We Can’t Just Pass The Popcorn…

I sat down to begin this post intending to write about what I see as an upcoming fight for the soul of the Republican Party. But then, I realized that the once “Grand Old Party” no longer has anything remotely resembling a soul.

Let’s just say that–following their less-than-stellar performance in the midterms– it looks like Republicans will  be witnessing a no-holds-barred, down and very dirty fight for the status of GOP Big Dog.

Repulsive Ron DeSantis won re-election by a big margin in Florida. The size of that margin was an unsurprising consequence of outrageous gerrymandering, “post-Ian” election regulations that made it easier to vote in overwhelmingly Republican areas but not Democratic ones, and various types of voter intimidation–including show arrests of ex-offenders  who’d been told by election officials that they could vote.

His win sets up a contest with Trump for leadership of a semi-fascist GOP.

DeSantis is evil, but far smarter and smoother than Trump, with a vocabulary that exceeds the 70 or so words Trump knows and the ability to make bigotry sound marginally less despicable. He is thus better able to mine the GOP’s culture war against uppity women, non-Christians, Black and Brown people and LGBTQ folks.

Trump, on the other hand, knows how to fight dirty.

According to press reports, in the wake of DeSantis’ win, Trump announced that he intends to reveal “damaging information about Florida Governor Ron DeSantis should he decide to challenge the former president for the Republican nomination in 2024.”

“I will tell you things about him that won’t be very flattering,” Trump told The Wall Street Journal on his private jet after departing a rally in Dayton, Ohio, on Monday. “I know more about him than anybody other than perhaps his wife, who is really running his campaign.”

“I don’t know that he’s running,” Trump reportedly said on Monday. “I think if he runs he could hurt himself very badly.

In a Fox “News” interview on Election Day, Trump also said that Senate Republicans should oust Sen. Mitch McConnell as their leader, because McConnell was “lousy” at his job, and has been “very bad for our nation.” (Well, there you go–I actually agree with something Donald Trump said! McConnell has indeed been “very bad for our nation.” Unfortunately, that’s because he is very good at what he perceives to be his job…)

A friend reacted to these initial attacks by suggesting that blackmail is, and has been, Trump’s “secret sauce.” As he traced the repeated trajectory, It goes like this: a Republican officeholder speaks out against Trump, subsequently visits him in Florida, and does a sudden U-turn.

My friend’s theory is that Trump has access to Putin’s KGB files on US Leaders. Once he threatens the recalcitrant Republican with the dirt he has, the defector is back in line. (Sure would explain “Miss Lindsay”…)

I don’t know whether there’s any factual basis for my friend’s version of a conspiracy theory, but even if the information doesn’t come from Russia, and even if Trump is simply threatening to turn his mindless troops against an opponent via accusations he invents, the one thing we do know is that he never exhibits any behavior approximating fair play or decency.

For his part, we can expect DeSantis to deploy every bit of ammunition he is able to amass against Trump…and thanks to various state-level investigations and the work of the January 6th Committee,  he’ll have access to plenty.

Watching these two repulsive egomaniacs fight for dominance will be interesting. The sixty-four thousand dollar question is: will their battle be enough to finally, fatally splinter the Republican Party?  “Professional” Republicans–elected officials, strategists, etc.–are likely to prefer DeSantas. He’s evil but not crazy. The QAnon mob is unlikely to desert Trump, who is both.

Of course, if Trump is indicted (which I expect), that will throw a wild card into the battle…

Here’s the thing:

The rest of us can’t just retire to the sidelines and watch the wrestling match while eating popcorn. We’ve just been given a reprieve, but not a decisive victory. We have to work hard between now and the 2024 election. We have to continue the battles against gerrymandering and vote suppression and we have to explain what is at stake to the sizable number of Americans who still fail to cast ballots.

Eventually, if we keep at it and are even moderately successful, today’s semi-fascist GOP will fade into history, and we will once again be able to choose between center-Right Republicans and center-left Democrats (no matter what the GOP claims, American Democrats are anything but “Left” as other countries define”Left”….)

We may be able to choose between two parties with souls.


  1. At some point we may have to concede that our divisive, adversarial, winner-take-all, binary political system is neither democratic nor an effective means of government. Let’s just hope it can be done without a second civil war.

  2. Considering Gen Z provided the votes for progressive policies and pushed the Dems to a slight internal victory, I’d say Biden needs to take his cues from the left flank, but I know that is wishful thinking.

    Nancy, Chuck, and Joe are out of touch with what is transpiring across the country. War-mongering based on American Exceptionalism is over. Spending a trillion dollars a year on over 800 military bases globally is over.

    Workers in society come first in a multi-polar world. Democracy and transparency are the keywords. Fascism and nationalism are not the solutions. Moral leadership, the way of Nelson Mandela, will be essential. Military might is out – diplomacy is in. White supremacy is out – diversity is in.

    It’s all about building an economic system that is fair for all – not winners and losers. No more hierarchies where oligarchs chose everyone. Consensus building based on programs that benefit all. If Biden can’t deliver that message, get the hell out of the way.

  3. Laurie you are absolutely correct with one caveat, the Democrats have already lost the big fight. The “semi-fascists”are anything but semi, they are full on fascists and will burn the country down if they do not win. DeSantis is much smarter than DJT and as least and maybe more evil than DJT.

  4. “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” The Goldsmith Mayoral administration was a microcosm of the Nixon administration and an early precursor to the Trump administration. It was also the beginning of the death grip the Republican party has on this state; we don’t even rate much newsworthy mention during any election but local because our outcome is a given.

    “DeSantis is evil, but far smarter and smoother than Trump,…”

    “Trump, on the other hand, knows how to fight dirty.”

    Will those Republicans who sit mute and idle in public but speak against Trump in private back DeSantis as a way to dump Trump? I believe DeSantis would be much easier for President Biden to beat in 2024. But with those strong MAGA supporters; is it what Trump stands for or Trump himself they are supporting? Who else does the “Republican” party have to run against Trump in a Primary Election? As for Trump ever being indicted for any of his High Crimes and Misdemeanors; he is doing an excellent job of slowing the Judicial system at federal and civil levels to a standstill. If he can stall them off till he is again running for president or, God help us, again be appointed to the presidency; that will again be put on the back burner as his “unindicted coconspirator” in the Mueller Report and now about 30 years of tax evasion and those 19 or more sex abuse charges which have disappeared. Face it; Trump and his cronies ARE above the law.

  5. Our recent history has been shaped in large part from a long-term plan laid out by the wealthy oligarchs (on this Todd and I are in agreement), Charles Koch and the rest, the night that O’Bama won his election in 2008. As reprehensible as it has been, it must be admitted that it has been very successful at its primary goal; to divide Americans and weaken democracy.
    That being said, the D’s need a ten-year plan, and it needs to start now. What they have been so poor at is organizing around a central theme.
    The fight between the former guy and the new guy could do us the favor of splitting the GOP. As to McConnell, I have never wished for someone to die, but I do look forward to reading his obituary.

  6. “My friend’s theory is that Trump has access to Putin’s KGB files on US Leaders. :

    Read this, and then thought of Trump’s possible criminal prosecution. Then I recalled from history what happened when another Republican Kingmaker, Indiana Klan Leader D.C. Stephenson, fell from grace . Stephenson threatened to release his “black box” on dirt he said he had collected on Indiana politicians if he was prosecuted for the rape and murder of Madge Oberholtzer. No pardon came from the Governor Ed Jackson that Stephenson had put in power and Stephenson was convicted. Turns out that Stephenson did have a black box of incriminating information on Hoosier politicians. A lot of Indiana politicians ended up going to prison based on the incriminating information Stephenson had, including Jackson.

    Would Trump keep incriminating files on Republican politicians? Absolutely. Not sure the info will be criminal in nature, but I could see a lot of salacious stuff being in the files.

  7. Thank you, Todd Smekens. If we don’t make a 180 degree turn in our thinking and actions, Mother Nature will solve these issues for us. I,for one, plan to fight for the only way humanity can survive until I have to pass the battle to others .

  8. Reiterating the evil of today’s GOP is sort of: “Yeah. So what else is new?” Remember the GOP Senator’s trip to Russia a while back? Why would they go there? It certainly wasn’t for trade negotiations. So, maybe, the conspiracy theory about Trump having dirt on Johnson, Kennedy, et.al., is valid. I don’t think anyone paying attention would be surprised if these idiots were selling us out.

    Meanwhile, here in Colorado, it looks like the egregious, drooling fool, Lauren Boebert is going to eke out a win in our district 3. The mind boggles at the low IQ voters who elected her in the first place. It sort of proves my point that people who vote for creatures like Greene and Boebert, et. al., would rather sell their mothers into slavery than vote for a Democrat…no matter that the GOP candidate will work AGAINST their best interests. Amazing.

    Yes, this is great fodder for a unified Democratic message and campaign strategy across the board. Now, if only the DNC would produce the leadership necessary to do this. How about Corey Booker or Jamie Raskin for DNC chairperson? People like them.

  9. If Donald Trump is Russia’s best agent in America, then we have little to fear. But I suspect it’s not Trump that has the info, it’s one of the weasel close to Trump that provides him the information as needed. It’s the ones in the shadows that are dangerous and still control large swaths of the GOP machine.

  10. Paul K.; politics have changed since Stephenson’s KKK ownership of the party on more than a local level. In approximately 1976 Marie Ragghianti was appointed to the Tennessee Board of Pardons and Paroles; she began discovering criminal activities within the Board and beyond into state government at all levels. When she came forward and refused to agree to a pardon for an obviously guilty felon she was fired. She was an honest person and fought the unwarranted firing; she hired Republican attorney Fred Dalton Thompson (is that name familiar to any of you?) to represent her, he won the case but that trial opened investigations deeper into more than selling pardons and paroles; it uncovered murders, armed robberies, selling convicted felons liquor licenses which was against Tennessee law. There were four murders connected to the investigation of state government and many officials, including the Governor of Tennessee, went to prison.

    There was a movie made from the Peter Maas book, “Marie, A True Story”; Fred Dalton Thompson played himself in that movie which began his career as an actor. He was Republican Tennessee U.S. Senator during the time he was acting in a few movies and a regular as the Prosecutor on “Law and Order” TV series. He left the series to make a bid for president in the 2016 election but suddenly pulled out of the race. A few months later his death was reported in the news.

    Sometimes fact truly is stranger than fiction; Fred Dalton Thompson’s political career began at a time that honest politicians would take action against dishonest politicians, even within their own party. Our sitting Republicans in Congress could learn a lesson from their once fellow Senator in recent years…the Trump years.

  11. Todd – there is no data yet on Gen Z voting this week…please use facts

    All – the media keep our eyeballs on The Duck/DeSantaclaus. Meanwhile, Bannon’s/Koch’s work at the local/state levels continues. Yes, no blue states turned red, but the rest got redder down ballot and the gerrymandering that made that happen is around for a decade. Just one example, three supreme court seats here in NC went RED.

  12. TFG may have dirt on people, and, then again, he may be bluffing. I expect DeSantis to challenge him, in
    which case we may well find out. Trump is, essentially, a schoolyard bully, and they tend to back down when
    it comes to facing a real challenge. The jackass has even openly thrown Melanoma under the Oz bus, oh, did
    I mention that yesterday?
    Laurie is right, and so is Stan, today, but he is also in pipe dream mode…not that I don’t like the pipe dream, but,
    there is this thing about the nature of pipe dreams.
    And, yes, those who can vote for Boebert need lobotomies!

  13. Has anyone else noticed that DeSantis is mimicking Trump’s mannerisms? He uses all the same hand gestures now, for example. It’s at once ludicrous and incredibly chilling. DeSantis has clearly practiced them. He has a plan. He is truly scary in a way that Trump isn’t. At least Trump has the decency to be a stupid, ignorant, lazy, incompetent psychopath.

  14. Sheila – thanks. A very mixed bag with preliminary data….

    – Didn’t match 2018 when there was less effort at organizing them
    – Still significantly lower than older voter groups
    – How bad would Florida have been without their “record” turnout?
    – They couldn’t make much difference in places like GA, NC despite “record” turnout.
    – They weren’t interested enough to register, despite, unlike 2018,
    “democracy is on the ballot”.

  15. Unfortunately, the relative Legislative strength of the two parties that we end up with is still unknown but we know that the result will be two years of someplace between a stand-off where nothing gets done and further destruction of both our economy and global standing by Republican attacks on the future that’s barreling down on us. Clearly, their agenda never varies from enhancing wealth redistribution up.

    Fortunately, Merrick Garland is still running the DOJ and Trump’s legal troubles both criminal and civil will continue to unfold. The Jan 6 final report will be published with a record of Trump’s complicity in the 2020 insurrection which unfortunately Congress will sweep under the rug.

    Perhaps we ought to all be rooting for a knockdown drag-out fight to the finish between Trump and DeSantis.

  16. Other pending worrisome news – Freedom Caucus is planning to challenge Kevin McCarthy for House leader, or try to “bribe” him to be at their will. He is not MAGA enough for them.

  17. To DeSanctimonious and tRump: “A pox on both your houses!” Isn’t it a shame that constitutions don’t have penalties for blatant unconstitutional actions?

  18. My personal greatest worry. Little or nothing will get done in the next two years. There will be lots of “fireworks” over spending, the debt limit, “investigations” – none of which will make any real difference in the lives of most Americans, especially the struggling ones. The result could easily be greater voter apathy, especially if the GOP runs one of the MAGA kings and the DEMs run Biden/Harris/Sanders/Warren or any coastal lib like Newsom.

  19. Gerrymandering is the real problem- with funding and research from the Kochs and their cadre of oligarch pals, buy-able state legislators used advanced data and tools to precisely pinpoint how to deprive democrats of representation after the 2010 census. I collected this sickening public data for a piece of art I am making.

    There are more Democrats than Republicans in North Carolina,
    but Gerrymandering gives Republicans 10 house seats and Democrats 3

    There are more Democrats than Republicans in Pennsylvania, but there
    will be 10 Republican districts and 8 Democrat-leaning districts in 2022

    More than a third of West Virginia’s population voted for Democrats in the last
    election, yet all of the state’s congressional representation remain Republican.

    Kentucky: 35% of the vote goes to Democrats, but five
    out of six representatives are Republican

    Louisiana Republicans figured out how to make Baton Rouge and New Orleans fit into one
    district. 5 RepublicanS, 1 Democrat in Congress in state with more Democrats than Republicans

    30% of Utah residents are Democrats.
    100% of Utah Reps in Congress are Republican.

    Houston, Dallas & San Antonio- carved up to rob blueTexans of represenation.
    25 Republican districts, 11 Democrat. More registered Democrats than Republicans

    Arkansas: Horseshoe shaped District 3 dilutes city voters by taking chunks out
    of deeply rural areas. 35% Democratic voters- 100% Republican representation

    Ohio: More Democrats than Republicans- 12 Republican seats, 4 Democratic seats

    Wisconsin party affiliation: Equal Democrats and Republicans
    Representatives in Congress: 5 Republicans 3 Democrats

    Armed with the ability to make new maps, the GOP created safe
    Republican districts. Michihan voters: 47% Democrat, 34% Republican.
    Representatives in Congress: 7 Republicans, 7 Democrats

    “Indiana’s House districts, redrawn by Republicans, are some of the
    worst gerrymandered in the entire country.” Voters: 42% Republican, 37% Democrats.
    Hoosier representation, 9 Republicans, 2 Democrats.

  20. Todd this sentence caught my eye–It’s all about building an economic system that is fair for all – not winners and losers–not sure if it was intentional but I really think Anand Giridharadas makes a lot of sense. I just got his book the Persuaders.

    Okay–I will agree with Paul’s comments the other day about trying being happy that we democrats were not wiped out as much as everyone was stating we would be–I was listening to Patrick Mahoney yesterday when he alluded that the media have not been helpful when they kept reporting that there will be a red wave–he wondered how many people did not come out to vote because of what the media, polls, and pundits were implying for months. The issue is that these are truly in many ways unprecedent times and all the talking heads are still using past precedence to imply outcomes. Get some new tools!

    Trump–bless him (I am now living in the South–this is said w/ tone). He has a horrific personality disorder on a scale between 1 to 10, he is at a 11 and with the media focusing more on DeSantis, grab the popcorn because Trump is really going to become unhinge–aint seen nothing yet.

    My concern is a fair number of these races should not be this close. Some of these crazies should not have been re-elected. There is something going on still in this country and we are not out of the woods and so celebrate for that second but we are not in a good place.

  21. Sorry for grammar issues—at work and I have already cussed and flipped off some people driving in Nashville traffic in the rain and working in healthcare can infuriate the best of us.

  22. A half a million ballots were dropped off in Phoenix on Tuesday because why? We need to change the narrative. Voting Ends on Election Day. Send sample ballots to every home, every election with links to the candidates platform. American voters have the most complicated voting system in the world and that’s a feature, not a bug. My state isn’t finished counting yet!

  23. Aging girl – it will be interesting to see what happens in states like AZ where this happens. As I understand it, the GOP encouraged Election Day and later voting so they could “come from behind”. Not sure that theory will work – we shall see.

  24. Aging Girl – delayed election returns are usually by design, some good, like allowing the mail extra days to deliver properly postmarked ballots, and some bad, like not touching early/absentee ballots until after the polls close.

    Lester – “districting is good for 10 years.” unless your name is Tom DeLay. Democrats could have, but didn’t respond in kind. The Dems always ask “Marquis of Queensbury rules?” while the Republicans continue their game of hand grenades.

  25. Trump may not have anything on DeSantis, but he doesn’t have to. He makes up dirt. Scurilous, baseless rumor-mongering against Paul Pelosi is only the most recent example.

    As for DeSantis, he plays dirty too. If he and Trump damage each other, it could be one of the most important public services to democracy’s survival.

  26. While Obama took advice from James Carvel and fired up the base Fox just said the people will be smarter than that and McCarthy and his ilk just thought peoples disatisfaction would be enough.
    Biden played his cards and while he may not get school loan forgiveness, so msny people rewarded him at the poles also.
    No red wave these midterms as the poles showed in theclast few days.

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