One thing we probably haven’t appreciated enough about the Trumpification of the Republican Party (and the Tea Partification that preceded the rise of Hair Furor) is that it poses a double-edged risk. One blade is against the throat of the governed. In a two-party system, when kooks have taken over one party, people in individual states and everyone in the nation faces substantial risk of finding ourselves governed by kooks.
We experienced that together as Americans for four years during the Trump Error, and those of us in states with Trumpy Republican governors are still experiencing that now, with our rights continuing to be eroded and our health put at greater risk by extremists. It looks like that risk dynamic will be in play in 2022 and probably will be again in 2024 unless the kooks are slapped down extra hard next year.
But the other side of that blade is against the throat of the kook-infested party, which may alienate regular people with their extremism and lose winnable races. We saw that happen in the Tea Party extremist heyday when nuts like that “I’m not a witch” lady, the woman who advocated paying medical bills with chickens and the “legitimate rape” dude all lost because voters recoiled from their kookery.
Josh Marshall has a paywalled piece on this phenomenon, and damn, until I read it, I had no idea what was going on in Arizona (beyond the heroic quest for self-actualization by a certain senator who represents that state whom we’re all rather weary of discussing). Here’s a CNN fact check on current GOP gubernatorial frontrunner Kari Lake, who’s endorsed by the My Pillow guy and Trump:
CNN: Lake has baselessly advocated the imprisonment of state Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who is now running for governor, over unspecified election crimes… And Lake has said she would not have certified Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in Arizona if she had been governor. She also continues to demand the decertification of the Arizona result today, though that is a legal impossibility.
Lake was a local Fox presenter and now she’s issuing bizarre fatwas from Trump Cult Cuckooland? Could be a Democratic pickup opportunity, or the people of Arizona could end up with a governor who’s even worse than DeSantis of Florida or Abbott of Texas. As Marshall says, it’s a double-edged sword:
Gubernatorial elections in mid-term years always have an advantage for the out-party. But running Trump extremists who are demanding their opponents go to prison could end up electing Democrats. I’m not being pollyannish about. An off-year election is a good time to elect extremists. But it captures what amounts to a high-stakes double or nothing character to these next two years.
He’s probably right. Invest in Tums futures. Open thread!