A Tale of Two Parties: Bleak House

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

What we are losing, after the Midterms:

“…advocates for Black farmers {hailed} the most significant piece of legislation since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — about $4 billion in President Biden’s massive pandemic stimulus package to rectify decades of discrimination. Minority farmers began investing in new machinery and other improvements, anticipating tens of thousands of dollars in government aid.

“But today, the landmark deal on behalf of historically disadvantaged farmers is dead — successfully challenged in court by a fledgling conservative organization that argued the program racially discriminated against White farmers. “ NY Times

There’s no other way to put it: the 14th Amendment, designed to ensure equal citizen ship for ex-slaves, is now used by Trump’s racist appointees, starting at the top, to shit on them.

“Biden Devotes $36 Billion to Save Union Workers’ Pensions. The money comes from last year’s Covid-19 relief package and will avert cuts of up to 60 percent in pensions for 350,000 Teamster truck drivers, warehouse and construction workers and food processors.”

“Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the tally triumphantly, banging the gavel repeatedly as if to applaud as members of the House cheered. “ (MSNBC) “Today, we stand up for the values the vast majority of Americans hold dear: A belief in the dignity, beauty and divinity — spark of divinity — in every person, and abiding respect for love so powerful that it binds two people together,” Ms. Pelosi said in a speech from the House floor before the vote. As a Jew, it’s easy for me to ask this question: Is there a single Republican in the House or Senate who is actually a believing Christian?

1. But now, on to the aftermath. First, however, an announcement about this blog: I’ll no longer be using the terms “Blue” and “Red” to describe the American states, adopted because some electoral maps were randomly made to do that some years ago. They tell us nothing, except what we already know: we are a split nation.

The correct pair of identifiers, to my mind, is that some of us live in Free States (as in 1861), and other Americans are living in The Confederacy. To be sure, the residents of the Dakotas, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, and Nebraska were not Confederate, but their present-day political leanings are indistinguishable from those of Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, South Carolina, or Tennessee; except that they are almost all overwhelmingly white, with politics to match.

As for those that are the only ones that actually count in election month: PA, MI, WI, AZ, NV, GA, perhaps NH. I call them by their accurate title: the battleground states.

2. That said, for the first time in years, more Americans will live in a state fully controlled by Democrats than in ones fully controlled by Republicans. Thanks to their wins in state-legislative or gubernatorial re-elections, Democrats took control of four state governments in the 2022 elections: Michigan, Minnesota, Vermont and PA: which will have its first Black woman speaker — ever.

They also broke the GOP monopoly on power in Arizona and, potentially, New Hampshire; kept full control of state government in four of the five states where they were in danger of losing it; and prevented Republicans from taking full control of North Carolina, Wisconsin and maybe even Alaska.

Republicans, on the other hand, didn’t flip a single legislative chamber. This is the first midterm election since at least 1934 that the president’s party hasn’t lost a state-legislative chamber.

3. That’s the story of the Land of the Free. However, there are two separate issues here. The first is who controls the institutional levers of power; the second is what if anything the midterms portend about the balance of voting in the battleground states. With regard to the first, yes, the Midterms were an unexpected victory.

Democrats, inspired by the Dobbs decision and the evident sickness of election denial, indeed tipped that balance. Biden’s performance as President, as far as we can tell, nay have hindered and yet his “save democracy speeches also helped. Be that as it may, “The last time Midterms had such an effect, in 1934, was in the middle of FDR’s New Deal, which had turned the tide of the Great Depression and begun to empower organized labor.”

Also, Ralph Warnock’s victory has a surprisingly powerful effect. With 51 seats against 49( or even only 50 without Sinema, though more on that shortly) as various commentators have pointed out the Democrats can confirm judicial and administration nominees who’ve been sitting in limbo for almost two years; as well as conducting their own investigations into Republicans who will make Hunter Biden look like no more than the over-paid nebbish he is; along with the ability to subpoena witnesses without the cooperation of Republicans. Just wait, Jim Jordan!

But as to the second issue: “180 House Republicans who cast doubt on the outcome of the 2020 election won their races. And, a number of candidates who marched near the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 were elected.” –That’s not exactly an augury of peace. And there will be more to come.

Still, for the moment, we can forget the numbers, and condition of the Congress and the Administration, since nothing real is going to happen–except what the Supreme Court might decide in its majority’s rush to destroy the Republic and reinstall the Confederacy. Otherwise Republicans will attack and Democrats will defend, and do whatever can be done without a filibuster to defeat. Which won’t be much.

From an optimistic standpoint, then, what’s most significant about Election Night (Nights) is that every battleground state–those in which the electorate has not yet conclusively decided to which Nation it should belong–the position which oversees elections was won by a Democrat, and in every such state the Confederates were denied a super-majority that wold enable them to override the vetoes of a Democratic governor.

Thus the Election itself was a clear victory for small d “democracy,” root and branch; and a defeat for autocracy and neo-Fascism. As if to emphasize that point, Arizona voters also defeated a vote-suppressing referendum by substantial numbers; and voters from both parties overwhelmingly demanded that big, anonymous political donors reveal their identities.

4. “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
ouches toward Bethlehem to be born?”
–W. B. Yeats, “The Second Coming”

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It’s unclear–it may forever be hidden in some obscure statistical corner of the digital universe–what Party won the most total votes in all elections during the midterms, though Republicans did so in the House. Overall, In Free States yes, there were big winners in California, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Illinois; but some crucial wins were barely eke out: Wisconsin, Arizona, Georgia. Contrarily, though, among Confederate states in many races for Governor there were landslide Republican winners:, Florida, Texas, Ohio, and in battlegrounds Georgia, Nevada, and New Hampshire.

In other words, Democrats almost always win the popular vote in Presidential elections, but depend on what I’m calling battleground states to win the Electoral College; and in the state governments, at least those in which election deniers were not running, they haven’t in the past done nearly as well. What does this mean concretely?

As it stands, of the 66 electoral votes In the five most populous battleground states, Democrats must win at least 36 to keep the election out of the House of representatives. I well remember getting up on the morning of Election Day 2016 to look at Nate Kohn’s final analysis in the Times, and saw that Florida was clearly going to be carried by Trump; and although Cohn said nothing about the big Five, but merely listed them as “too close to call,” I realized with a sense of horror that Trump had only to win three of those states, and perhaps only two, to win it all. Hillary Clinton needed to win at least three and perhaps four. Armageddon.

That condition has barely changed: Biden won all of them, but three by paper-thin margins. And if someone other than an election denier wins the GOP nomination; or if Trump keeps his base in play–the fate of the Two Nations is still in play. He is the world champion at playing the victim: any attempt to call him to account–and these cannot and must not be put off — can only make him worse.

5. And a very worrisome reflection I had about a week ago, before 538.com started writing about it, and HuffPost just confirmed it with the following headline; other pundits have followed suit:

“Democrats celebrating a successful effort to keep control of the U.S. Senate this year will soon confront a 2024 campaign that could prove more challenging.”

“More challenging”? You bet. To put it simply, there is no State in which a sitting Republican faces a serious challenge for re-election. But there are currently Democratic seats at stake in the battleground states of Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin , not to mention the Republican states of Montana, West Virginia, and Ohio. (It’s worth noting here that Joe Manchin is a safe vote on must civil rights issues and on judicial nominations, as is Kyrsten Sinema.) And the Republicans who will be taking their places, if elected, will mostly not take on the MAGA world, or are part of it. If the Democrats lose two of those seats they lose the Senate; and Sinema’s defection could cost them Arizona.

Moreover, as Nate Silver tentatively suggests, “Democrats have a narrow path to Senate control after 2024, but it’s narrow indeed, and one that might require the GOP continuing to nominate bad candidates — and a fair share of luck.” For all of us.

6. Getting down to the ghastly world of the Right, what might Republicans be like whenever and wherever they have a chance to govern, aside from increasing the military budget and to the same extent defunding the general welfare: decimating Social Security and Medicare and eradicating all programs designed to combat global warming (which is merely a scam concocted by the evil AOC) — if they can blackmail the Senate Democrats by refusing to raise the debt limit and cause the U.S. to go into default.

Here are some hints:

“Ms. McMorris Rodgers has pledged to use her perch to scrutinize the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, including bringing Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the chief medical adviser to the president and a favorite target of Republicans, before her panel. Oversight of Dr. Fauci’s actions, she has said, “will continue past his departure and until the American people have the answers they need.”

‘Mr. Jordan has pledged to investigate what he describes as the politicization of the Justice Department and the F.B.I. His staff recently released a 1,000-page report on the subject, but it was mostly a collection of letters the panel sent. Mr. McCarthy said this week that Mr. Jordan and Mr. Comer would lead an investigation into the homeland security secretary, Alejandro N. Mayorkas, to “determine whether to begin an impeachment inquiry.”’

BTW: DHS has just released a report spelling out the terrorist threat for the far Right. Any connection? Just asking.

First Murderer: “It will be rain tonight. “
Second Murderer “Let it come down.”

— Macbeth, Act 3, Scene 3

What we have to understand but is so hard to comprehend is that contemporary Republicans have no interest at all in governing, or making pubic policy. Enrich the rich and themselves, and otherwise just get vengeance for being subjected to democratic institutions and values, and may the devil take the hindmost. So, what to expect:

Kevin McCarthy plans an immediate investigation of the January 6 Committee, says The Times. However, he may be sidetracked by his invitation to join the control group for an NEH -sponsored study about the ongoing epidemic of loss of spinal function.

But why not? Led by the traitorous Liz Cheney (daughter of that notorious Communist Dick Cheney), the Committee turned a peaceful get-together (of whom is not quite clear) into a show trial à la the Soviet Union in 1936–7. All those fake Republicans were really an advance guard of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

What else? “Republicans, having blocked requests for next-generation vaccine funding since the spring amid complaints about how the White House spent earlier pandemic aid allocations, have shown no signs of dropping their resistance.”

“Trump’s White House blocked government websites aimed at helping Americans vote, fighting human trafficking, easing homelessness, and stopping fraud.”

The Inquisitor-General of the Confederate State of Indiana has asked the state’s AMA Board to revoke the license of Dr. Caitlyn Bernard, for providing an abortion for a pregnant 10-year old.

7. Finally, the disinformation machine is in full swing, and shows no signs of abating. The concepts of “facts” and “truth” begin to look like the Maginot Line in 1940: defending against an invading horde of lies (many of them indeed recycled by Fox News, Trump Social, and all the other even seamier sources from the Nazi propaganda ministry) that only need a work-around to outflank the defenders: that is, us.

To know therefore whom we may be dealing with for…some length of time, it is only necessary to look at some recent interventions.

Gavin Wax, President of the NYC Young Republican Club:“we want total war. We must be prepared to do battle in every arena. In the media. In the courtroom. At the ballot box. And in the streets.”

Per CNN: Marjorie Taylor Greene , Kevin McCarthy’s new boss, “suggested that if she had been in charge of the crowds attacking the US Capitol on January 6, they would have been armed and won”. Just a joke — tee hee.

Next up: the reprehensible but predictable response to Britney Griner’s safe return: Fox News is wild with outrage: no discussion about alternatives and consequences, just hatred: enough evidence to impeach Biden, adds MTG. Topped off by Donnie Jr., who invariably speaks with the worst possible voice of his father:

“No one cuts better deals than Biden. We get an awful America hating WNBA player, while Russia gets an INTERNATIONAL ARMS DEALER!!!” Griner, who has brought championships to Russian basketball teams, stands for everything MAGA hates. I won’t go into that. Note that prisoner Paul Whelan, the Right’s new poster boy, denounces Trump for having never even mentioned his name to the Russians, while Biden brings him up at every opportunity.

But oh yes” “Fears of Violence Rise on New Front in Gender Debate: Drag Shows… Protesters[ armed, not ‘protesting’ but hating–PG], conservative commentators and Republican politicians have accused the performers of targeting children, raising the stakes and the threats.”

“Transgender Americans Feel Under Siege as Political Vitriol Rises…Language about pedophiles and “grooming” of young children has intensified….”

Nothing means anything. E. M. Forster wrote,”Only connect.” The new and improved Right-wing version: “Only Destroy.” Humans need not apply.

Yes, “how low can you go?” Lower…




Emeritus Professor of Gov’t, Smith College, 40 years Editorial Board, The Nation, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Green_(author)

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