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The Price of Disloyalty: Black Balled

The previous item covers some of the things that Republicans have been doing to please Donald Trump. Now, it's the other side of the coin: the price of deviating from the party line.

The current poster boy here is, of course, Larry Hogan. On the whole, today's Democrats accept that when a Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) or a Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is running for reelection, they might have to say some pretty centrist things to keep the voters of their purple-red states happy. On the other hand, the Trumpublicans do not accept that when a Republican is running in a blue state, they might also have to say some pretty centrist things to keep the voters happy.

A Hogan victory in Maryland would be HUGE for the Republicans, as it would make it nearly impossible for the Democrats to hold onto the Senate. So, the smart thing to do would be to leave Hogan to his own devices, since he knows Maryland better than any other Republican. His message about the Trump trial—delivered before the verdict came down, mind you, and tailored to the fact that he's gotta hold on to independent voters—was "let's respect the rule of law, whatever the outcome is." That would have been entirely acceptable to the Republican Party of Richard Nixon or Ronald Reagan. But for the Republican Party of Trump, it's apostasy. Trump campaign manager Chris LaCivita was the first to pounce, and since then other Republicans, including Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) and RNC Co-Chair Lara Trump, have essentially ridden him out of the party. If the Republicans fail to retake the Senate, this kind of shooting-themselves-in-the-foot stupidity (which also includes all the godawful candidates they've nominated in swing states) will be the reason why.

Moving along, here's someone you probably haven't heard of: Courtney Gore. She is a former teacher and a mother of four, and so was very concerned when she began hearing from Moms for Liberty and from Republican politicians about all the brainwashing that is going on in the nation's schools. So, Gore ran for a seat on the board of the 7,700-student Granbury Independent School District and she won. Her goal was to do whatever was necessary to put a stop to all the evils she'd been told about.

Once Gore was on the job, however, one small problem presented itself: Everything she'd been told was a lie. She looked very carefully at the curriculum and, in particular, found no trace of critical race theory, or of anything trying to convince children to reject the gender on their birth certificate. She was relieved to learn this, and promptly shared the news with her many Christian/right-wing friends, and with the audience of her right-wing online talk show.

Gore's fellow right-wingers were not relieved to learn that the schools were not the disaster they feared. Instead, she was shunned by people she had previously been close with, and was denounced as a liar and a traitor. She is now attacked, and often threatened, at school board meetings. And when she attends, she has to have a marshal escort her to and from her car, so as to protect against potential assault.

How about another person you probably haven't heard of (unless you're a loyal reader of The New York Times): Cindy Elgan. She has been the clerk of Esmeralda County, NV, for the last two decades. This is a tiny, rural county with only 620 voters. As such, Elgan knows virtually every voter in the county by name. And she has successfully administered dozens of elections over the years.

In 2020, Trump got 82% of the votes in the county, including Elgan's (in fact, she has flown a Trump flag outside of her house). However, some residents thought that total was fishy, and it should have been... even higher. And so, they started demanding answers. Elgan has bent over backwards, sideways, forwards and upside-down to take the complainers through the process, and to assure them that the tally was legitimate. And her reward, as with Courtney Gore in Texas, is that she's now being shunned by people whom she regarded as friends for decades (including her next door neighbor). Oh, and Elgan is also being subjected to a recall election.

Stories like these help explain why so few Republicans break ranks these days, no matter how outlandish Trump's statements are, or no matter how bad his behavior is. Witness, for example, the extent to which nearly every Republican, even the supposed moderates, instantly adopted the "the Trump trial was a politically motivated sham" line. That was literally the only response available that excused Trump for being a convicted felon.

That said, these stories also illustrate a truism about extremist movements: They eventually turn inward, as members accuse each other of not being extreme enough, or being extreme in the wrong way. The useful thing about having a party line is that it helps to maintain extreme loyalty. The bad thing is that you eventually end up purging enough people that your movement ceases to be viable. (Z)

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