We've got a fair number of repentant former Republicans roaming loose on the political landscape these days. They like to tell us that the onetime Party of Lincoln must be thoroughly defeated and destroyed before it can be rebuilt as a respectable, mainstream center-right organization. That's an encouraging team-building exercise, I guess — if we set aside everything about observable reality and play an extended game of Let's Pretend We're Grownups, like a bunch of eight-year-olds trying on Mom and Dad's Clinton-era wardrobe.
Even looking past the question of whether the reconstructed GOP 2.0 these folks imagine would be remotely viable (as to which: ha!), we still have the question of who's going to defeat the exceptionally nasty current version of the Republican Party, and how. These GOP apostates, it's worth noting, were totally OK with cutting taxes for the rich and running up massive deficits on endless, pointless, destructive overseas wars. They find themselves deeply shocked, however, by the party's swerve into overt racism, know-nothingism and borderline fascism, elements of the Republican coalition they believed could be kept in the basement indefinitely.
This call to arms by ex-Reaganites is presumably meant to fire up Democrats, who have been told repeatedly over the past 30 years or more that America's changing demographics were certain to deliver them a permanent majority coalition someday very, very soon. In this less-than-inspiring vision of utopia, benevolent intersectional liberals would govern wisely and forever, while Republicans would be consigned to regional, resentful rump-party status until and unless they gradually became a lot more like Democrats.
As you may have noticed, this keeps on not happening, and at this point the "emerging Democratic majority" is starting to sound like old-time Soviet dogma about true communism being just over the horizon. Yes, Democrats have won the popular vote in seven of the last eight presidential elections — while managing to lose two of those anyway — but for a variety of reasons I don't need to rehearse here have found it impossible to hold or build congressional majorities, or to do much of anything with them when they have them.
More important than any of that, although absolutely related, is how Democrats have responded to the obvious Republican assault on democracy over the last couple of years, in the manner of a truckload of Brookings Institution scholars stuck in cold molasses, determined to consider all sides of the question fairly and not to let anyone accuse them of acting hastily. I'm not suggesting that Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer haven't expressed genuine alarm or said more or less the right things, because they have. But as you have perhaps observed, they haven't leveraged those words into action: They haven't ditched the filibuster or expanded the Supreme Court or passed any of the bills in front of them that are meant to fortify the right to vote, for the love of Jesus Christ.
This isn't a nice thing to say about a bunch of mostly sane and approximately reasonable people, but here's the truth: If you set out to design a left-center political party that was fated to surrender, little by little, to authoritarianism — because of circumstances beyond its control, because of internal indecision and ideological fuzziness, because it faced an entrenched and deranged opposition party, because of whatever — you could hardly do better than the current version of the Democratic Party.
This raises the question of whether the Republicans are the only party that needs to be badly defeated in order to recover a sense of purpose. Don't get me wrong here: It would be far preferable if the Democrats could work out how to win power and then use it effectively. I'm not advocating voting against them out of some contrarian or puritanical impulse, and I'm not even dragging out the old Bernie vs. Hillary generational and ideological conflict for another go-round. (Of course that remains an important source of friction, but it's genuinely not the central issue right now.)
If the current mishmash that is the Democratic Party simply isn't up to the task, if it's imprisoned by its donors and trapped in an old political paradigm while facing the birth of a new one, if it can't summon up the energy or determination to act decisively on behalf of supposedly shared principles, then what the hell is the point? Maybe they're the party that needs to be torn down and rebuilt, especially since the other one is an entirely lost cause.
Consider 2021 — yeah, I know you don't want to, but we don't have much choice. After the election of Joe Biden and the improbable reverse parlay of winning both Senate seats in Georgia — almost entirely thanks to the chaos-agent intervention of Donald J. Trump — liberals and progressives and normies of all descriptions exhaled audibly. We were back to "normal"! The nightmare had passed! Maybe the long-awaited Democratic majority had arrived at last, if only in ass-backward and highly precarious fashion … except nope, nobody believed that for more than a few minutes, considering that the day after the special elections in Georgia was the sixth of January.
I'm not saying that Mitch McConnell wanted to lose the Senate majority (I bet he had some choice words about Trump in private), but no one has ever accused Mitch of not knowing how to play the angles. He quickly understood how to turn the ambiguous results of 2020 to his advantage, and they were undeniably ambiguous: Democrats breezed into that election expecting big wins across the board, but instead lost most of their House majority and fell short in several prominent Senate races, failing to gain seats in Maine, Montana and North Carolina.
While regular people celebrated a victory and the supposed end of the Trump era, Democratic leaders and insiders looked ahead to the 2022 midterms and began to whimper uncontrollably. McConnell could smell the fear, to put it bluntly, and rubbed his hands with Montgomery Burns-like glee. With a 50-50 Senate and Biden's entire legislative agenda hamstrung by the filibuster and the nonsensical or corrupt Ringwraith fantasies of Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, he had the Democrats trapped. They knew it and he knew it.
In a display of ruthlessness and cynicism that's impressive even by his standards, McConnell will force all 50 Democratic senators to vote on a budget and on raising the federal debt ceiling, which in quasi-normal times (and even under Trump) was done by bipartisan agreement. This will either force them to crumple and capitulate to whatever it is he wants (short version: more goodies for rich folks) or will create an invented wedge issue Mitch believes he can use to win back both houses of Congress next year. Republicans will pretend to run on fiscal responsibility but will actually run on a bunch of culture-war bullshit and promises to rig all future elections and unquestioned loyalty to a decrepit and defeated leader they all privately think is nuts. I'm sure looking forward to that, aren't you?
If Democrats lose conclusively to those people, then they deserve it. That's a dark path, perhaps darker than any of us wants to contemplate. But I think there's no avoiding this date with destiny, for the Democrats or the Trumpers or our entire so-called democratic experiment. If you see another one, light the way.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis came under fire from Democratic lawmakers and public health experts following the Republican's Tuesday announcement that Dr. Joseph Ladapo—who opposes mask and coronavirus vaccine mandates—would be the state's next surgeon general.
"I'm speechless. I attended medical school with Dr. Joseph Ladapo and to say I'm shocked by his opposition to mask and vaccine mandates is an understatement."
—Dr. Uché Blackstock, physician
The Miami Herald reports Ladapo, a Harvard-trained physician and researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, will oversee the Florida Department of Health pending confirmation by the state's Republican-controlled Senate.
Known for advocating individual liberty over community-based precautions in the fight against Covid-19, Ladapo's views on masks and vaccines closely align with those of DeSantis, whose July executive order banning school mask mandates was ruled unconstitutional by a state judge the following month.
"Florida will completely reject fear as a way of making policies," Ladapo said during a Tuesday press conference in Tallahassee.
"Vaccines are up to the person. There's nothing special about them compared to any other preventive measure," he added. "The state should be promoting good health, and vaccination isn't the only path to that. It's been treated almost like a religion. It's just senseless."
I'm speechless. I attended medical school with Dr. Joseph Ladapo and to say I'm shocked by his opposition to mask a… https://t.co/4Rng6ARXVG— uché blackstock, md (@uché blackstock, md) 1632259764.0
According to The New York Times, Florida currently has the United States' highest number of daily Covid-19 deaths, the nation's second-highest per-capita mortality rate, and a death rate nearly three times the national average.
As The Guardian reports:
Last week, Florida surpassed 50,000 coronavirus deaths since the pandemic begun, with around one in every 400 Florida residents who were alive in March 2020 now dead from the virus. Only cancer and heart disease has killed more Floridians in this time.
In a June opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal, Ladapo and Yale epidemiologist Harvey A. Risch wrote that "the risks of a Covid-19 vaccine may outweigh the benefits for certain low-risk populations, such as children, young adults and people who have recovered from Covid-19." The authors cited reports in the federal Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS)—which are unverified and can be filed by anyone.
Remember this press conference on the steps of the Supreme Court - doctors touting hydroxychloroquine, prompting pr… https://t.co/u2FImJwi7R— Jay O'Brien (@Jay O'Brien) 1632259874.0
Ladapo also raised alarm among public health experts after signing the Great Barrington Declaration, a statement by a trio of public health experts calling on governments to lift lockdown restrictions on young and healthy people in order to spread the coronavirus to enough people to achieve herd immunity.
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called the herd immunity theory proposed in the declaration "scientifically and ethically problematic," while National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Dr. Anthony Fauci blasted the document as "nonsense and very dangerous."
U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.)—who served as Florida's Republican governor from 2007 to 2011 and is running for the office again as a Democrat—tweeted Tuesday that Ladapo's selection as surgeon general "is a complete slap in the face to the families of the more than 50,000 Floridians who have died from Covid."
In a statement, Florida state Sen. Janet Cruz (D-18) said that "the governor has chosen someone who has questioned the safety of the Covid vaccines, has advocated against masks as a way to stop the spread of the virus, and who believes herd immunity through natural infection is the best possible way to end this pandemic."
Hospitals across Montana are being overwhelmed by unvaccinated patients as the state's death toll rises and county health officials keep resigning as backlash by Covid-deniers has required police to intervene.
On Friday, Sanders County Health Officer Nick Lawyer resigned after being blamed for the death of a man's wife who did not receive Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine.
Only days later, on Tuesday, Butte-Silver Bow announced Health Officer Karen Sullivan would be retiring.
Another resignation of one of Montana's 56 health officers was announced only the next day.
"On Wednesday afternoon at their quarterly meeting, The Blaine County Board of Health accepted the resignation of Health Officer and Public Health Nurse Jana McPherson-Hauer, effective Friday, October 15th," Josh Margolis reported for Hi-Line Today.
Also on Tuesday, Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte announced he was deploying National Guard across the state despite the widespread availability of free, safe, and effective vaccines. Gianforte signed the nation's only law preventing hospitals from requiring vaccination by medical staff.
"The hospitals include St. Peter's Health in Helena, St. James Healthcare in Butte, Bozeman Health, Missoula County hospitals, Billings Clinic and St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings. Billings Clinic had already received 10 volunteer National Guard troops last week and will receive an additional 10 troops following a second request," Montana Public Radio reported.
The state was also back in the national news on Wednesday as Rachel Maddow discussed Helena's crisis standards of care and NBC News reporter Gabe Gutierrez aired a follow-up report on MSNBC that Patrick Burschia, 24, had became the youngest person to die at the Billings Clinic.
Burshia was unvaccinated.
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