Friday, June 25, 2021

The Big Lie, Con't

The Big Lie continues, and Lee Drutman of the Democracy Fund's Voter Study Group has an in-depth report on just how twisted Republican rank-and-file voters are, who continue to overwhelmingly believe the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump, and that increasingly dangerous measures need to be taken in order to correct that "fraud".

On January 6, 2021, a mob of pro-Trump supporters stormed the United States Capitol. The mob came directly from a Trump rally where the president had urged them to “show strength” and told them that “When you catch somebody in a fraud, you are allowed to go by very different rules.”(i)

In the months leading up to the election, Trump had repeatedly claimed that the only way Democrats could win would be through massive fraud. The pandemic shift to mailed ballots gave him and his allies a convenient target for their allegations. After the election, the president doubled down on his claims of fraud. A growing cadre of Republican elected officials and conservative media commentators followed along, pushing the Stop the Steal narrative: Democrats had somehow cheated, and Trump was the rightful winner.

In the months since, Republican politicians across the country have supported the narrative of a stolen election. The embrace has been especially strong in state Republican parties, and especially in states where the contest was relatively close. Republican Party officials who have argued that Biden won the 2020 election fair and square, like Georgia Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Nevada Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, have been censured by state party committees.(ii) In Congress, House Republicans voted to remove Representative Liz Cheney from her leadership post for speaking out against the narrative of a stolen election.

The Stop the Steal movement is also driving a new wave of Republican-drafted state laws that restrict voting access — specifically targeting modes of voting favored by Democratic constituencies(iii) — and that change the ways in which elections are administered, empowering partisan state legislatures over professional election administrators and secretaries of state.(iv)

Meanwhile, Trump himself looms as a significant presence and the likely frontrunner in the 2024 Republican primary, should he decide to run. One sign of his sway over the party is the extent to which Republican elected officials at all levels, as well as conservative advocacy groups, devoted themselves to changing the rules of elections, in response to alleged, but unproven, fraud.(v) These developments raise an obvious question: Is this the future of the Republican Party? One way to answer this question is to ask another: What do Republican voters think about Trump and his claims of a stolen election? And more specifically, what other attitudes are most common among Republicans who most strongly believe the election was stolen and are most loyal in their support of Trump?

Republicans widely supported Trump both before and after the election,(vi) and Republicans also widely believe that the 2020 election was stolen.(vii) But we know less about which Republicans are most bought into the claim of a stolen election and which Republicans are most devoted to Trump.

A typical approach when answering questions such as these is to focus on specific and frequently binary polling questions, such as whether Republicans think of themselves as Trump Republicans or Party Republicans;(1) or whether Republicans believe Joe Biden fairly won the election or that Biden’s win was due to widespread fraud.(2) It’s important to keep in mind that any singular polling question misses the gradations of support or ambivalence.

In this analysis, I take a different approach. Using data from the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group VOTER Survey (Views of the Electorate Research Survey), I combine answers across numerous survey questions to generate various “scores” that reflect more complexity and diversity of attitudes among Republican voters. By averaging across multiple questions, we can see how deeply devoted some Republicans are to both the stolen election narrative and to Trump, as well as what other attitudes and outlooks are most prevalent among these devotees.

The results of this analysis confirm much of what many others have observed — Republican support for Trump and the stolen election narrative is broad but not universal. This variation among Republicans is important because it allows us to identify the characteristics of the most devout supporters and better understand the challenges the Republican Party faces in moving past the grievance politics of Trump and his acolytes.

This analysis shows Republicans most committed to both Trump and the narrative of election fraud also tend to have the highest levels of antipathy toward Democrats and toward immigrants, strongest belief that racism is not a problem, highest levels of nationalism, greatest support for traditional family values and gender roles, and strongest belief in a very limited role for government in the economy
The ugliest part of the survey is that 46% of Republicans wanted GOP state legislatures to overturn election results in states Biden won, and another third of Republicans weren't happy about it but would have accepted it. There's a reason state legislative annulment is something both Georgia's and Florida's new election rigging laws allow, and something Texas's proposed law allows as a special legislative session in that state is expected soon. 

That's the plan in 2022 and 2024. Battleground states like Florida, Georgia, NC, Wisconsin, and Michigan are all vulnerable to this nonsense, and the problem of potential violence may be the worst in Michigan

As Michigan state Rep. Donna Lasinski got out of her car at the state Capitol in Lansing on a sunny morning last week, she was greeted by two people carrying what she described as assault rifles while protesters outside the building called for an audit of the 2020 election.

Such disconcerting encounters are not uncommon in Lansing — a reflection of persistent and growing tension gripping Michigan eight months after Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump and more than a year after arrests were made in a plot to kidnap and kill Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Attacks on the integrity of the 2020 election have persisted in this state, where local county officials are contending with demands by some residents to review ballots for possible fraud. The mounting calls by Trump supporters to revisit the election results are creating a thorny dilemma for the state Republican Party, which has sought to fend off those efforts, even as GOP officials seek changes to election law.

On Wednesday, a Republican-controlled state Senate committee issued a report forcefully rejecting the claims of widespread fraud in the state, saying citizens should be confident in the results and skeptical of “those who have pushed demonstrably false theories for their own personal gain.”

The chairman of the Oversight Committee that produced the report, Sen. Ed McBroom, said in an accompanying letter that “at this point, I feel confident to assert the results of the Michigan election are accurately represented by the certified and audited results.”

But the report also recommended changes to the election system, providing fodder for Republican officials who — like their counterparts in other states — are seeking to pass strict new voting rules, hoping to use a quirk in state law to sidestep an expected veto from the Democratic governor.

Last week, a few hundred demonstrators carrying boxes of affidavits signed by thousands of people demanding a state ballot audit showed up at the Capitol. On Tuesday, a GOP legislator introduced a bill to start the audit process, although it so far does not have support among other lawmakers.

The drumbeat for audits has been accompanied by increasingly violent and vitriolic threats against state and local officials. The escalating rhetoric has left legislators from both parties lamenting what happened to the state that was home to moderate political consensus builders such as President Gerald Ford, governor George Romney and the late representative John Dingell.

As Lasinski, the House Democratic leader, walked to her office last week, speakers on the Capitol steps lambasted officials who have resisted requests to review last year’s ballots and asserted that the election was well-run and that Biden received more votes than Trump.

“They are lying,” said Matthew DePerno, a lawyer who is spearheading the petition drive. A small crowd cheered as he denounced Michigan’s secretary of state as a “tyrant” and the state’s Democratic governor as “the Fuhrer” and claimed that county clerks — many of them Republicans — had engaged in racketeering and conspiracy.

“These people have committed crimes,” he said.

“Put them in shackles,” shouted a man in the crowd, to whoops and applause.

Lasinski said the atmosphere has grown more fraught by the day.

“It seems we have become ground zero in this effort we see across the country to suppress democracy and deny the peaceful transfer of power,” she said.

DePerno did not respond to a request for comment.
Already this is a state where the feds had to break up a plot to kidnap Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer by terrorists who wanted to force her to overturn the election, to kill her, or both.

School Of Hard Right Knocks, Con't

 School boards across the country are under literal assault this summer as right-wing insurrectionists are invading board meetings, blocking agendas, and stopping gatherings, all while screaming 'Who will protect little Timmy from Critical Race Theory?!?" There's no better example of this dinner theater of the damned than right here in Kentucky, too.

It took less than 30 minutes for protesters to derail a school board meeting in Kentucky's largest district, as a workshop on a strategic plan rapidly devolved into screaming matches and security kicking out several people.

Jefferson County's school board meeting Tuesday evening echoed scenes from across the nation as opponents of "critical race theory" flood school board meetings, demanding districts' stop teaching it.

Critical race theory, though, is rarely taught at the K-12 level. The academic framework appeared in a Jefferson County Public Schools guiding document for a Black studies elective, but the references were scrubbed as the theory became politicized.

Instead, opponents — including those at JCPS Tuesday — mischaracterize the term to refer to any racial equity effort schools use to improve outcomes for students of color.

A few dozen protesters gathered outside of JCPS' central office shortly before Tuesday's meeting, staging the first in-person demonstration against critical race theory in JCPS.

Most in the predominantly white crowd clutched signs opposing critical race theory: "No CRT in schools," "Kids aren't born racist." A handful of signs mentioned a far-right militia group.

A press gaggle that began with two protesters quickly grew, with a series of people cycling past the mic as members of the crowd drew near reporters.

One man told reporters CRT seeks to divide people. One woman accused JCPS of sneaking CRT into schools under the guise of "equity," even though racial equity and critical race theory are two different concepts.

The group's opposition appeared directed towards the academic framework and more towards JCPS' focus on equity — the practice of giving students what they need to be successful and close racial disparities. Instead, many in the crowd appeared to favor equality — all students getting the same, regardless of what they need.

Asked by a reporter to define critical race theory, one woman inaccurately responded: “It’s judging people strictly on the color of their skin.”

A different woman said they "do not see color of skin." She later approached a Black reporter and asked if he believed he deserved reparations.

Behind her, a woman told reporters she had visited Africa four times — likely more than most African Americans, she said.

“I am amazed by the Africans," she said.

Protesters then moved into the district's school board meeting, falsely believing JCPS was considering building critical race theory into the district's strategic plan — the first item on Tuesday's agenda.

Understand that these clowns aren't protesting actual critical race theory, they are protesting teaching kids about race at all. The people shouting I DON'T SEE RACE are going to make it illegal for anyone else to "see" it either.

Former top aides to President Donald Trump have begun an aggressive push to combat the teaching of critical race theory and capitalize on the issue politically, confident that a backlash will vault them back into power.

These officials, including Trump’s former campaign chief and two former budget advisers, have poured money and organizational muscle into the fight. They’ve aided activists who are pushing back against the concept that racism has been systemic to American society and institutions after centuries of slavery and Jim Crow. And some of them have begun working with members of Congress to bar the military from holding diversity trainings and to withhold federal funds from schools and colleges that promote anything that can be packaged as critical race theory.

The immediate goal, two Trump alumni said, is to get legislative language included in a must-pass bill. The larger one is to harness a national movement that could unseat Democrats.

“This is the Tea Party to the 10th power,” Steve Bannon, Trump’s former adviser who has zeroed in on local school board fights over critical race theory, said in an interview. “This isn’t Q, this is mainstream suburban moms — and a lot of these people aren’t Trump voters.”

Concerns about critical race theory, which examines how race and racism permeates society, have been percolating for months in what activists describe as a sincere grassroots phenomenon led by parents. Critical race theory dates back to the 1970s, but as the country remains in a prolonged conversation about race following George Floyd’s death, a new political battle over how to teach American history has emerged.

It has increasingly become a major focus of the Republican establishment, which has sought to capitalize on the angst even as some officeholders have failed to define what critical race theory is and the threat it poses. (Critical race theory, for example, does not imply white students should feel guilty about past civil rights issues and is not taught in many of the schools where lawmakers are seeking to ban it).

Their efforts to elevate the issue have worked.
Republicans don't know what CRT is, but they've mutated it into a catchall term for, as  the Louisville Courier-Journal puts it above, "any racial equity effort schools use to improve outcomes for students of color." That's what these assholes are protesting.

They want it all stopped. They want Black folk rendered second-class citizens, with second-class rights. Most of all, they want the history that shaped Black second-class status to be eliminated from schools. They don't want their kids asking questions about why things are different for us, only that it is, and that we deserve it.

This is how they get Zoomers back into the GOP, as the party of "Being white is terrific, and your generation is outnumbered, so get on the winning side now!"

If Democrats ignore this fight, they are going to lose absolutely everything.
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