They Aren’t Even Pretending Anymore

If there was ever any doubt about the Republican approach to the 2020 elections, people like Scott Walker are dispelling them. As Talking Points Memo reported a few weeks back,  Walker, who was formerly governor of Wisconsin, currently runs a group called the National Republican Redistricting Trust. That organization is allied with the (misnamed)  “Fair Lines America,” which is suing Michigan in an effort to overturn a recently passed anti-gerrymandering referendum.

In a preview of the coming war over redistricting reform, Republican politicians and operatives in Michigan filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the state’s new, voter-approved redistricting commission.

Behind the lawsuit is Fair Lines America Foundation, which, according to the Detroit News,is affiliated with the Scott Walker-led National Republican Redistricting Trust.

The Republicans allege that the independent commission violates the Constitution’s First Amendment and its Equal Protection Clause by imposing certain requirements on who can serve on the commission. Specifically, individuals cannot serve on the 13-member commission if they, in the past six years, were partisan candidates, elected officials, political appointees, lobbyists, campaign consultants or political party officials.

There is a Yiddish word that fits this lawsuit perfectly: chutzpah. (Google it.)

Conditions like the ones imposed for serving on the Michigan commission are common in states where independent redistricting commissions are in place. The new GOP lawsuit alleges, however, that these conditions–imposed to ensure a lack of partisan bias on the part of citizens drawing district lines–are unconstitutional.

“Plaintiffs have been excluded from eligibility based on their exercise of one or more of their constitutionally protected interests,i.e., freedom of speech (e.g., by the exclusion of candidates for partisan office), right of association (e.g., by the exclusion of members of a governing body of a political party), and/or the right to petition (e.g., by the exclusion of registered lobbyists),” the lawsuit alleged.

The article predicts that the Michigan lawsuit is only the first of several that will be filed in states that have addressed the anti-democratic effects of partisan redistricting (aka gerrymandering) by establishing nonpartisan commissions.

Before Mitch McConnell and Trump succeeded in adding numerous right-wing ideologues to the federal judiciary, I wouldn’t have worried about this lawsuit. I would expect its patently ridiculous argument to be given short shrift. But given the caliber of people elevated to the federal bench (several nominees even refused to affirm that Brown v. Board of Education is good law…), all bets are off.

With the Supreme Court ruling last month that federal judges cannot rein in partisan gerrymandering, voting rights advocates will be only expanding their efforts to implement redistrict reform via independent commissions.

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the conservative majority in the case, name-checked Michigan’s ballot initiative specifically to argue that there other avenues besides the federal judiciary to address the problem of extreme gerrymanders.

How his court will handle the coming wave of lawsuits challenging those commissions remains to be seen.

It has become glaringly obvious that the GOP cannot win a national election unless it can gerrymander districts and suppress minority votes. In their desperation to keep control of the mechanisms that ensure a non-democratic result favoring Republicans, party functionaries aren’t even giving lip service to majority rule. They aren’t even pretending to care about democracy and/or the integrity of the electoral process.

The midterm elections pointed to the only available remedy: turnout so massive that cheating can’t carry the day.


  1. Walker is the ultimate Republican. Winning at ALL costs is the only consideration here. They don’t care how many laws they skirt, because there isn’t an ethical bone in their bodies. I know of NO Republicans today who are anything but ethically challenged and morally bankrupt. How do they still exist? Does this mean that around half of our citizens are all in with corruption and immorality. Hell, the evangelicals are all-in with Trump because they think he represents their “oppression”. They overlook all the hypocrisy of this morally and ethically devoid creature.

    Maybe it’s a lot like tattoos. Being a Republican seems to be all about self-indulgence, self-service, self-aggrandizement and just plain selfishness.

  2. “They aren’t even pretending….” For over two decades the majority in this country have gone along with that “pretending” in order to not face the reality of our society in decline. We did not want to see that Country Club Archie and Endless Shopping Sarah really were the selfish, greedy shits that they were. Better to pretend that their fixation on wealth accumulation and total disregard for the welfare of others was normal human behavior. Better to pretend that their dog whistle comments that later turned into full blown racist statements were “just the way they were”. Not wanting an argument, too many of us turned our backs on what we thought would just go away only to become enablers to the money addicted and democracy destroyers.
    Hillary was right when she said that there was a vast right wing conspiracy. And Khrushchev was on target when he said that Russia would bury us. And we are all complicit.

  3. Sheila, youʻre correct about the remedy being massive voter (democrats) turn-out.

    Paper ballots, too. I donʻt trust the computerized systems with all the foreign (Russia) and domestic (GOP) hackers all over the place.

  4. Our neighbors asked if we can vote from CH and we said, we will vote them out! They were very happy to hear we were not the GOP.

  5. The scariest thing that has been mentioned in today’s blog is what has been done to the courts. Before McConnell, Federal judge nominees had to have support form both senators of their state and at least 60 senators altogether (filibuster-proof). They also used to need a rating of “qualified” from the Bar Association. Now they don’t need any of that and only those from deep red states have both senators from their state. I hate to harangue, but these are LIFETIME appointments. God hep us.

  6. “The Republicans allege that the independent commission violates the Constitution’s First Amendment and its Equal Protection Clause”

    The above copied statement regarding freedom of speech is incredible, considering that the republicans have been suppressing citizens’ freedom of speech via voter suppression and gerrymandering for decades.

    For far too many years those old white men have been fighting dirty to hold on to their power. They have sold their souls to their wealthy corporate donors and they continually prove that they will stop at nothing to maintain their power and position.

  7. “The midterm elections pointed to the only available remedy: turnout so massive that cheating can’t carry the day.”

    Theresa was totally on target with her assessments of “Not wanting an argument, too many of us turned our backs on what we thought would just go away only to become enablers to the money addicted and democracy destroyers.”

    I have recently experienced what must be part of Trump’s dog whistle about the stability of this economy; this is in regard to current real estate values I am aware of in my east side area. Considering a move, I contacted the realtor who provided vital information last year regarding real estate values in the entire 46219 area to include in my property tax appeal. At that time the median low assessment was $54,000; the median high assessment was $120,000. The Treasurer’s Office lowered my suddenly increased assessment from $67,900 to the realistic $54,000 and lowered my property taxes accordingly. Property values and city maintenance of surrounding infrastructure has not improved. That same realtor I contacted a few weeks ago used on line information to assess my low to middle class house at $80,000; after walking through she increased it to $90,000. I would not cheat anyone by listing my home at that amount. A few houses west of me a house of the same size was listed for $83,000 but sold for $105,000; another home listing the realtor provided showed a home listed at $119,000 but sold for $122,000. WTF is going on and what will this sudden “upturn” do to our property taxes in the coming year? Is that property tax cap at the base of this to find money to meet the new Indiana two-year budget? Is it the Trump economy claims or the Republican state of Indiana/city of Indianapolis/county of Marion somehow pushing bidding wars on properties which will reflect well on Trump’s positive economy Tweets and rants? Where is the financing coming from for these inflated prices and what happens when the economy tanks and buyers are left with high mortgage payments in the coming recession?

    The initial increase in listing prices resulting in much higher selling prices is another example of “not even pretending anymore” in the real estate world; the highest investment people make in their lives. Does gerrymandering by local Republicans come into this equation? What is wrong with this picture…and is it going on elsewhere and to what limits?

  8. “There was little advantage in reasoning clearly, while much was to be gained from winning arguments.” From the NewYorker in an article about reasoning and confirmation bias.

    If we understand that the GOP have no sound reasoning to their arguments for gerrymandering and the appointment of foxes to guard the hen house and that their sole aim is to win at all costs, we have a true picture of the issues.

  9. JoAnn,

    I am glad to hear that you appealed your property tax amount and won.

    After reading your comment this morning I am a little confused about what you are referring to as assessments and list prices. You may already be aware of this but, if not, please know that property assessments of homes for taxing purposes are always below the actual market value. So, if you decide to put your house on the market, by all means list it at a higher price that reflects what buyers will actually pay. You would not be cheating anyone other than yourself if you list it at a lower price. I urge you to follow your realtor’s advice about list price.

  10. Vernon writes, “Being a Republican seems to be all about self-indulgence, self-service, self-aggrandizement and just plain selfishness.”

    Guess who’s funding the majority of dollars to fight the independent districting in Michigan?

    The Michigan Chamber of Commerce – local businesses in the state. The corporate donors are protected so we don’t know if the Koch’s or DeVos’s are major funders or not. There is also a group called FairLines which is funded at the national level — again we don’t who the donors are so we’ll just have to go with the corporate world.

    Capitalists are funding the unethical, selfish GOP operations. Makes you wonder what happened to unions in this country and the loss of wages and benefits for workers. Who has been invited to the Koch brothers ALEC — American businesses along with state legislators.

    Is it any wonder workers are losing the battle with corporate bosses. Capitalists are funding racism, the war against our climate, the war against universal healthcare, and the war against Bernie Sanders and the left who want to change the system to favor workers, or at least put the workers back on an even scale. The DNC is no better than the GOP in that regard as their entire role is to block the left and keep Wall Street happy.

    Sheila cries for “massive democrat voter turnout”. We got that in 2008, won the presidency, won congress, YET still lost. Wall Street won again.

    Do you ever get the impression that its heads you lose, tails you lose?

    Just winning isn’t enough…we MUST win with reformers. Period.

  11. NoDak is a waste of,time,its all gerrymandered by minds….its farm community just got hit again in a order allowing 21 small refineries to ignore the ethanol rule,and make the fuel readily available with out ethanol blended, this is also some assets owned by exxon,mobil. where trump has made hats,in green and yellow.(aka,john deere) make farmers great again,,,where?in bankruptcy. now another blow to farm income..when the median age of farmers is 64, and banks will not,give loans to farming startups, the only recourse is they,the farms, become so big,they become corp,or the land goes for auction,and its amassed,so corp intrests get what they,land=trump..

  12. Todd, excellent comments. Kamala Harris, who gained her bit of fame trashing Corporate Joe Biden., will not be attending told CNN Harris would not attend the network’s September 4 climate forum, citing previous commitments—big dollar California fundraisers.

    Harris was the only candidate of the nine who reached the threshold to participate in the forum to decline the invitation, a decision that was sharply criticized by climate advocates.

    On Sunday night, as Bloomberg reported, Harris attended a big money fundraiser in the Hamptons, telling the superrich attendees “I believe in capitalism” and that she wasn’t “comfortable” with a comprehensive Medicare for All plan.

    I am always suspicious of Democratic Candidates who end up in the Hamptons asking for campaign donations.

    So, Corporate America and the 1% can use the GOP as a “front group” to make certain that districts are kept in corporate friendly GOP hands. At the same time they can use the non-progressive Democrats as “front group” also and then it is heads you lose, tails you lose.

  13. Nancy; thanks, I do know the difference between tax assessment and sale price. The point is that my house is NOT worth $80,000 or $90,000 and why are people paying more than list price for middle class homes. Did Trump’s “tax reform” actually raise middle income levels on paychecks to pay these amounts in an area sitting in the shadow of Raytheon and a completely surrounding area sorely in need of infrastructure repair and replacement? This is a post-Korean war development from the mid-1950s if you are old enough to remember when they sprang up everywhere. My bottom line is always value vs. cost; I wouldn’t pay more than $65,000 for my home if that tells you something.

  14. The Supreme Court via Roberts led the way for Walker Republican front groups to oppose what in reality is majority rule, one of the bulwarks of democracy, Athenian or otherwise, and since fascism and democracy are oil and water, one could argue that Republicans are demonstrating their fascist wares under the guise of mere political opposition. I note with interest that Roberts dusted off the old “Separation of Powers” argument for use in the court’s recent opinion, i.e., that it would violate such doctrine for the court to interfere with political decisions. Trouble is, it is the court that decides what is “political”, which I note may well be a political decision in and of itself in the present atmosphere of struggle for power. I also note that the court often does not seem to find a Separation issue in finding what is advantageous to its benefactors, i.e., the Republican Party.

    Perhaps we need more justices on the court. Nine is not writ in stone, the Constitution does not forbid it, and we have added justices before. Perhaps with such an addition we can come to definition of “Separation” and “political” and write them in stone. We can lose our democracy in other ways than by suffering conquest; we can lose it by judicial definition and/or redefinition, leadership by wannabe dictators like Trump, citizens’ neglect to nurture and strengthen such system etc.

    I know this is a worn phrase, but the 2020 election is truly the most important election of our respective lifetimes. Perhaps existential.

  15. JoAnn,
    People may be eagerly buying homes in your neighborhood at inflated prices because they are unable to afford homes in better neighborhoods, yet still want to be home owners and have to start somewhere. If homes are selling for more than list prices there is currently a high demand for homes in the area or homes within a certain price range or both. Price inflation for homes elsewhere may be pushing buyers into your neighborhood.

  16. To be freedom at all it must be freedom for all. Anything else is power specifically meant to confer disproportionate influence on some people and ideas. Where it leads is totalitarianism. It’s the opposite of democracy, it is the opposite of freedom.

    Any yet it infects and is spreading through the original liberal democracy experiment which I and many others always thought was immune to it by design.

    “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” and yet a significant percentage of the free people of the world are actively abandoning their freedom to pursue power. This does does not happen spontaneously.

    While there are many suspects in many ways I suspect that here what’s behind the movement to power is greed. Make more money now regardless of the impact on any others ever. That translates into, when you run out of ways to make more money by appealing to consumers more than your competition power confers an addition set of means.

    The economy has abandoned the original ideas of Adam Smith and adopted the plans of all of the notable dictators in history whose primary motivation was wealth redistribution.

    Can democracy repel the invasion? Stay tuned.

  17. Caveat emptor!

    Nancy; I have no doubt every word you said is true, you gave a perfect description of Trump’s phony thriving economy which is so safe from recession that he is considering another paycheck tax cut. If I screw over someone by selling my house for $90,000; there is someone out there waiting to screw me. At age 82, I’m too old to get back in that game. When it is a “seller’s market” it definitely is NOT a “buyer’s market”. And again; how much does this sudden real estate action work into Republican gerrymandering, especially in my Trump infested neighborhood. I am sure the Republican party is well aware of the voter’s support from this area…without maintaining or repairing the infrastructure or citing local businesses – or homeowners – for not maintaining their property according to zoning requirements. They don’t have to bother putting money into these areas when they are already assured of the vote.

    “They Aren’t Even Pretending Anymore”…there is no need.

  18. Here’s hoping Democrat reformers get their hands on enough power to fix a number of problems we read about in this blog. But first, I guess, we have to admit that power is okay when it’s in our hands.

    There is a tiny truth to “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”, but there is a lot of truth to: “Power gets things done and absolute power gets things done quickly.

    If we believe in that hexadecaroon truth and are so afraid of corruption that we can permit no power, then we must be satisfied that nothing gets done. Which seems to be the situation government has gotten itself into in the last thirty years–so distrustful of power that we prefer nothing gets done and that problems fester.

    I wish we, who seem compelled to borrow language from outside sources, who seem convinced that oft-used quotes must be truthful, and who seem to believe that academic discourse does not exist without quoting someone, would at least stop using quotes to give power a bad name. Stop contributing to the anti-power propaganda, which by definition is the anti-solutions-of-any-kind propaganda.

    And I wish we could stop thinking in wishful hallucinations like thinking that things get done without the possession and use of power.

  19. Walker and Gerrymandering may prove to be only the tip of the iceberg. Given the Republican zero-sum approach to nearly all issues and the party’s moral position on the rule of law and cruelty and insults and truth, even more vile moves are likely to lie just around the corner.

    Trump has proven that the presidency can be monetized to recoup whatever sums are necessary to obtain it. While this notion may be the product of my advanced case of Trump Derangement Syndrome, it is worth considering the one move Trump and his criminal co-conspirators can take to assure victory. Since buying congressmen has become fashionable and the price reasonable, is it far out to consider Republicans buying electors (members of the electoral college)? Five or ten million dollars each could sway a lot of electors to vote against their state’s choice. Any number of billionaire contributors could be found to finance the purchase, with assurances that they will be repaid out of the U.S. Treasury. If the election is close, that could be a mere handful of electors – say a few hundred million dollars – just enough to throw the final step to the joint session of Congress that makes the ultimate choice. That’s a bargain to control a $20 trillion economy.

    Even knowing that it was corrupt, would the Supreme Court rule against such a usurpation of the election process? That is by no means certain. Would the losers (presumably Congressional Democrats) find a way to block the inauguration of the criminally elected president? So far they’ve shown little aptitude for such tactics. Would the people rise up to impede such a coup? Maybe, until they remembered that Republicans own most of the guns.

    That process would effectively end democracy in the United States. There is little evidence, however, that Republicans would be troubled by such an outcome. It’s about the power, and the money, and the racism, and the ability to dictate the terms of the economy. Forty-five percent of Americans believe that the most corrupt president ever is doing a fine job. Would they object to watching our experiment in governance by the people tossed into the trash bin of history?

    Yes, this scenario is admittedly extreme. Now please name something that the Trump administration has done that is not described by that adjective.

  20. Terry Munson; that’s an astute point, and point doesn’t do it justice. I suspect the buying of electors has been done before. Your suggested price range, in fact, is within the easy reach of several tycoons, each of whom could afford the $100 million (or more) out of their own mistress-fund.

  21. Although not on point to this discussion, wanted to mention a different situation and hear what insight your readers might have. Yesterday I received a letter in the mail supposedly from Melania Trump. It is a request for support for her husband and a request for a donation. It is the second such letter and request I’ve received under her name. The last one also had a questionnaire in it. I threw it out. I have been a life-long registered Democrat. Don’t have a clue why my name and address ended up on a Republican supporter list. While I expect to occasionally get a Republican soliciting e-mail as they blanket send to business & commercial lists, I am put off getting one in the regular U.S. mail specifically addressed to me by name an address. Guess not responding doesn’t shut this business off. One friend suggested I should screw things up by responding to their requests in a negative manner. Any suggestions?

  22. Would it be inappropriate for me to use this moment to announce my candidacy for one of Indiana’s elector spots? A $10 million bribe sounds useful to me.

    Come to think of it…

    An elector who is, say, a mere 21-years-old, could pocket a $10 million bribe each presidential election for forty years, sock it away drawing interest, and when the young entrepreneur is 61, he or she could afford to bribe enough electors to become president. What a country!!!!!!

  23. A.J. – The Democrat party chairperson in my county received the same letter you mentioned. He was shocked.

    My suggestion would be to fill out their questionnaire by letting them know exactly what you think about the Rs. Since it most likely contains multiple choice answers that are all positive towards trump and the R positions on legislation you will need to write your answers in whatever space you can find.
    If the postage is not prepaid that is even better. Return it without postage so that they will be billed for it.

    A few years back I would receive R party mailings that included questionnaires loaded with choices of answers that were bogus. They only included choices for answers that supported their positions on legislation. After receiving two that I returned to them that were filled with written responses with MY positions on the topics and my thoughts about their devious ways, the mailers stopped.

    It has s worth a try.

  24. Having watched DJT speak on TV ‘way too often, I have observed that he makes some sort of rambling statement then repeats the same notion twice more during that same rambling statement. Now who’s ‘mentally ill’?

  25. They’ve spent 40 years engineering One-Party Rule (fascism) and they’ll do ANYTHING to protect and preserve it – the Constitution be damned !!!!

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