CMR, Elections, Covid

Unless your only sources of news are Rush Limbaugh, the evening commentators on Fox, or any number of syndicated, right wing, often Evangelical “Christian” AM and FM radio stations, you know by now that, absent an armed rebellion, Joe Biden won the popular vote and will prevail in the Electoral College. 

Much of the country breathed a sigh of relief that the process of the elections themselves went very well. There were no bombings or shootings or reports of gross, wide-spread voter intimidation. Secretaries of State (the folks who oversee the logistics and conduct of elections in the states), including notable Republican Secretaries of State, likes the State of Washington’s SOS Kim Wyman (R) and Georgia’s SOS Brad Raffensperger, have stood up to defend the accuracy and integrity of state elections processes. 

Mr. Trump and much of the rest of the Republican Party continue to shamble along like the undead in a horror movie with a long-nurtured plan to contest the results of the election as illegal and illegitimate. It is frightening to contemplate that if the results had been closer in more states this tactic that might have worked, throwing the whole electoral process into question and chaos worse than the drama in Florida in 2000. That disgraceful episode handed George W. Bush an Electoral College victory in spite of garnering a minority of the countrywide popular vote. This time, instead, at least for those Americans who actually pay attention to the details of how voting works, Trump’s and the Republican Party’s lockstep efforts to discredit the election results look like a pathetic, unAmerican power grab, a power grab that threatens the fabric of our country. (For an excellent overview of the tactics of today’s Republican Party I suggest Fintan O’Toole’s Democracy’s Afterlife, free to read in the December 3 issue of the New York Review.) 

How do the three Republican Representatives from Washington State to the U.S. House of Representatives stand on their Party’s gross attempt to undermine American’s faith in the electoral process? The quotations that follow come from a November 10th article in the Spokesman.

GOP Rep. Dan Newhouse, representing Central Washington, said he wants to see the Trump campaign’s lawsuits work their way through the courts to give voters confidence in the outcome, but said, “That doesn’t mean that I believe there was illegal activity in any state.”

“Unless you’ve got hard evidence, accusations like that are not well-founded,” Newhouse said in an interview Saturday. “And that’s why I think a legal challenge is OK and reasonable, but to come to that conclusion before the results of any kind of recount or investigation, I think, probably does diminish the confidence the American people have in our system. And so, if I were president, I would be very, very cautious about making that kind of a statement.”

Those sound like the words of what we used to call a statesman, a person dedicated to how our country is supposed to function, the way we were taught in school.

GOP Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of southwest Washington [protege of CMR] echoed Newhouse’s sentiment.

“We have not seen the evidence that would change the outcome in the several states needed to overturn the results of the election, but like all Americans the president has the right to press his claims in court,” Herrera Beutler said. “There are millions of Americans who support the president, and the public will ultimately have more confidence in our election system if the vote count and legal process is allowed to reach its conclusion.”

Then there is Cathy McMorris Rodgers, “our” U.S. Rep and grandame of the three (in office for 16 years, Newhouse 6 years, Beutler 10 years):

A spokesman for Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said the Eastern Washington Republican supported the president’s stance.

“Cathy believes that every legal vote should be counted and that President Trump has every right to seek legal recourse in response to allegations of voter fraud and impropriety,” spokesman Jared Powell said in a statement. “She believes integrity and transparency in the election process is foundational to American democracy.”This is a gradation of opinion with McMorris Rodgers most adherent to the Republican narrative. She’s a follower. Her spokesperson conveniently avoids commenting on the content and validity of the “allegations” or consideration of the near zero likelihood of the allegations making a difference in the final outcome. She and her office must never question the Trump Party line. (For a particularly egregious example of the feebleness and disingenuity of the Republican claims read Michigan Republicans Backtrack After Refusing to Certify Election Results.)

For me there is nothing surprising in the statement from McMorris Rodgers’ spokesperson. In 2017 at a “Coffee with Cathy,” McMorris Rodgers invoked the supposed evil of George Soros (as financier and puppet master of Democrats). The reference was delivered to my face as if it were inconceivable that I might disagree with the story she had clearly internalized. McMorris Rodgers evidently subscribes to the narrative of Democrats as pitiable, misguided by the forces of evil. It is a narrative that dovetails nicely with her Fundamentalist upbringingthat labels those not of her particular faith as unfortunate creatures misled by Satan. She is an acolyte of the Republican narrative of minority rectitude and majority illegitimacy so well articulated by O’Toole.

As if any more proof of her adherence to that narrative were needed, McMorris Rodgers, instead of supporting Governor Inslee’s efforts to reduce the explosion of Covid-19 cases, only offers criticism. On the failure of Trump and Congress to come up with a second round of Covid relief funds McMorris Rodgers says “Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, is to blame for the inaction before Election Day.” Add up her statements. They amount to this: “We must keep the economy open regardless of spiking Covid cases overloading our health care system AND it’s the evil, misguided Democrats’ fault that the federal government isn’t helping more to keep businesses afloat.” People can be sacrificed on the altar of the economy (after all, God determines who survives and the righteous, if chosen to die, can look forward to a glorious afterlife). For McMorris Rodgers the way to deal with the current Covid crisis is to plow through it on the way to a vaccine. 

Keep to the high ground,