote.
(Brennan Center) As many state legislatures conclude their regular sessions, the full impact of efforts to suppress the vote in 2021 is coming into view.
Between January 1 and July 14, 2021, at least 18 states enacted 30 laws that restrict access to the vote.
[1 These laws make mail voting and early voting more difficult, impose harsher voter ID requirements, and make faulty voter purges more likely, among other things. More than 400 bills with provisions that restrict voting access have been introduced in 49 states in the 2021 legislative sessions.]

Suddenly, (Some) Republicans Are All In on the Vaccine
The new G.O.P. politics of the pandemic follow the grim new math of the coronavirus for Red America.
(The New Yorker) On Thursday, Elise Stefanik and other Republicans held a press conference outside the Capitol for the ostensible purpose of prodding their voters to get the vaccine.
Louisiana congressman Steve Scalise, the House’s No. 2 Republican, posed for a photo of himself getting a vaccine shot, many months after he was eligible, and urged others to do the same. “Get the vaccine,” Scalise said, at a press conference on Thursday. “I have high confidence in it. I got it myself.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a polio survivor who was never on board with his party’s vaccine denialists and anti-maskers, warned, during his own press conference: either get vaccinated or get ready for more lockdowns.

15 July
Vaccine hesitancy morphs into hostility, as opposition to shots hardens
(WaPo) What began as “vaccine hesitancy” has morphed into outright vaccine hostility, as conservatives increasingly attack the White House’s coronavirus message, mischaracterize its vaccination campaign and, more and more, vow to skip the shots altogether.
The notion that the vaccine drive is pointless or harmful — or perhaps even a government plot — is increasingly an article of faith among supporters of former president Donald Trump, on a par with assertions that the last election was stolen and the assault on the U.S. Capitol was overblown.
The message is resonating and the resistance solidifying. Twenty-nine percent of Americans in a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll said they were unlikely to get vaccinated (including 20 percent who said they definitely would not). That compared with 24 percent who said they were unlikely to get a shot three months earlier.
On Sunday, onstage at CPAC as the final speaker, Trump bragged of pushing federal health agencies to make the vaccines a reality. “Thanks to the relentless efforts of my administration — and me,” he added after a slight pause — “we got miraculous therapeutics straight to patients with historic speed, and we produced three vaccines to end the pandemic in record time.”
The staunchly pro-Trump audience cheered. But in interviews, some attendees — huge Trump fans all — still said nothing could convince them to get their shots.

Heather Cox Richardson July 2, 2021
Today news broke that Anthony Aguero, who was in the Capitol on January 6 and who is close to Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), joined Republican members of the right-wing Republican Study Committee when they traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border Tuesday night. The association of sitting Congress members with someone who was apparently part of an insurrection is particularly audacious at a moment when the House of Representatives is in the process of forming a select committee to investigate that series of events.
… as I watch Senate Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) try to figure out how to respond to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s invitation to suggest five members for the new select committee to investigate the January 6 insurrection. Senate Republicans killed the bipartisan select committee on which Republicans would have had significant power to limit the investigation both in scope, by refusing to agree to certain subpoenas, and in time, because Congress had required that committee to report before the end of the year. Now, Republicans are facing a committee dominated by Democrats who have subpoena power and no time limit, all while Republican extremism is on increasingly public display.
Forcing the creation of this select committee, rather than taking the offer of an independent, bipartisan committee, was a curious decision.

26 May
John Warner Was the Glamorous Republican Heretic of the Senate
By Ed Kilgore
His long congressional career, which ended in retirement in 2009, was marked by his lofty position in the bipartisan-defense establishment, tons of military pork to keep restive Virginians satisfied, and, despite a generally orthodox Republican voting record, occasional high-profile acts of heresy. It was no great surprise when Warner announced support for Democrat Mark Warner (no relation) as his successor, and he was among the early Republican supporters of Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump in 2016. Years earlier, he staved off the takeover of his party by right-wing zealots such as Oliver North that would presage the danger to come.
Warner was an exemplar of the days before ideological rigidity gripped the GOP. Despite supporting some abortion restrictions, he was fundamentally pro-choice, which is a nearly extinct point of view among Republicans today. He joined his friend Ted Kennedy in opposing Robert Bork’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, a cause that is still dear to an older generation of conservatives. He supported the Brady Bill and other gun-safety measures. Even on defense issues, he was not entirely predictable; as Armed Services chairman, he opposed the Bush administration’s last “surge” in Iraq and joined John McCain in opposing torture by the military and intelligence agencies.

24 May
53% of Republicans view Trump as true U.S. president -Reuters/Ipsos
The May 17-19 national poll found that 53% of Republicans believe Trump, their party’s nominee, is the “true president” now, compared to 3% of Democrats and 25% of all Americans.

23 May
U.S. Republicans clash over Jan 6 panel as Senate debate looms
(Reuters) Republicans in the U.S. Congress clashed on Sunday over the need for an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, with one lawmaker warning that failure to create the panel could plague the party’s election prospects in 2022 and beyond.

17-19 May
Heather Cox Richardson: May 19, 2021
…the congressional fight over the creation of a bipartisan independent commission to investigate the events surrounding the January 6 insurrection.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) made demands of the Democrats that he evidently expected Democrats to refuse, enabling him to object to the commission by claiming it was partisan. But the Democrats agreed to his conditions, forcing him to object in such a way that it was clear he is simply covering for the former president and, likely, for himself, because he does not want to have to testify to what he observed or participated in in the days around that event (including, for example, the hostile phone call with Trump when McCarthy was inside the besieged Capitol).
McCarthy and the Republican whip, Steven Scalise (R-LA), whose job is to get Republican members to vote along the lines leadership requires, set out to get Republican representatives to oppose the creation of the commission. But when the House voted on the bill this afternoon, 35 Republicans broke ranks to join the Democrats and vote to create the commission. The defections were a sign that McCarthy and the Trump caucus do not entirely own the House Republicans yet.
Why the Republican Party can’t reckon with Trump
Part cynical self-interest, part fear, and part fatalism.
By Andrew Prokop
(Vox) Most Republican critics of Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election result have gone quiet.
[Liz Cheney is the exception.] The rest of the party has united around a strategy of moving on, as seen in Mitch McConnell’s newly announced opposition to a bipartisan commission investigating the storming of the Capitol in January.
For the segment of the party composed of die-hard Trump supporters, that approach makes sense. But even Republicans with deep misgivings about Trump’s post-election behavior have managed to rationalize avoiding the topic.
There are likely three reasons for this. First, there’s the cynical calculation that the GOP can best win future elections by seeming united, rather than spotlighting party divisions. Second, there’s the fear of openly defying Trump and earning the enmity of his supporters, since those deemed insufficiently loyal to the former president tend to see their jobs put at risk. And third, there’s the fatalistic view that this criticism simply won’t achieve anything, because the GOP base will trust the propaganda pipeline of conservative media and social media over their own leaders.
Spencer Bokat-Lindell: Why Can’t the Republican Party Quit Donald Trump?
(NYT Opinion) Normally when a political party loses a presidential election, it engages in a period of reflection to understand what went wrong. In 2012, for example, Barack Obama’s re-election prompted a 100-page autopsy to explain Mitt Romney’s defeat.
But that hasn’t happened this time around. “The former president has not only managed to squelch any dissent within his party,” The Times’s Lisa Lerer wrote, “but has persuaded most of the G.O.P. to make a gigantic bet: that the surest way to regain power is to embrace his pugilistic style, racial divisiveness and beyond-the-pale conspiracy theories rather than to court the suburban swing voters who cost the party the White House and who might be looking for substantive policies on the pandemic, the economy and other issues.”
Elizabeth Drew: The Big Lie and Its Consequences
By demonstrating craven loyalty to Donald Trump despite his lies about the 2020 election, the Republican Party is no longer simply playing for the base. By questioning the very integrity of America’s electoral system, it now represents an open threat to the US constitutional order.
(Project Syndicate) …should an incumbent Republican fail to exhibit sufficient obedience, Trump could “primary” that heretic by backing another Republican for his or her position. Thus, a large number of elected Republicans who know that his election claims are baseless (as are his denials that he fomented the January 6 assault on the US Capitol) espouse them nonetheless because in addition to being wary of Trump they also fear their constituents who follow him. On top of all this, Trump is far and away the party’s most adept fund-raiser.

The Larger Lesson of Liz Cheney’s Ouster
It is to her credit that she stood up to Trump, but, with the Middle East erupting again, let’s be careful that we don’t also embrace her bellicose foreign-policy views.
By Nicholas Lemann

13 May
150 Prominent Republicans and Independents Release ‘A Call for American Renewal’ Charting New Path
Signatories include former governors, members of Congress, administration officials, strategists and thinkers working to reform the GOP, or create an alternative
A coalition of 150 prominent Republican and independent leaders have released A Call for American Renewal, a principles-based vision for American leadership, as an alternative to the current direction of the Republican Party and growing extremism in the nation. Their call for a return to principles (available at: www.acallforamericanrenewal.com) follows a February summit and subsequent organizing.
As GOP leadership marginalizes Representative Liz Cheney and other honorable members and citizens for simple acts of truth-telling and conscience, founding signatories to this statement are mobilizing disaffected voters to impact competitive elections around the country and shape the future of the nation. This “common-sense coalition” seeks to catalyze the reform of the Republican Party and its recommitment to truth, founding ideals, and decency or, if unsuccessful, lay the foundation for an alternative.

11-12 May
Liz Cheney removal vote gives her time to take on Trump
No longer being chair of the House Republican Conference gives Cheney back a valuable asset: her time.
Heather Cox Richardson May 11, 2021
Tonight, in a speech that claimed every piece of the Republican landscape since 1980, Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney launched a broadside against the Republican leaders who have shackled the party to the former president.
Tomorrow, Trump’s own former deputy attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen, will tell the House Oversight Committee that after the election, the Justice Department “had been presented with no evidence of widespread voter fraud at a scale sufficient to change the outcome of the 2020 election.”
Thomas L. Friedman: The Trump G.O.P.’s Plot Against Liz Cheney — and Our Democracy
…if Trump and friends are not stopped, one day they will get where they are going: They will lock in minority rule in America. And when that happens, both Democrats and principled Republicans will take to the streets, and you can call it whatever you like, but it is going to feel like a new civil war.
…inside the Lebanese civil war in the late 1970s and early 1980s[,] I saw close up what happens when democratically elected politicians think that they can endlessly abuse their institutions, cross redlines, weaken their judiciary and buy reporters and television stations — so that there is no truth, only versions, of every story. And they think that they can do it endlessly — cheat just one more time, break one more rule, buy one more vote — and the system will hold until they can take it over and own it for their own purposes.

10 May
Rick Wilson of the Lincoln Project on the future of the GOP (audio)

8 May
Liz Cheney’s months-long effort to turn Republicans from Trump threatens her reelection and ambitions. She says it’s only beginning.
Even if she is cast out of power in the House, she has made clear that she will not stop, promising to take her argument against Trump to the campaign trail in Wyoming, where he garnered 70 percent of the vote in 2020. She has told others that blocking Trump from leading the party is a fight she sees as just beginning, no matter how Wednesday’s vote goes.

Heather Cox Richardson May 7, 2021
The Republican Party has demonstrated that it intends to control the government in the future, no matter what most Americans want. Iowa, Georgia, Montana, and Florida have already passed voter suppression laws, while other states are considering them.  …
Americans appear to like the new direction of the country. Seventy-seven percent liked the American Rescue Plan and 56% like Biden’s proposed American Jobs Plan for infrastructure, while 65% want to tax people making more than $400,000 a year to pay for it. At the same time, a new Pew poll suggests that the divisiveness of the Trump years is easing and that young people in particular are not interested in the culture wars.
Faced with the prospect of voters rejecting their economic policies, Republican leaders are undermining democracy.

Jonathan Chait: When Trump’s Next Coup Happens, the Republican Party Will Fully Support It
The document that most clearly expresses the mainstream Republican view is a column by National Review’s Dan McLaughlin. To begin with, McLaughlin lays out the party Establishment’s view of the stakes: While the dispute is “dressed up as disagreements over issues and approaches,” it “is actually almost entirely about the personality and character of Donald J. Trump.” Trump is a boor and a sleaze, but there’s no larger principle at stake.
Next, McLaughlin insists that Trump’s embarrassing behavior is all behind them. “Cheney has made herself a symbol of inter-Republican resistance to Trump’s post-election temper tantrum, to his fables about a stolen election, and to his role in provoking the Capitol riot — all of which is fair to call out, but all of which is now in the past.” [Emphasis added.]
Of course, this very assumption is what Cheney contests. Her op-ed explicitly argues that Trump is laying the groundwork to undermine democracy going forward.
Republicans prepare to oust Cheney from leadership and install Stefanik as party purges Trump critics
House Republicans are poised to oust Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) from leadership because of her confrontations with Donald Trump over the election, marking a symbolic cutting of the party’s remaining ties to the brand of Republicanism that ruled the GOP before the former president’s ascendancy.
Liz Cheney: The GOP is at a turning point. History is watching us.
(WaPo Opinion) The Republican Party is at a turning point, and Republicans must decide whether we are going to choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution. In the immediate wake of the violence of Jan. 6, almost all of us knew the gravity and the cause of what had just happened — we had witnessed it firsthand.
House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) left no doubt in his public remarks. On the floor of the House on Jan. 13, McCarthy said: “The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.” Now, McCarthy has changed his story.
While embracing or ignoring Trump’s statements might seem attractive to some for fundraising and political purposes, that approach will do profound long-term damage to our party and our country. Trump has never expressed remorse or regret for the attack of Jan. 6 and now suggests that our elections, and our legal and constitutional system, cannot be trusted to do the will of the people. This is immensely harmful, especially as we now compete on the world stage against Communist China and its claims that democracy is a failed system.
Charles M. Blow: Liz Cheney, We Have a Memory. You’re No Hero.
Yes, it is better that Liz Cheney stands up for the truth about Trump and the election than to oppose it, which puts her at odds with a political party in which truth is the enemy.
But her present position does not expunge her past positions. The sword she’s falling on is one she has spent her political career brandishing.

4 May
Paul Ryan can’t save the GOP — he is still a huge part of the problem
The former House Speaker sits on Fox News’ board and has yet to publicly stand up for Liz Cheney or Mitt Romney

30 April
Jennifer Rubin: Biden has more respect for Liz Cheney than Republicans do
It is far from clear whether Cheney or [Rep. Adam] Kinzinger will survive primary challenges in 2022. If MAGA voters dominate the primary, they could lose their seats for the grave offense of defending truth and democracy.
The Republican Accountability Project is trying to prevent that. RAP compiled a scorecard that captures the gulf between Republicans such as Cheney and Kinzinger, on one hand, and the rest of the GOP cult followers on the other. … Cheney, Kinzinger and 14 others (out of more than 260 Republicans in the House and Senate) earn an A or A- rating and therefore can depend on RAP’s support as a “Defender of Democracy.” (Some lawmakers who fall into this category are retiring, so the list of decent Republicans worthy of support in 2022 will be small indeed.)

26 April
The GOP Is a Grave Threat to American Democracy
Unless and until Republicans summon the wit and the will to salvage the party, ruin will follow.

23 April
The fading GOP establishment moves to support Cheney as Trump attacks and McCarthy keeps his distance
Inside her nearly $1.6 million haul in three months, Cheney secured financial backing from dozens of alumni of both Bush administrations, including a couple of Cabinet members and, not surprisingly, her parents, Richard and Lynne Cheney. More than 10 current and former members of the House cut checks to her campaign, including former speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and a handful of other Republicans who voted to impeach the former president during the Jan. 13 vote.

3 April
Expand access? A historic restriction? What the Georgia voting law really does.
Peter W. Stevenson
(WaPo) A close examination of the language in the law shows it does contain new restrictions on voting; some are likely to make it disproportionately more difficult for poorer voters and voters of color to cast their ballots.
It’s also correct that there are ways in which the law expands voter access, particularly in ways that will be visible in rural areas.
This is playing out in the wake of Georgia’s swing to Democrats in the 2020 presidential election and the ensuing baseless charges of fraud from the Trump campaign and its allies. Republican lawmakers in the state — as many of their counterparts across the country have — quickly began drafting a bill critics say is a political reaction from a party beholden to Trump
What Georgia’s Voting Law Really Does
The New York Times analyzed the state’s new 98-page voting law and identified 16 key provisions that will limit ballot access, potentially confuse voters and give more power to Republican lawmakers.
Heather Cox Richardson April 1, 2021
The efforts of Republican state legislators in 43 states to suppress voting have made the rubber of Republicans politics meet the road of reality.
Republicans are pushing the idea that it is imperative to pass laws to protect the sanctity of the vote because their supporters are concerned that the 2020 election was stolen. But, as observers have pointed out, if they want to reassure their voters that the election was clean, the way to do it would be to tell them the truth: the election wasn’t stolen.

19-20 March
The Republican Party’s Irrational War on Voting Rights
State-level efforts to restrict the franchise may hurt democracy—and also, the GOP’s own voters.
(The Atlantic) Around the country, indignation has driven Republicans to propose new restrictions on voting rights. Some of these are likely unconstitutional. Some appear to target particular constituencies. But one of the most striking features of these proposals as a whole is their incoherence.
In their eagerness to demonstrate their loyalty to Trump, Republican legislators are rushing to apply scattershot solutions to an imagined set of problems. And although they seem unmoved by warnings that these laws will disproportionately affect minority voters, they may well discover that they have actually disenfranchised many of their own supporters, even as their push to pass restrictive rules energizes their opponents.
Republicans don’t seem to have carefully thought through all the ways their bills might affect the state’s entire electorate. Whereas past efforts at voter suppression around the country seemed to target Democratic demographics “with almost surgical precision” (as a federal judge wrote of North Carolina’s 2013 voter-ID law), some of the laws currently under consideration in Arizona and nationwide look like blunt instruments that could end up making it harder for Republicans to vote too.

‘An all-hands moment’: GOP rallies behind voting limits
(AP) From statehouses to Washington, the fight over who can vote and how — often cast as “voting integrity” — has galvanized a Republican Party in search of unifying mission in the post-Trump era. For a powerful network of conservatives, voting restrictions are now viewed as a political life-or-death debate, and the fight has all-but eclipsed traditional Republican issues like abortion, gun rights and tax cuts as an organizing tool.
That potency is drawing influential figures and money from across the right, ensuring that the clash over the legislation in Washington will be partisan and expensive.
So far, the states have been the center of the debate. More than 250 bills have have been introduced in 43 states that would change how Americans vote, according to a tally by the Brennan Center for Justice, which backs expanded voting access.
… the fight over voting laws now extends far beyond Trump and is shifting to Washington, where the Democratic-led Senate will soon consider an array of voting changes. The package, known as H.R. 1, would require states to automatically register eligible voters, as well as offer same-day registration. It would limit states’ ability to purge registered voters from their rolls and restore former felons’ voting rights. Among dozens of other provisions, it would also require states to offer 15 days of early voting and allow no-excuse absentee balloting. Democrats, who are marshaling their own resources behind the bill, argue it is necessary to block what they describe as voter suppression efforts in the states.

9 March
Bad news’: Wave of GOP retirements signals battles ahead
By STEVE PEOPLES
(AP) Missouri’s Roy Blunt on Monday became the fifth Republican senator to announce he will not seek reelection, a retirement wave that portends an ugly campaign season next year and gives Democrats fresh hope in preserving their razor-thin Senate majority.
History suggests Republicans are still well-positioned to reclaim at least one chamber of Congress next year. But officials in both parties agree that the surge of GOP departures will make the Republicans’ challenge more difficult in the Senate.
Opinion: The Republican Party isn’t in trouble
By Hugh Hewitt
Redistricting in the next two years will advantage the GOP. The Senate map is tougher for Republicans in 2022. … Most people in both parties assume that President Biden will not be leading the Democratic ticket in 2024, so there will likely be a nasty battle to replace him on the Democratic side.
… Former president Donald Trump complicates the picture. If he ran as a third-party candidate, he’d surely hand the White House back to the Democrats, but that’s an unlikely scenario. He could have an outsize influence on who is the nominee, and his personal favorites are probably Cotton, DeSantis and Pompeo. Whether the rift between Trump and the former vice president mends, Mike Pence will be in the mix as well.
… The corrupt and now exposed Lincoln Project took out one tribe of anti-Trumpists, but many of great character and intellect remain, talking to each other and very few other people. The center-right and old right are simply angling for position while facing a new order, a different coalition of voters and a set of issues defined by the rising menace of the Chinese Communist Party.

5 March
GOP governors scorn pandemic restrictions as they compete for primacy in a pro-Trump party
(WaPo) The decision this week by Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas to end his state’s mask mandate and lift all restrictions on business reflects a broader move by politically ambitious Republican governors to channel the rising anger of conservative constituents over government efforts to curb the coronavirus.

28 February
Allies of Rep. Adam Kinzinger launch super PAC to support Republicans who have bucked Trump
Allies of Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) are launching a super PAC [Americans Keeping Country First] to collect large sums of money to support Republicans willing to buck former president Donald Trump, the latest sign of the party’s deepening internecine war.

26 February
How Trumpism Has Become a Cult of Losing
By Jonathan Chait
Donald Trump …has moved into a role of opposition leader and president in exile, a sort of hybrid between a parliamentary system (where a defeated prime minister might often slide immediately into opposition leadership) and banana republic, where a deposed strongman flees the country with a Swiss bank account and a retinue of goons.
The Republican response has ranged from resigned acceptance to active encouragement. Examples of the former include Mitt Romney, who conceded that Trump will win the 2024 nomination if he seeks it, and Mitch McConnell, who agreed that Trump will have his full support should that happen. Examples of the latter include Representative Jim Jordan, who has deemed Trump the party’s leader and urged him to take an even more active role in its direction, and the CPAC Conference, which includes a Golden Calf–style statue. (The worship is metaphorical, though Politico recently reported on some Christian sects that prophesize Trump’s return quite literally.)
The Republicans’ understanding of the January 6 insurrection follows from their delusional beliefs about the election itself. A USA Today poll found that 58 percent of Republicans believe the attack was “mostly an antifa-inspired attack that only involved a few Trump supporters,” more than double the number who describe it as “a rally of Trump supporters, some of whom attacked the Capitol.”
Why Republicans Are Still Holding Onto the Big Lie
Even with a new president, it’s in Republicans’ interest to undermine the idea that democracy is worth it.
(Slate) Why is the lie so sticky for so many? MSNBC’s Marc Ambinder reminds us of one big reason to persist in the fiction: The lie serves the party’s ultimate goal of suppressing the votes of likely Democrats. It’s clear that while even Trump’s own agencies determined that this election was “the most secure in history,” the record voter turnout in the midst of a pandemic means that the sustainability of the GOP as a political party now lies in constricting the franchise, including placing needless limits on mail-in voting. The laser focus of state-level Republican efforts right now is thus to limit voting rights. Ari Berman reported this week on a new analysis from the Brennan Center for Justice, showing that in the two months that constitute 2021 so far, 253 bills to restrict voting access have been introduced in 43 states, with Georgia serving as ground zero for experiments in restricting voting by mail, Sunday voting, and tweaking the Georgia runoff rules.
Some local GOP leaders fire up base with conspiracies, lies
(AP) A faction of local, county and state Republican officials is pushing lies, misinformation and conspiracy theories that echo those that helped inspire the violent U.S. Capitol siege, online messaging that is spreading quickly through GOP ranks fueled by algorithms that boost extreme content.
The Associated Press reviewed public and private social media accounts of nearly 1,000 federal, state, and local elected and appointed Republican officials nationwide, many of whom have voiced support for the Jan. 6 insurrection or demanded that the 2020 presidential election be overturned, sometimes in deleted posts or now-removed online forums.
The bitter, combative rhetoric is helping the officials grow their constituencies on social media and gain outsized influence in their communities, city councils, county boards and state assemblies. And it exposes the GOP’s internal struggle over whether the party can include traditional conservative politicians, conspiracy theorists and militias as it builds its base for 2022.

25 February
Republican Senators Haven’t Represented a Majority of Voters Since 1996
By Ed Kilgore
(New York) Thanks to the filibuster, of course, on many key measures, the 43.5 percent of voters represented by a Republican minority in the Senate have as much clout as the 44.7 percent represented by a Republican majority when the GOP won a trifecta four years ago. That’s why Democrats are trying to cram as much legislation as they can into a budget-reconciliation bill that cannot be filibustered and why the parliamentarian’s ruling on the scope of that bill is such a big deal for Americans trying to survive on minimum wage.
McConnell Would ‘Absolutely’ Support Trump As 2024 Nominee
By Matt Stieb
(New York) The reason for McConnell’s retreat is obvious. One poll taken in February showed that a majority of Republican voters preferred Trump as their 2024 candidate and that his favorability rating sat at 81 percent just after the Senate impeachment trial — compared to McConnell’s 33 percent. With this preference clear among GOP voters, it would only be surprising if McConnell chose not to back the candidate who has physically mocked him, called on Republicans to replace him, and arguably cost him his Senate majority. Just as McConnell bailed on a reported plan to sabotage Trump after it became clear the billionaire would dominate the 2016 GOP primary, he has no desire to spar in a party civil war that Trump has already won.
The Republican Party Is Now in Its End Stages
The GOP has become, in form if not in content, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union of the late 1970s.
By Tom Nichols, Author of Our Own Worst Enemy
(The Atlantic) I do not mean that modern American Republicans are communists. Rather, I mean that the Republicans have entered their own kind of end-stage Bolshevism, as members of a party that is now exhausted by its failures, cynical about its own ideology, authoritarian by reflex, controlled as a personality cult by a failing old man, and looking for new adventures to rejuvenate its fortunes.

18 February
David A. Graham: Ted Cruz Is No Hypocrite. He’s Worse.
The senator’s error is not that he was deliberately shirking his duty, but that he couldn’t think of any way he could help.
If Cruz’s problem were mere hypocrisy, that might be manageable. Politicians (even Ted Cruz) are deeply susceptible to shaming, and voters’ memories are short. But Cruz’s problem is deeper. He didn’t go to Cancún despite knowing he should be hard at work; it just didn’t occur to him that he could help. That, too, is a kind of power failure.
Democrats slam Sen. Ted Cruz for flying to Cancun while Texans are ‘literally freezing to death’
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas flew to Cancun on Wednesday, a trip that has sparked intense backlash as his constituents continue to struggle with one of the worst winter storms in years.

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