Sunday, November 7, 2021

Last Call For Sour Virginia, Con't

Yes, white rural voters in Virginia turned out and voted for Republicans out of white grievance identity politics, and they freely admit doing it and say they will do it again in 2022.

The rural share of the vote in America has been steadily shrinking, but remains sizable enough to be politically potent. National exit polling in 2020 estimated that one in five voters lived in rural or small-town America. The Democratic data firm TargetSmart, which categorized voters based on population density, labeled 30 percent of the electorate as rural.

But while some Democratic politicians now recognize the scope of their rural problem, the words of voters in Bath County expose the difficulty in finding solutions. In interviews with a dozen white, rural voters who backed Mr. Youngkin, policy was less important than grievance and their own identity politics. And the voters, fueled by a conservative media bubble that speaks in apocalyptic terms, were convinced that America had been brought to the brink by a litany of social movements that had gone too far.

A monument to Confederate soldiers stands next to the sheriff’s office in Hot Springs, a visual representation of the cultural gap between its residents and the Democratic base. The town is accessible only by a two-lane highway that winds through mountains near the West Virginia border. It’s best known for The Homestead, a luxury resort founded in the late 1800s that has hosted golf tournaments, conferences for the United Nations and presidents, including William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt.

Ms. Neff, who owns a hardware store adorned with images of Mr. Trump as Rambo and the Terminator, was in Washington on Jan. 6 to support the former president — but refused to go into further detail. Citing false evidence, she called the coronavirus vaccine a “poison” and said she worried that Democrats were planning extermination camps of Mr. Trump’s supporters.

Karen Williams, a Bath County resident who manages vacation rentals, said she resented the current Virginia governor, Ralph Northam, a Democrat, for keeping schools shut down during the pandemic, embracing progressive policies focused on race and removing Confederate statues and monuments. She called this an example of critical race theory, a graduate-level academic framework that has become shorthand for a contentious debate on how to teach race and racism in schools.

White children “are no longer allowed to be kids, we’re treating them like little monsters,” Ms. Williams said.

Mr. Hamilton, a veteran of the Vietnam War, said his vote for Mr. Youngkin was really a proxy vote for Mr. Trump. Of President Biden, he said, “the best thing that can happen is to get him and that woman out of there.”

John Wright, a 68-year-old retiree, said he listened only to pro-Trump programming.

“I don’t care if the media said the moon was full of cheese, and there was an astronaut who brought back some cheese,” Mr. Wright said. “If the media said it, I won’t believe it.”

Some of these voters are simply out of reach for Democrats, incompatible with the party’s embrace of Black Lives Matter, transgender rights and #MeToo.

But the politically urgent problem for Democrats is that rural America has moved faster and further from them in the last 20 years than urban America has moved away from Republicans. From 1999 to 2019, cities swung 14 percentage points toward the Democrats, according to a 2020 Pew Research Center report. At the same time, rural areas shifted by 19 percentage points toward the Republicans. The suburbs remained essentially tied.

Amanda Litman, the executive director of Run for Something, which looks for Democrats to run for local offices nationwide, said it could be challenging to recruit candidates in deep red small towns — and to lure money into what are most likely losing causes.

“We just have to try and lose by less,” she said. “And ‘investing to lose by less’ is not a fun sell to Democratic donors. But it is what it is.”
Those Democrats who do run in conservative territory often distance themselves from the national party brand. When Monica Tranel, a Democrat, kicked off her bid for Montana’s new congressional seat over the summer, she lamented how few of the people she grew up with still vote Democratic. “They feel like Democrats look down on rural America,” she said in her campaign launch video.

Ben Tribbett, a Democratic strategist in Virginia, has watched his party’s vote share in rural areas wither for three decades.

“I don’t know what our message is there,” Mr. Tribbett said. “Which is a problem, because I’m supposed to be creating content for political campaigns.
The good news is that the Biden era is showing quite clearly that Democrats have finally realized that the best they can do in America's rural counties is triage. White voters in rural areas have been inundated with right-wing disinformation for decades, and fixing the problem will also take decades, decades that the country doesn't have judging by the near-coup by Trump in 2020. You can't sell your policies to people who think you are literally trying to round them up in camps to kill them. The time to get serious about fighting right-wing propaganda and disinformation was a quarter-century ago.

That ship has sailed, folks. All we can do now is to try to stop the hemorrhaging.

Fixing bridges and roads and schools and providing good jobs in the cities and suburbs doesn't matter in the quarter of the country's population that is rural. The hard reality is in states with 75% or more white votes, losing white voters by 2 to 1 means there's no way you can win. Some triage is necessary, but the GOP knows that if they can keep the electorate white and win white voters, it doesn't matter what Black folk like me in a red state want. We literally do not matter politically anymore, and they know it.

If Democrats are going to lose these areas by 50 points, the best they can do is try to only lose them by 40 and accept that. They're not going to listen. We're dealing with people lost to the Years of Trump and Rage, parading around their vaccine refusal, ripping people's masks off and spitting in people's faces to try to infect them, screaming bloody murder at restaurant servers and checkout cashiers, disrupting school board and city council meetings, and running over protesters with their vehicles.
We still need to provide folks out here with better infrastructure. Better roads, schools, bridges, broadband internet access, water, clean air. They're Americans too and we took a big step towards that over the weekend.

But we have to try to save the rest of us too. There are people who will never vote for the Democratic party, and at this point, it's time to try to turn out the people you have some chance with instead of chasing the zero percent rage junkies. We have to because if we don't, the alternative is near-permanent GOP authoritarian rule.

Democrats needs to continue to make policies to help everyone, but don't expect some of them to vote for you. There's nothing you can do at this point other than turning out people who will listen and to give them a reason to show up.

And those folks don't live in places like Bath County, Virginia.

Finally, the real lesson here is that Trumpism without Trump is now far more dangerous in 2021 than Trumpism with Trump in 2020. Dems need to counter with actions, with turnout, and with going after the right-wing noise machine that made all this possible.

Or it will be too late for us in only a few short years.

The Vax Of Life, Con't

Republican Attorneys General have found the judges they need in the Fifth Circuit for a stay of the Biden administration's vaccine mandate for employers, and the honest truth was that the OSHA rules were always headed for the US Supreme Court.
A U.S. federal appeals court issued a stay Saturday freezing the Biden administration's efforts to require workers at U.S. companies with at least 100 employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 or be tested weekly, citing "grave statutory and constitutional" issues with the rule.

The ruling from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit comes after numerous Republican-led states filed legal challenges against the new rule, which is set to take effect on Jan 4.

In a statement, Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda said the Labor Department was "confident in its legal authority" to issue the rule, which will be enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

"The Occupational Safety and Health Act explicitly gives OSHA the authority to act quickly in an emergency where the agency finds that workers are subjected to a grave danger and a new standard is necessary to protect them," she said. "We are fully prepared to defend this standard in court.”

An average of about 1,100 Americans are dying daily from COVID-19, most of them unvaccinated. COVID-19 has killed roughly 750,000 people in the United States.

The stay comes two days after the Biden administration unveiled the rule, which was immediately met with vows of legal action from Republican governors and others, who argued it overstepped the administration's legal authority. read more

The action on the private-sector vaccinations was taken under OSHA's emergency authority over workplace safety, officials said. The rule applies to 84.2 million workers at 1.9 million private-sector employers, according to OSHA.

The administration's various vaccine rules cover 100 million employees, about two-thirds of the U.S. workforce, according to the White House.

Saturday's court order came in response to a joint petition from several businesses, advocacy groups, and the states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Utah. The rule is also facing separate legal challenges before other courts. read more
So yes, the stay was guaranteed, and now the legal battle begin over whether or not OSHA has the authority to even exist, let alone issue vaccine mandates.
As I've mentioned before, there may very well be five or six Supreme Court votes to dismantle most executive agencies as unconstitutional

Stay tuned.

Sunday Long Read: The Butcher Of Havana

This week's Sunday Long Read is The Atavist's profile of Herman Marks, Castro's number one "troubleshooter" who usually solved Castro's problems with, well, shooting it. Tony Perrottet gives us Marks's history as both a revolutionary from Milwaukee and his role as a Supreme Court test case with his prosecution by the US over his stripped citizenship in 1961.

On the balmy night of April 9, 1959, a little over three months after Fidel Castro and Che Guevara seized power in Cuba, a group of famous international writers gathered in El Floridita, a popular restaurant in Old Havana. They were an urbane set—Tennessee Williams, George Plimpton, Elaine Dundy, and her husband, Kenneth Tynan—and they were expecting to carouse with Cuba’s most beloved yanqui, Ernest Hemingway. Instead, they encountered another Midwestern expatriate, wearing a wide military belt and a hulking .45 service revolver.

Burly and tattooed, the man had rough-hewn good looks. He was in his late thirties—more than two decades younger than Hemingway—and stood five-foot-ten, with thick brown hair and, in the words of his draft card, a “ruddy” complexion. An English journalist later described him as “tall, straight and meanly friendly,” with striking blue eyes that, “yellowing after only a few beers, suggested company dangerous to keep when drunk.” The American’s words tumbled out in the distinctively nasal accent of someone from blue-collar Milwaukee. He pronounced “that” as “dat” and dropped his g’s. He was the uneducated son of Polish immigrants, the type of man one of Williams’s own fictional snobs might have called a redneck.

But if his origins were humble, at El Floridita the man needed no introduction. His image had appeared on the front pages of newspapers across the United States. In fact, after Hemingway, he was probably the most notorious American in the Caribbean. His name was Herman Marks, and he had risen through the ranks of Castro’s rebel army to command the revolution’s firing squads. Around Havana, there were rumors that he had a sadistic streak; his version of a coup de grâce, it was said, was to empty his pistol into a condemned man’s face, so relatives could not recognize the corpse. Marks’s brutal work had earned him a nickname: He was El Carnicero—the Butcher.

The literati peppered him with questions, and Marks responded with pride. He boasted of being second-in-command to Che himself at La Cabaña prison, and declared that he was so busy, he conducted nightly executions until 2 a.m., and sometimes until dawn. He called the proceedings “festivities” and showed off his cuff links made from spent bullet shells.

Marks knew what the gathered writers were really after. It was an open secret in Havana that he invited select visitors to the executions, which were conducted in the empty stone moat around La Cabaña, beneath a giant floodlit statue of Christ with outstretched arms. American politicians, journalists, starlets, and socialites had all made discreet inquiries about watching a firing squad do its work. Williams, whose grandfather had been a minister, forlornly felt that he might comfort a condemned man by offering “a small encouraging smile” before he was shot.

On this particular night, Marks told the group at El Floridita, he had a busy schedule. The prisoners awaiting execution included a German mercenary. “He made the invitation as easily as he might have offered a round of cocktails at his home,” Plimpton later recalled. Marks counted the visitors out: “Let’s see… five of you… quite easy… we’ll drive over by car… tight squeeze…”

Unnoticed by the others, Tynan had been listening to Marks with growing horror, and now the Englishman leapt to his feet and began shouting. According to Plimpton, the red-faced theater critic squinted his eyes and flapped his arms like an enormous bird while denouncing Marks. He didn’t want to be in the same room as an executioner, Tynan gasped, let alone witness his handiwork. He would attend the execution only to run in front of the firing squad to protect the condemned. Tynan then stormed out of the bar, followed by Dundy.

“What the hell was that?” asked Marks. He told the remaining writers to meet him in the lobby of a nearby hotel at 8 p.m.
 Marks' story is not one I had read before, and it's an amazing journey that's worth your time. The legal questions of American citizenship that his case brought up exist to this day.

So do the problems in Cuba.

Related Posts with Thumbnails