NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, March 8th, 2021

A reckoning for ticket-splitters: Can you vote for any Republican who sticks with Trump?

When Gov­er­nor Nel­son Rock­e­feller rose to speak at the 1964 Repub­li­can Con­ven­tion, ask­ing for a Grand Old Par­ty plat­form plank denounc­ing the Ku Klux Klan and John Birch Soci­ety, he was drowned out by boo­ing and chant­i­ng from gal­leries packed with sup­port­ers of Sen­a­tor Bar­ry Gold­wa­ter of Arizona.

“You may not like to hear it, ladies and gen­tle­men, but it’s the truth,” Rocky told the rabid right-wingers (one of whom was heard to chant You lousy lover).

The extrem­ism dis­played at the Cow Palace in San Fran­cis­co angered my con­ser­v­a­tive moth­er and tipped the votes of Belling­ham neigh­bors across the street. They stuck with Repub­li­can Dan Evans for Gov­er­nor, but vot­ed to dump incum­bent U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jack West­land for young Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger Lloyd Meeds.

Vot­ers like them cre­at­ed a Con­gress that had the votes to pass Great Soci­ety bills.

West­land was a Gold­wa­ter man, author of a let­ter that pre­dict­ed sub­stan­tial Repub­li­can House gains if Bar­ry were the pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee. Instead, Repub­li­cans lost more than forty seats, Westland’s among them. The House new­bies, Meeds among them, gave us Medicare and fed­er­al aid to education.

We are at a point, to swipe Yogi Berra’s famous phrase, of déjà vu all over again. Extrem­ism has again infect­ed the Repub­li­can Party.

It goes far beyond the cult of per­son­al­i­ty around Trump.

Lead­ers of Patri­ot Prayer were front and cen­ter when Clark Coun­ty Repub­li­cans vot­ed to cen­sure Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jamie Her­rera Beut­ler for her pro-impeach­ment vote. They were also at the Ore­gon State Capi­tol for a Decem­ber break-in.

The far right has tak­en over the Ore­gon Repub­li­can Par­ty to the point where its 2018 guber­na­to­r­i­al nom­i­nee has re-reg­is­tered as an independent.

In this state, a par­ty which once gave us com­pe­tent statewide office­hold­ers got behind an absolute kook, Loren Culp, for governor.

The Repub­li­can Par­ty’s 2016 guber­na­to­r­i­al stan­dard bear­er, Bill Bryant, gave lec­tures on his heroes Abra­ham Lin­coln and Theodore Roo­sevelt. Culp, mean­while, believed police chiefs and sher­iffs should inter­pret the Constitution.

The major­i­ty of Repub­li­cans in Con­gress became fel­low trav­el­ers of a would-be strong­man – “enablers” is actu­al­ly the bet­ter phrase – when they signed onto Texas’ law­suit to vacate results of the 2020 elec­tion, and when they vot­ed in the House against accept­ing elec­toral votes. Sen­a­tor Lind­sey Gra­ham, R‑South Car­oli­na, appeared to inter­fere with the vote count in Georgia.

What to do about these people?

Yel­low dog Democ­rats — who in this state have been on an anti-extrem­ism kick for near­ly four years — would say, What dilem­ma? Show ’em the door! They have long proud­ly vot­ed (D) from the top of their bal­lots to the bottom.

We received an ear­ly intro­duc­tion to insur­rec­tion­ists on the right in the per­son of State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Matt Shea. He was boot­ed out of the House Repub­li­can Cau­cus, but they would not expel him from the Legislature.

But plen­ty of Wash­ing­ton vot­ers have long exhib­it­ed an inde­pen­dent, tick­et-split­ting streak. We’ve elect­ed Gov­er­nors and Sen­a­tors of one par­ty when a can­di­date from the oth­er was win­ning Washington’s Elec­toral Col­lege votes.

I’ve been a tick­et split­ter from my first vote, which went to Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger George McGov­ern for Pres­i­dent, Repub­li­can Dan Evans for Gov­er­nor, and Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Joel Pritchard for Congress.

The obvi­ous point: Folks like Evans, Pritchard and Bill Bryant aren’t much in evi­dence any­more. The Repub­li­can base has become the hard right. The cred­i­ble fig­ures with­in the par­ty get to say a few words at Lin­coln Day din­ners before yield­ing the floor to a screechy talk radio host who serves up red meat.

Bipar­ti­san caus­es are becom­ing his­to­ry. Evans, Pritchard, and Rep­re­sen­ta­tives John Miller and Sid Mor­ri­son were instru­men­tal in pre­serv­ing Cas­cade wilder­ness and cre­at­ing the Colum­bia Gorge Nation­al Scenic Area.

When the House vot­ed recent­ly on wilder­ness leg­is­la­tion, includ­ing Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Derek Kilmer’s 126,000-acre Wild Olympics plan, all three of Washington’s Repub­li­can House mem­bers vot­ed nay.

Then Unit­ed States Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Doc Hast­ings even denounced Pres­i­dent Oba­ma for des­ig­nat­ing the San Juan Islands Nation­al Monument.

So, there are new rules of behav­ior for this old tick­et splitter.

Do More Than Watch: A sign at Netroots Nation 2017

A pro­test­er holds a sign urg­ing peo­ple to Do More Than Watch at Net­roots Nation 2017, on the grounds of the Geor­gia State Capi­tol in Atlanta, on the day Heather Hey­er was killed in Char­lottesville (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

First: No truck nor trade with extrem­ists’ fel­low travelers/enablers.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers can deliv­er sac­cha­rine Tweets about restor­ing civil­i­ty to pol­i­tics, but incen­di­ary tweets smear­ing of Planned Par­ent­hood came just before arson­ists attacked the non­prof­it’s clin­ic in Pullman.

Sec­ond: Beware the pre­tense of being reasonable.

The late Min­neso­ta Sen­a­tor Eugene McCarthy once joked: “A mod­er­ate Repub­li­can is some­one who, if he sees you drown­ing fifty feet off­shore, will throw you a thir­ty foot pole… and declare he’s gone more than halfway.”

An exam­ple: The Mitt Rom­ney-Tom Cot­ton plan that would ramp up the fed­er­al min­i­mum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10 by the year 2025. The $10 tar­get is low­er than the exist­ing min­i­mum wage in Cotton’s home state of Arkansas.

Oba­ma’s team wast­ed near­ly a year while Sen­a­tor Max Bau­cus, chair of the Sen­ate Finance Com­mit­tee, tried to nego­ti­ate with Sen­ate Repub­li­cans on health care reform. John McCain and Lind­sey Gra­ham bailed on cap-and-trade cli­mate action leg­is­la­tion once the rabid right (e.g. Sarah Palin) began rail­ing against it.

A third rule: Con­sid­er only those Repub­li­cans who explic­it­ly denounce the Oath Keepers/Proud Boys/Patriot Prayer and oth­er neo­fas­cist forces in the ranks, or had the mox­ie to decry Trump’s bid to over­turn the 2020 election.

It’s not enough to be shocked – shocked!! – at the U.S. Capi­tol insur­rec­tion when you refused to accept Biden’s win and signed onto a legal challenge.

The gen­uine­ly shocked Repub­li­cans should sup­port a probe of their House col­leagues who seed­ed and encour­aged the insurrection.

The bar is set pret­ty high, but pub­lic ser­vice entails risk taking.

I recent­ly read Sen­a­tor Mar­garet Chase Smith’s 1950 “Dec­la­ra­tion of Con­science” against her Repub­li­can Sen­ate col­league Joe McCarthy.

Then-Attor­ney Gen­er­al Slade Gor­ton, who would go on to rep­re­sent the state in the Unit­ed States Sen­ate, called in 1973 for Richard Nixon’s resignation.

Bill Bryant repu­di­at­ed Trump in the midst of his 2016 cam­paign for Governor.

Gor­ton — a giant in state Repub­li­can pol­i­tics — also wrote a Seat­tle Times op-ed endors­ing grounds for the first bid to impeach Trump.

If they can­not free the Repub­li­can Par­ty from racist extrem­ists, per­haps the time has come for a new cen­ter-right polit­i­cal par­ty root­ed in con­ser­v­a­tive values.

As to the moment, as in the wake of the 1964 Gold­wa­ter deba­cle, the pro­gres­sive agen­da is front-and-cen­ter. Buck­et list items have the chance to become law.

My moth­er was so hap­py for her years-ago vote that helped put Lloyd Meeds in Con­gress. An ear­ly green, she watched him helped shape the North Cas­cades Nation­al Park and Alpine Lakes Wilder­ness Area.

“Extrem­ism in defense of lib­er­ty is no vice,” said Bar­ry Goldwater.

Words to both recoil and ral­ly pro­gres­sives, to this day.

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One Comment

  1. Bra­vo!

    # by C.C. Goldwater :: March 9th, 2021 at 12:38 PM
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