(Tom Toles)
Editorial cartoonist

Remember the graphic of the water cycle where rain falls onto the mountain, runs down into the ocean, then evaporates back into the clouds to complete the circle and start all over again? There was a similar one for gases, with animals breathing in oxygen, breathing out carbon dioxide, then plants taking in carbon dioxide and giving off oxygen, which was in turn taken up by corporate shills who dishonestly claimed that the power plants belching out tons and tons of additional carbon dioxide would have no effect on this system. Or something like that.

But there is a similar cycle for the political machine of movement conservatism. It works like this: Republican lawmakers appoint friendly judges, the friendly judges make friendly rulings on campaign money, the friendly money helps elect friendly Republicans, friendly Republicans pass tax cuts for their friendly rich friends, and then they are rewarded by their friendly rich friends and then the cycle goes into rinse and repeat. In short, you scratch my friends and I’ll send some scratch to yours.

What this friends-of-friends system does not include is economic equality or justice, social equality or justice, or environmental equality or justice, up to and including preserving the cycles of actual nature on which every system depends. You could call it the unicycle to oblivion.

The construction of this system has been in the works for decades, and the project is nearly complete. It now includes such features as offloading countercyclical jurists such as Merrick Garland, and radical amplifiers such as Donald Trump. It has also been slowly disposing of the actual interests of the voters whose anger has been ginned up by all those campaign ads. But any resulting erosion of support has been made up for with gerrymandering and voter suppression.

Can this cycle actually be self-sustaining and permanent? To paraphrase climate obfuscators, the political climate changes all the time. Maybe this year voters will have had enough of it, get up a head of steam, and go rain hard on the Republican parade.