But Jeb Bush, the Republican scion who served as governor of Florida, wants us to cheer up. Don’t fall “into the trap that conservative[s] are defined by what goes on in Washington DC,” he tweeted on Friday night. “We are a bottom up country and all of this hyper focus on DC politics is wrong. Look to conservatives in the States and those doing great work outside of organized politics.”
I like Jeb Bush. He is a fine gentleman and a principled conservative. But this is merely evidence of how out of touch he is with what his party has become. The “conservatives in the States” aren’t more sensible than the ones in Washington. They are actually far scarier.
Most Republican members of Congress know that the “big lie” is not true; they’re just too cowardly to say so. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) estimates that only five House members believe that the election was really stolen. By contrast, 70 percent of Republican voters in a recent CNN poll said that President Biden did not legitimately win the election. That number hardly hints at the intensity of Trumpist fervor at the local level.
Cheney isn’t losing only her House leadership position; she is likely to lose her House seat. In a recent poll by the Club for Growth, 52 percent of Republican voters in Wyoming said they would vote against her in a primary, while only 14 percent said they would definitely vote for her. She has already been censured for impeaching Trump by the state Republican Party; only eight members of the 74-person central committee opposed the censure resolution.
Similar censure resolutions of the Republicans who dared to impeach Trump for inciting an insurrection have been passed by numerous other Republican state parties. The latest resolution was passed on Friday by the Ohio party censuring Rep. Anthony Gonzalez. While this was happening, The Post noted, “Josh Mandel, a former Ohio state treasurer, called Gonzalez a ‘traitor’ and tweeted that he ‘should be eradicated from the Republican Party.’” This is the kind of language you expect from the North Korean Workers’ Party, but it has become routine in the Trumplican Party.
Sen. Mitt Romney — a former GOP presidential nominee — barely avoided a censure resolution in Utah, but he was shouted down and booed at its convention. The yahoos in the audience called him a “traitor” and a “communist.” “Aren’t you embarrassed?” he asked. Nope. They are too deluded and fanatical for such ordinary human emotions.
Kinzinger received a more personal and sinister rebuke from 11 members of his family. They wrote a letter telling him “what a disappointment you are to us and to God.” By opposing Trump, he had joined “the devil’s army.” (So … does that make Trump God?)
The Republicans who control the Arizona state Senate have even launched a bizarro effort, closely followed at Mar-a-Lago, to show that the election really was stolen in Maricopa County. No evidence of fraud? No problem. They’ve hired a cyber security firm run by conspiracy theorists who are testing the ballots for bamboo fibers because they suspect that thousands of fraudulent ballots were flown in from Southeast Asia. I’m surprised they’re not calling in psychics to obtain a confession from the late Hugo Chávez that he masterminded the whole plot.
Since this is a column, not an encyclopedia, I can only begin to scratch the surface of grass-roots Republican derangement and extremism. I can mention only in passing that Republicans in the Michigan House of Representatives recently heard testimony on vaccine passports from Naomi Wolf, who has become notorious for spreading covid-19 lies. That the Michigan state Republican chairman referred to Democrats as “witches” and speculated about the assassination of pro-impeachment Republicans. That one of the leading GOP candidates for governor of Virginia called the mob that stormed the Capitol “patriots.” That GOP state legislators around the country have praised the constitutional provision that enslaved people would count as only three-fifths of a person in determining congressional representation. And, worst of all, that GOP-controlled state legislatures are passing legislation to restrict voting in order, ostensibly, to combat election fraud (which is nearly nonexistent and completely inconsequential).
Any suggestion that state-level Republicans are more sane and sensible than the big shots in D.C. is farcical. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis referred to states as “laboratories” of democracy. Republicans are turning them into a Frankenstein lab where they are concocting monstrous lies and nightmarish legislation to tear down our democracy. Sorry, Jeb. Salvation for the GOP won’t come from the state level. Based on the current trajectory, it won’t come at all.