Tuesday, January 17, 2023


Remember this last week?
A Republican in the House of Representatives will be forming a new caucus to take on "wokeness" across the country, which presents the "greatest domestic threat to America today," he said.

Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., announced Friday that he will be creating the "first-ever Anti-Woke Caucus" to take on political correctness groups, which he said have formed a "tyranny" that is vastly changing America through "indoctrination."
Banks's real purpose wasn't clear at the time. But now we know what the announcement really was: it was the soft launch of his Senate campaign, which Politico reported on today:
The Indiana Senate race could perfectly encapsulate the Republican Party’s internal struggles after a disappointing midterm. Jim Banks is diving into it first.

With Mike Braun retiring from the Senate to run for governor in the Hoosier State, Banks is maneuvering to overwhelm any opposition early. But the four-term congressman and his allies are still preparing for a possible clash with Mitch Daniels, a two-term governor of the state who is weighing a bid of his own....

While Daniels called for a “truce” on social issues more than a decade ago, Banks is a pugnacious culture warrior who says Daniels’ view of issues is way out of vogue in the Republican Party.

In [an] interview, he argued that social and cultural hot-button issues “matter more than at any point in my lifetime.” He’s vowing to prevent schools from teaching critical race theory, a framework that examines how racism has become ingrained in American institutions that most public schools deny teaching, and is pushing to restrict transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports.

“I’ll never be calling for a truce on social issues or cultural issues,” Banks said, noting that Hoosiers are “looking for a fighter in the United States Senate,” not someone who would call for a truce.
Daniels used to be regarded as kind of a big deal. Not only was he the governor of Indiana, he was George W. Bush's budget director and, later, the president of Purdue University. At one time he was seen as a possible future president. David Brooks swooned over him.

But Banks is right: Daniels is completely out of step with the modern Republican Party. If he gets into the race, I expect many mainstream journalists to predict thst he'll win the primary, and to be astonished when Banks shellacs him.

I told you about that Anti-Woke Caucus last week. Its manifesto, published under Banks's byline, was quite paranoid.
The nation’s most powerful forces—our intelligence agencies, corporations, the press, our universities, and even our military—are all pressing further and further into uncharted territory from which it’s not clear America can return....

The most toxic part of this tyranny is its doctrine—“wokeness.” Everyone has by now heard this word but it means something very specific. It means that all the so-called oppressor groups must be punished for their past and present alleged sins. There are many steps to punishing them: inducing self-hatred through indoctrination, stripping away their rights by not enforcing the laws on their behalf, public humiliation, hatred, expropriation, and ultimately violence. That’s what the Left has done so far. It’s not exactly clear yet how far this can go....

The Left has also pushed wokeness in the military. We must wonder what the Left wants to do with an anti-American military? For generations Americans never had to think about the Founders’ warnings about the dangers to civil government by a standing army. This has become an immediate question.
In The Atlantic today, Brian Klaas writes about what he calls America's "asymmetric conspiracism":
... a particularly insidious disease has infected the core of its political system, one that is not present to the same degree in other rich democracies: extreme conspiracism.

Within the modern GOP, conspiracy theories—about stolen elections, satanic cults, or “deep state” cover-ups—have replaced policy ideas as a rallying cry for Trump’s MAGA base. Trump’s disciples have developed an encyclopedic knowledge of a dizzying cast of characters, along with a series of code words for alleged cover-ups. They rattle off their accepted wisdom about conspiracies that most people have never heard of, such as “Italygate,” the absurd notion that the U.S. embassy in Rome, in conjunction with the Vatican, used satellites to rig the 2020 presidential election....

What’s really troubling about this political moment in America, though, is not merely the spread of conspiratorial thinking in the general population. It’s also that the delusions have infected the mainstream political leadership. The crackpots have come to Congress.
And now another conspiratorialist -- someone who says, among other things, that it's reasonable to worry about a threat to American citizens from a "woke" military run amok -- could well become the junior senator from Indiana.

How might Banks win? Politico tells us:
The conservative Club for Growth is running ads arguing that Daniels is “not the right guy for Indiana anymore.”

... In an interview, Club for Growth President David McIntosh said he’s prepared to spend $10 million or more in the race.
The Politico story goes on to say that "while the Club for Growth likes Banks, it’s not officially endorsing yet." That's no longer true -- the Club for Growth just endorsed him. That $10 million will now be at his disposal.

And who's bankrolling this? Right-wing billionaires, of course. Ten years ago, it was reported that more than half the money that went to the Club for Growth Action Fund came from ten individuals; the biggest donor at the time was Peter Thiel, who gave $2 million between 2011 and 2013. In the 2022 election cycle, the biggest donor to the Club for Growth PAC was Richard Uihlein, head of the Uline office-products company, who gave $20 million.

Conspiratorial delusions have infected the Republican Party in large part because of money from the right-wing donor class, which is willing to finance anything that will elect more Republicans and therefore lower rich people's taxes, however destructive it might be to our country. If spreading conspiratorial brain worms to half the population of America makes the infected vote Republican, that's fine with rich right-wingers. Who cares what harm it might do?

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