It Isn’t Just The Crackpot Caucus…

In one of those daily multiple fundraising emails that fill our inboxes, Adam Schiff coined a perfect phrase. Referring to the numerous GOP nominees who are proponents of the “Big Lie” and various other conspiracy theories, he warned that many of them are poised to join “performance artists” like Marjorie Taylor Greene in the “Crackpot Caucus.”

Schiff’s point was that the growing presence of crackpots in Congress has diminished the ability of the federal legislature to do the necessary–albeit less entertaining– work of governance.

He’s right–but our current problems go far beyond the crackpots. People like Greene are embarrassments, but by and large, they are too incompetent–and too busy mugging for the cameras–to devise or pass legislation. They can and do “gum up the works,” but  getting bills passed is evidently beyond them.

America’s most serious problem right now resides in other branches of government: in courts packed with partisan Trumpian know-nothings, and state administrations headed by dangerous and ambitious governors. One of the most dangerous of those governors is  Trump wanna-be Ron DeSantis of Florida.

I generally try not to label unpleasant and unprincipled people “evil,” but that word does come to mind when thinking about DeSantis. His assaults on LGBTQ citizens and public school teachers,  and his persistent efforts to suppress the votes of those likely to vote Democrat are egregious–and unsettlingly effective.

DeSantis most recent attack on voting rights really does merit the “evil” label.

As the Brennan Center explains:

In 2020, Gov. Ron DeSantis bragged that Florida’s elections were the “gold standard.” That was an exaggeration, but he was right in one sense: the elections there, as in the rest of the country, were secure and not marred by fraud.

That left DeSantis with a dilemma in his shadow race against Donald Trump for the GOP presidential nomination. How to prove that he, too, could recklessly undermine democracy? His answer was an election crimes police squad, announced last year to great fanfare.Did it discover Italian spy satellites switching votes? Dominion machines using ballots made in China? Bushels of ballots?

No — it discovered voters caught in the act of voting.

Rather than identifying some shadowy network of deep state operatives, state election police have found a tiny handful of people, many of whom were themselves victims of government incompetence.

Here’s the story:

As many of you probably read at the time,  in 2018, by a very substantial margin, Florida voters amended the state’s Constitution. They ended a  felony disenfranchisement system that had been characterized as a notorious remnant of Jim Crow. That system  barred people who had a felony conviction from voting for the rest of  their lives. The system had kept 1.7 million otherwise eligible people from voting.

Then the Florida Legislature stepped in. It undermined the law, requiring citizens who had just had their rights restored to pay off fines and fees before voting.

The Brennan Center sued, warning that the new requirement would lead to chaos, because the state provided no way for people to check to see if they had unpaid fees and so were eligible to vote.

The experience of Kelvin Bolton illustrates the consequences.

In 2018, after Floridians overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative to restore voting rights to most people with past convictions, the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections sent officials to county jail to help inmates register for the next election. Kelvin Bolton proudly signed up along with other people in exactly the same situation. According to Bolton, the officials failed to tell him about the requirement that he pay outstanding fines and fees.

Even if Bolton had known, there was very little he could have done. There is no centralized database you can use, no number you can call, to find out whether there are outstanding fees. Here’s an indication of how maddening the process is: When the Brennan Center was developing a resource for people attempting to restore their voting rights, we quickly determined that it had to be aimed at lawyers. No layperson could reliably navigate this Kafkaesque labyrinth. And yet, DeSantis and his election police apparently take the position that formerly incarcerated Floridians vote at their own risk.

Under DeSantis,  Florida adamantly refuses to help these ex-offenders. The state  allows people with felony convictions to register, then prosecutes them if it finds outstanding court debts.

Worse, Florida once again imprisons people –at considerable taxpayer expense– who were only attempting to cast a vote, a practice  that intimidates and deters eligible voters who fear that the election police will come for them, too.

“All in the name of proving that there is in fact fraud happening, to give credibility to those who have staked their political careers on its existence.”

Florida under DeSantis: Even worse than the crackpot caucus.


  1. The trump- DeSantis-Cruz – MTG/Boebert cult the Klown-Kar Kaucus. The 3 k s are intentional……

  2. It’s incredible how these klowns come together to vote for significant military and oligarchy funding. It’s usually unanimous.

    They “set aside their differences” and pass bills that increase the wealth of the 1%, who also happens to be the political donor class.

    The klowns bring lots of eyeballs to the entertainment media, which sells targeted ads. Isn’t that their purpose?

    It’s all performative at the congressional level. Well, at all levels…they are all facing an exciting task this week with a potential railroad strike looming. The workers aren’t buying what the unions are selling. Lots of Democrats get greased by Warren Buffett and the unions. Therefore, any actions taken should be scrutinized as conflicts of interest loom everywhere.

    Lastly, my little county has no Trump-appointed judges, but they’re all corrupt.

  3. DeSantis’ attacks on those felons for mistakenly voting thinking they were eligible was purely performative. He wanted to get headlines for “election integrity.” But saying its purpose was “voter suppression” is a reach. It will only affect a tiny fraction of the vote. Plus, I don’t know why one would presume those felons affected are likely Democratic voters. I don’t know the partisan makeup of the Florida felony population. However, I do know that Palm Beach County seems to attract a lot of felony-committing Republicans.

  4. Paul: You must not have had your morning coffee! Felony convictions are disproportionately hung on minority populations, who probably live in democratic areas of the state (urban). The point of the new law is not to catch the few who vote but rather to scare off more people who don’t know if they are eligible or ineligible to vote – or who just don’t want to be entangled at any level of the justice system again. One just needs 2-3% of an urban area to stay home to have a HUGE impact on statewide races. Voter suppression is always the goal.

  5. A better example of why “evil” is an appropriate label for Governor DeSantis is the fact that he objected strongly, to the point of prohibiting school children (who were of the right age) from getting the covid vaccines.

  6. I live in Florida over the winter. You don’t want DeSantis any higher in politics than where he is now. Another disaster in the making. Better yet, defeat him wherever he goes.

  7. I think the time has come for me to point out that actual cases of voter fraud were found in Florida. In an area called “the Villages” (about 99% Republican), two voters were found to have voted both in Florida and in their home states. Since they are Republican, they got probation.

    I’m hoping that the twenty ex-felons who were arrested by the vote police get better judges than Judge Cannon. If any of them are local, though I fear the results won’t be pretty. I spent two days on Jury Duty and it impressed upon me the need for judges who know the law and prosecutors who think maybe we shouldn’t throw the book at all of the accused, just because we can.

  8. The mantra used by the ‘T’ portion of the republican party, “Stop the Steal” might be co-opted by the democrats… Yes, there are attempts to steal elections and we saw it live and in color on January 6, 2021.
    ‘T’ continues trying to ‘steal’ the election as he ‘fires up his base’ with the mantra.
    We might consider doing what the republicans are so good at…taking a term or phrase, weaponizing it and using it against them.
    Yes, we need to ‘stop the steal’ and those who are attempting to do so.

  9. At the same time, three denizens of The Villages voted more than once – for Trump of course – and got off with a slap on the wrist and a few hours of Community Service.

  10. My Aunt and Uncle moved to the Villages and lived there for a few years and moved back to Metro-East St. Louis area because the could not stand what they were hearing down there and the racism they were experiencing when my cousin would visit w/ her adoptive son.

  11. Evil? Clown? Incompetent? Cheating? Lying? Corrupt? All these adjectives apply to Republicans everywhere. From Nunes in California to DeSantis in Florida… These turkeys are all bad for the people of the United States and the world. But who elects them? Oh. Right. “We the People”, that’s who.

    Educating the masses as to what they actually stand for and who they want representing them is as important – maybe more so – as calling these evil-doers out and exposing their evil for all to see. We’d better do this while we still have a Constitution and the freedom of speech.

  12. DeSantis has been a much better Governor than Democratic Party Governor Andrew Cuomo. I’m not aware of DeSantis allowing the flagrant killing of nursing home patients as did Democratic Party stalwart Andrew Cuomo. Hey,who cares? Those patients were probably on the low rung of the meritocracy. I wonder if Cuomo’s method of eugenics will prevail for the rest of the country if Democrats receive more votes and power?

    Anyone remember Covid?

    Go DeSantis!

  13. I am currently reading a history of the Reformation — and, of course, the counter-reformation.

    Religious issues and struggles for political power intermixed. A different time (mid 1500s to mid 1600s), a bunch of different issues, but human nature has not changed.

    Commenting on attacks from one side against the other, the author states “slickness and abusiveness betrayed a sense of insecurity.”

    I immediately thought of Sarah Palin. DeSantis also illustrates this weakness.

    (Reference: Owen Chadwick, The Reformation, p. 305)

  14. Living here, in Florididia, and being besieged by DeathSantis’ TV ads, (Happy, happy, mute button!) is not fun.
    The man is a total fascist, claiming that Florida is the “Freest state,” when what one is free to do here is to live by
    his awful edicts. I do not know whether his “anti-anything human,” pro-twisted biblical BS is native to him, or
    just his politically savvy BS.
    He got elected only by 32,000 votes +/_, and that was only because of Florida’s long history of voter suppression.
    But, he must have taken Demagoguery 101 somewhere, and is applying the lessons.

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