Friday, September 23, 2022


Yesterday, The New York Times published a long opinion piece by Carlos Lozada that blamed America's crisis of democracy on politicians and political operatives who know that what they say and do is fraudulent:
... the lie that Donald Trump won the 2020 election has grown so powerful because it is yoked to an older deception, without which it could not survive: the idea that American politics is, in essence, a joke, and that it can be treated as such without consequence.

The big lie depends on the big joke. It was enabled by it. It was enhanced by it. It is sustained by it.

When politicians publicly defend positions they privately reject, they are telling the joke. When they give up on the challenge of governing the country for the rush of triggering the enemy, they are telling the joke. When they intone that they must address the very fears they have encouraged or manufactured among their constituents, they are telling the joke. When their off-the-record smirks signal that they don’t really mean what they just said or did, they are telling the joke.
This isn't wrong exactly, but it's reductionist and incomplete. It implies that everyone who's actively destroying democracy is doing it for kicks: thrill-killers of the democratic order. And it suggests that these functionaries and flunkies are acting on their own.

They aren't. The fish stinks from the head:
Fossil fuel giant Koch Industries has poured over $1m into backing – directly and indirectly – dozens of House and Senate candidates who voted against certifying Joe Biden’s win on 6 January 2021.

Koch, which is controlled by multibillionaire Charles Koch, boasts a corporate Pac that has donated $607,000 to the campaigns or leadership Pacs of 52 election deniers since January 2021, making Koch’s Pac the top corporate funder of members who opposed the election results, according to OpenSecrets, which tracks campaign spending.

In addition, the Super Pac Americans for Prosperity Action to which Koch Industries has given over $6m since January 2021, has backed some election deniers with advertising and other communications support, as well as a few candidates Donald Trump has endorsed who tried to help him overturn the 2020 election, or raised doubts about the final results.
Republicans have been lying to us about "election integrity" at least since the days of George W. Bush, when U.S. attorneys who wouldn't pursue cases of nonexistent voter fraud were fired. Partisan fraudsters such as Catherine Engelbrecht's True the Vote organization -- source of the misinformation in Dinesh D'Souza's fake documentary 2000 Mules -- have been lying for years, and avoiding consequences because they have prominent defenders, like the opinion section of The Wall Street Journal.

Are they doing this for the lulz? No. They're doing it because right-wing billionaires want the U.S. government to be in the permanent control of the Republican Party, which reliably votes to cut rich people's taxes and loosen corporate regulations. Republicans can't win elections by promoting their actual agenda, which is extremely unpopular, so in addition to manipulating the voting system for years in order to gain structural advantages, they've been selling their party to voters with lies and conspiracy theories. Some of the politicians and operatives who tell these lies and peddle these conspiracies know they're absurd, and while they may tell themselves it's all a joke, it's dead serious to the people directly or indirectly bankrolling them.

If loyalty to the GOP now means believing that the 2020 election was stolen, then of course the Koch network wants to bankroll election deniers. Koch World wants whatever it takes to put its preferred politicians in power. That's no joke.

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