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One can sympathize with Mitt Romney for deciding not to run again in Utah for the U.S. Senate. The traditional Republican has found himself isolated in a party where majorities still revere Donald Trump.
Romney had apparently discussed the idea of forming a new centrist party with West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin. It would "endorse whichever party's nominee isn't stupid," Romney told biographer McKay Coppins.
That sounds sensible, but it actually might hurt the cause of peeling away the curse of Trumpism. Here's the problem:
A designated centrist would drain votes from Democrats as well as Republicans — and in the very swing districts that Democrats need to win if our politics are to return to normal. The far more effective strategy is to simply support Democrats running against the crazies.
The end game must be to make the Republican Party lose power. When that happens, the GOP may fix itself or another conservative party could rise from the ashes.
We know there are attractive Republican moderates who are not stupid — but who recently replaced Democrats in purple districts. They may denounce the lunacy of the authoritarian right, but their positions are of no consequence if their very presence in Congress empowers the worst of the worst.
And the worst of the worst are running the House of Representatives. Ever since the pathetic Kevin McCarthy sold his soul for the speaker's gavel, a handful of mephitic self-promoters have taken control. They now threaten to shut down the government for some stupid reason or another. They get away with their stunts because McCarthy has the slimmest of majorities.
Without the Republican moderates, he'd have no majority at all. The Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries would almost certainly be in charge. (Jeffries is so moderate that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez contemplated having him primaried by a left-winger.) The day may come when the Hatfield-McCoy approach to politics is replaced by a more cooperative rivalry, but it won't under the current Republican leadership.
The most admirable Republicans are those who choose to run bravely facing the tsunami of Trumpian sludge. We speak of Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, who sought reelection knowing she would almost certainly lose the primary to one of Trump's flying monkeys. The same goes for Peter Meijer, the Michigan Republican who voted for Trump's impeachment.
Cheney has said that if Trump again becomes the GOP nominee in 2024, she will campaign for Democrats running against Republicans spraying election lies. Her idea is simple and could be effective.
Helping Cheney's cause are Republican donors now hiding their checkbooks from the current party leadership. Consider the example in Michigan of real estate mogul Ron Weiser, who gave Republicans $4.5 million in the 2022 midterm. He's now had it. He can no longer stomach the "ludicrous" claims that Trump won Michigan in 2020.
"I question whether the state party has the necessary expertise to spend the money well," he told Reuters. Translation: They've joined the grifters.
By the end of March, the Arizona Republican Party had less than $50,000 in cash reserves. Why so little? It had spent over $300,000 on lawsuits intended to throw out Arizonans' votes for Joe Biden. And it blew more than $500,000 last year on an election night celebration for Trump-backed candidates, every one of whom lost in the midterms.
A third-party candidate might attract Republicans loath to cast a ballot for a Democrat. We get that. But rather than risk dividing the electorate in a way that could help the toxic election-deniers, disaffected Republicans would do well to partner with Cheney.
In this country one party or the other wins power. And that's why a third party could boomerang on its sponsors.
Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.
Reprinted with permission from Creators.
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Maybe I’m losing my mojo. For all the chatter about political violence out there, this column hasn’t drawn a death threat in months. Maybe not even this calendar year.
They used to come in fairly regularly. One time, a junior high gym teacher in Pennsylvania said he was coming to get me over a smart-aleck joke about the baleful effects of civics education by football coaches. Another guy used to send handwritten letters threatening to rape and mutilate my wife.
Then there was the Special Forces veteran who imagined I’d written something disrespectful about Irish Catholics. (There are a lot more war heroes among angry emailers than the public at large, I’ve noticed.) Perhaps intemperately, I advised him to get lost.
“Your basically a coward,” he responded.
What is it about right-wing soreheads and apostrophes, I wonder? MANY ALSO PREFER TO EXPRESS THEMSELVES IN ALL CAPS. Another mystery. I see something written that way, I press delete. Doesn’t everybody?
But let’s get serious. Out in the real world, there’s growing evidence that threats of violence are playing an increasing role in political decision-making. No less an eminence than Mike Huckabee — onetime Baptist preacher, former Arkansas governor, current TV quack-remedy peddler — has warned that unless Donald Trump is declared the winner of the 2024 presidential contest, the nation will turn from “ballots to bullets” to settle the issue.
TV preachers just love alliterative wordplay, which rarely fails to arouse the influential Moron-American community.
In Little Rock, the Huckster’s daughter, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, recently failed to overhaul the state’s Freedom of Information Act, which was supposedly necessary to protect her family from threats from “the radical left.” (In Arkansas, the radical left is anybody that believes in speed limits and stop signs.) Cynics thought Sanders was more aggravated by the Blue Hog Report, a blog that used the law to show that she’d commandeered a state police airplane to travel from Fayetteville to Rogers — adjoining cities. Documented flight time: 11 minutes. Queen Sarah, some call her.
Anyway, the GOP-dominated state legislature denied Sanders her FOIA overhaul, passing a significantly scaled-down version instead.
More seriously, though, Sen. Mitt Romney says that his recently announced retirement from politics results, in part, from an increasing barrage of death threats. Romney told biographer McKay Coppins that he’d recently been forced to spend $5,000 a day on private security for his family.
According to Coppins, as quoted in The Atlantic: “One Republican congressman confided to Romney that he wanted to vote for Trump’s second impeachment, but chose not to out of fear for his family’s safety. The congressman reasoned that Trump would be impeached by House Democrats with or without him — why put his wife and children at risk if it wouldn’t change the outcome?”
Put that way, it’s hard not to sympathize. It’s one thing to be an obscure newspaper columnist who goes unrecognized at the dog park, and another to be a Washington politician whose face appears on national TV.
Almost needless to say, these threats emanate almost entirely from the spiritual descendants of Oklahoma City truck bomber Timothy McVeigh: racially obsessed white nationalists. Former Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney has spoken of similar fears, as has former Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer. Both aroused right-wing ire by speaking out against the Trump-inspired MAGA rioting at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
No need to kid ourselves about where it’s coming from. Pretty much all mass shooters turn out to be infected with right-wing dogma. According to Philip Bump in the Washington Post, “Analysis from the Anti-Defamation League published this year found that, in the past five years, there have been more than 170 deaths linked to right-wing extremism. Three have been linked to extremism on the left.”
Last year, Sen. Lindsey Graham predicted that there would be “riots in the streets” if Trump was indicted for willfully and deliberately storing top-secret nuclear weapons documents in a publicly accessible country club bathroom. Trump himself, of course, was only too happy to amplify the remark. He continues to hint that outrage about his upcoming criminal trials will spark violence.
And yet nothing has happened. Why? Well, at the expense of sounding like a pre-Trump conservative, because the authorities have been ready. In the aftermath of the Jan. 6 riot, two things have become clear: First, you’ll lose the battle; second, you’ll end up doing serious time in a federal prison.
All the plotting and posing by Proud Boys chieftain Enrique Tarrio got him 22 years in the slammer.
Look, this is America. Of course, there will be violence. Shocking, sickening violence. But the Trump/McVeigh faction is still going to lose.
Reprinted with permission from Sun Times.