Leverage

The Republican strategy for 2022 and beyond.

1. I always wanted to see . . . Montana.

We’ve talked about how the Republican autopsy has been happening in plain sight and how it has nothing to do with winning more votes and everything to do with using the leverage that exists in governing systems to create rule by law.

Well, we have another data point in Montana. From the redistricting watchers at Daily Kos:

On Friday, Montana Republicans passed a bill in state House committee that would effectively gerrymander the state Supreme Court, which currently leans toward Democrats, by switching from nonpartisan statewide elections to elections using districts drawn by Republican legislators. The GOP holds both legislative chambers and could put this bill on the ballot for required voter approval as soon as 2022. The bill specifies how the districts would be drawn for the coming decade and gives the legislature the power to redraw them in subsequent decades.

Daily Kos Elections has calculated several recent statewide election results by the GOP's proposed districts, and had this map been in effect in 2020, four of the seven districts would have seen Republican statewide candidates win by 7 to 8 points more than their statewide victory margins in this already GOP-leaning state. Republicans would therefore be favored to take control over the court.

That’s right. Republicans want to bring gerrymandering to state supreme courts.

This is in line with everything else we’ve seen from the party post January 6.

Republicans believe—not unreasonably—that they can hold government power even as a national electoral minority.

Step one is drilling down to levels at which they currently hold any sort of bare majority and then legislating continuation of that majority. We see this in voting rights clawback legislation, redistricting gerrymanders, and maneuvers such as the Montana Supreme Court gambit, where the goal is to create a state judiciary which will be amenable to whatever new laws the legislature cooks up.

Step two requires establishing mechanisms for moving beyond the Electoral College in order to determine the presidential election. Some of that will be attempted with legislation. Much of it will be done by preparing the ground to object to the counting of Electoral College votes, thus throwing the election to Congress.

Step three is making public dissent more dangerous:

G.O.P. lawmakers in 34 states have introduced 81 anti-protest bills during the 2021 legislative session — more than twice as many proposals as in any other year, according to Elly Page, a senior legal adviser at the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, which tracks legislation limiting the right to protest.

The craziest of these bills are the ones in Iowa and Oklahoma which grant immunity for drivers who run over protestors.

I’m not a lawyer. Maybe this is totally kosher somehow. Like a pedestrian-versus-car version of Stand Your Ground Laws. Except that in this version, the driver is granted criminal and civil immunity even if they kill a pedestrian.

Just so long as the pedestrian is in the street and the driver can claim that he was “fleeing” from a mob and feared for his safety.

It’s not clear to me why laws like this wouldn’t have shielded Heather Heyer’s killer.

And that’s exactly what Republicans intend.


The most important issue in politics is the transformation of the Republican party into an organism that seeks to establish rule not through democratic means, but through institutional leverage.

And anyone who refuses to call things by right names is enabling it.

You don’t have to do that. You can stand against it.

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2. Conservative Snowflake or the Onion?

The Orlando Sentinel decided to run an op-ed by a gentleman from Las Vegas who is very concerned about Disney World:

Disney has been politicizing its business. Full disclosure: I am a Christian and a conservative Republican, so the people who run Disney and I do not see eye to eye. . . .

Disney is in the process of taking the woke scalpel to the Jungle Cruise. Trader Sam is out because he might offend certain people. Every grown-up in the room realizes that Trader Sam is not a representation of reality and is meant as a funny and silly caricature. It is no more based in racism than every Disney caricature of an out-of-touch white American dad.

The next time I ride Jungle Cruise I will not be thinking about the gloriously entertaining puns of the skippers, I will be thinking about Disney’s political agenda. That’s a mood killer. . . .

Disney proclaims that Splash Mountain must change because of its association with “Song of the South.” Disney owns Splash Mountain so it can do what it wants. But if Disney screams at the top of its corporate voice, which is pretty loud, that it is changing it to appease a certain political point of view, now every time I look at the ride I am thinking about politics.

The same with Pirates of the Caribbean. Disney has made significant changes to Pirates of the Caribbean over the years. Whether Disney caved to political pressure or really thought the alterations were necessary is irrelevant.

Pirates used to be one of my favorite attractions. My family would always ride it first on our first day at the Magic Kingdom. Now, we do not even ride it every trip. When my family rides Pirates now, each of the changed scenes takes us out of the illusion because they remind us of reality and the politics that forced the changes.

Okay, now comes the part where the writer tries to threaten the citizens of Orlando:

This should matter to the people of Orlando because, if Disney drives away customers like me, Orlando loses money. I can take my tourist dollars elsewhere. I would rather keep spending them in Orlando but people like me feel more and more excluded by Disney’s decisions.

Bring back The Song of the South . . . or else!

So here is my question: Could this piece possibly be real? As in, really written by a grown-ass man who is deeply hurt by minor changes at a children’s theme park?

Before you answer that, let me tell you that the “name” of this guy is supposedly “Jonathan VanBoskerck.”

And that the picture “Mr. VanBoskereck” gave to the Sentinel along with his essay is this:

This has to be a put-on, right? Like the Onion slipped a story into a mainstream newspaper. Or someone is running a false-flag operation to make “conservative Christian Republicans” look as pathetic as possible.

Because if this is a real thing, by a real man, who really thought he had a point to make . . .

Then I’d say that it was cruel of the Sentinel to publish the piece instead of politely suggesting that it was better suited to Facebook.


3. Friday Steiner