In the iconic scene from Casablanca when the casino in Ricks Café is raided, the character Captain Renault, played by Claude Rains, famously declares: “I am shocked, shocked to find out that gambling is taking place here! ”At the same moment, of course, the croupier delivers his winnings.
This classic moment provides the perfect analogy to the current righteousness and outrage of the anti-Trump Republicans who rallied behind MP Liz Cheney (R-WY) and actually worshiped her for taking a supposedly principled stance against those who former RNC chairmen and now Lincoln Project Republican are Michael Steele has called the “GOP renegades”.
Cheney, of course, has positioned herself as the great defender of democracy and the US Constitution by refusing to confirm the “big lie” that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump.
As we saw last week when the Senate Republicans rejected a proposal to simply commission an investigation into the January 6 insurrectionary attack on the Capitol, Cheney’s Republicans in Congress shamelessly openly defend efforts to promote democracy in America to destroy.
However, let’s not be fooled and into ignorance of recent political history.
The Republicans, who are now so vociferously distancing themselves from Trump, have long been happy, like Captain Renault, to amass the spoils of their own war against American democracy.
While Cheney, Steele, and other self-proclaimed “principled” Republicans continue to denounce those who proclaim the current “Big Lie” that the 2020 elections were unlawful, it is important to recognize how these Republican leaders historically acted as a party in their own widespread electoral theft and continue to do so.
Of course, these Republicans, who vigorously claim to be “principled”, are silent about their own election theft strategy, even if it stands ponderously as the proverbial elephant in the American political arena – or whatever Ryan Grim in The Intercept. writes He called “the elephant’s weapon in space”.
This elephant is the longstanding republican practice of gerrymandering that those great defenders of democracy like Cheney and Steele really don’t talk about much and those machinations behind their loud and distracting, but also important, accusations of the wave of outrageous and extreme voter suppression laws in addition to the “Big Lie.” “.
Grim writes: “The crucial effect of gerrymandering is well understood by campaign workers and party leaders, but is hardly recognized in national political talks – the weapon of the elephant in the room, so to speak – even when the analytical focus narrows to the details of a particular voter.” . “
This silence, this lack of firm recognition of the “elephant weapon” prevented a serious confrontation with the impending political catastrophe, suggests Grim:
“If the Democrats managed to escape the traditional midterm curse and not drop a single vote between 2020 and 2022, they would still lose control of the House of Representatives simply as a result of the post-census republican gerrymandering. Unless there is a change in the law in force or an overwhelming wave of democracy at the 2006 or 2018 level.
That is, the votes of American voters could very well be undone by a Republican party doing everything it can historically to enforce minority rule in America.
We don’t have to look far back in history to catch this trend.
After the 2018 interim semesters, MSNBC Rachel Maddow explains how difficult republican Districtization efforts – or gerrymandering – skewed the voting card in favor of one republican Minority.
This half in Wisconsin, 53 percent of the votes for offices in the state parliament went for democratic candidates republican Candidates who get 45 percent of the vote. But – look at this –republican were elected in 64 percent of the seats!
Maddow asked and answered her own question, “Why is that? Because they tipped the playing field. “
In the same report, she identified a similar dynamic in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, all keys Swing states play important factors in the national elections.
But Cheney, Steele, and others of their kind remain decidedly reluctant to face this political dynamic, this republican behavior, which is its own form of electoral stealing and which is equally damaging to democracy, perhaps even more because it is so much less discussed.
Not only is it “barely recognized in national political talks,” as Grim noted, but gangs of so-called principled Republicans are actively sweeping it under the carpet and denying its reality.
Take Steele’s recent opinion piece on MSNBC.com, in which he reiterates the false distinction between principled Republicans who don’t believe in electoral theft and these “GOP renegades.” He writes,
“The break within the Republican Party is not the biggest problem in American politics today. But it’s important to highlight what is: the struggle to maintain, protect, and defend American democracy. From the right to vote, the constitution and the rule of law to the once-lauded choice of principle over partisanship, character over corruption and land over party – we have seen the Republican Party – my party – tacitly endorse or directly participate in the systematic deconstruction of the Legitimacy of our republic. “
As we can see from a cursory glance at the recent history of the gerrymandering, Steele is telling a maddened lie even here, insisting that the Republican Party has a history of defending democracy and prioritizing bias.
Trump is simply a convenient slide on which the GOP can project its own corrupt practice. He’s her scapegoat, as Steele continues
“Since his exile on what is now the Elba of Mar-a-Lago, the disgraced former president’s cloak of lies and divisions has been trumpeted by elected GOP apostates of republicanism and the conservative ideals that enliven its principles. Ready to speak the truth in a whisper and behind closed doors, they have put a jackhammer on the foundation of our democracy while they insist on it advancement the ‘big lie. ‘”
We can’t believe Steele’s hypocritical hype, of course.
The “principled” GOP had already done pretty well in bringing a jackhammer into American democracy.
Let’s not shock us.
Tim Libretti is a professor of American literature and culture at a state university in Chicago. As a longtime progressive voice, he has published many scholarly and journalistic articles on culture, class, race, gender and politics, for which he has received awards from the Working Class Studies Association, the International Labor Communications Association, the National Federation of. received Press Women and the Illinois Woman’s Press Association.