Revelatur Newsletter - May 2, 2021
Losing Less Badly is Not Winning
Greetings friends! In this edition we continue to highlight the growing national power of the Republicans and White Nationalists despite apparent Democratic Party ascendance and Biden’s agenda effectiveness. In the first piece – “Evidently, the Price for Democracy is Higher than we’re Willing to Pay” -- we demonstrate why it is a vain hope to expect the Democratic Party to lead the nation from our current state (managed Democracy) to our desired state of full and exemplary Democracy -- and we provide a more realistic path to that end. In “Florida: Proudly Leading the Way Back to the Past” -- we examine in detail HB1 and SB90 – Florida Governor DeSantis’ craven attempts at a “win win” -- for him anyway -- rolling the state back to 19thCentury governance and paving his way to the White House.
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Evidently, the Price for Democracy is Higher than we’re Willing to Pay
Our intelligence reporting for 18 months has indicated that re-establishing a functioning democracy in the United States would require a rapid coalescing into a disciplined ecosystem of the Democratic Party, liberal and progressive organizations, concerned citizens, the press, real money, influential businesses, and government institutions. We have argued that the Democratic Party should lead such an ecosystem, leveraging a long-term strategy. We have maintained the position, based on analysis vice hope, that governmental agencies and functions could and would remain largely apolitical, and that the Supreme Court, Department of Justice and state and local justice systems – imperfect all -- would provide a moderating influence on extremism and authoritarian trends. We expected that the mainstream press would have by now abandoned its “bothsidesism” approach in favor of a model more useful for the changed conditions on which they report. Frankly, we expected more citizen outrage and subsequent action in response to the cretinization of America led by the Republican Party that is turning the U.S. into a shithole country at breakneck speed.
Unfortunately, according to our analysis, that brief window of opportunity has closed. The Democratic Party still does not have a strategy, it’s too late to wait for one, and it’s clear they’re not going to lead us to victory. The Supreme Court has continued to reveal itself as a reactionary element of society intent on creating an authoritarian, oligarchical, neoliberal, unequal, highly violent, semi-feudal and semi-fundamentalist society. Our national systems of justice are an unfunny joke, dealing death and imprisonment to the most vulnerable while white nationalist killers and insurrectionists largely escape consequence.
With the bright exception of a few investigative and analytical periodicals, the press has become next to useless. And in a post-truth, post-outrage world, the utility of investigative journalism is rapidly declining anyway. To pile on, even when the press gets it “right” it is too late and massive damage is done to people and society. To wit, note the belated, incomplete, punch-pulling fivethirtyeight.com article beginning to come to grips with the systemically tilted playing field -- a concept we elaborated in these pages a year ago: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/advantage-gop/
And the citizens of this fair nation? We are pouring our energy into figuring out how to create the most dangerous gender reveal parties possible instead of figuring out how to fix the mess we’re in. The French have nationwide strikes to protest minor subway fare increases, while we can’t muster a peep in the face of voter suppression, gerrymandering, legalization of vehicular homicide, and attempted insurrection. And we make fun of them?
Although intelligence analysis is far from a perfect science, we estimate that the Republican ecosystem is approximately 10% more powerful today than it was in 2016 due to court packing, statehouse control, citizen apathy, the desecrable propaganda machine–low information voter echo chamber, its ever-strengthening wall of impunity, and Democratic failure to hold Republican wrongdoers accountable for the past four plus years of law and rule breaking. The 2020 elections did not reverse Republican power gains; they only slowed the rate of power growth by the right. The growth curve is flatter but the long-term trend still favors Republicans. Because of this, Plan A (Strategy-driven Democratic Party leading us back to democracy and towards equality) is – as we used to say in the Army – Overcome By Events.
Well, what is Plan B then, you ask? Our hypothesis as to the optimal organization for the fight ahead is a distributed, multi-nodal network composed of concerned citizens, new participative democracy mechanisms, existing and emergent liberal and progressive organizations, progressive press organizations, concerned commercial enterprises and allied international organizations, and athletes and entertainers, with the Democratic Party bringing up the rear since that’s the place they feel most comfortable.
How does it get started? Well, many hard-working but weary folks will tell you it already has, and to some extend they are correct. The problem is that there is a plethora of loosely connected organizations all fighting really tough battles for the specific aspect of democracy or justice or equality that matters most to them – and no one is fighting the war for national survival. This is why the right is eating our lunch. They get that it’s a war for national power and control, not a series of un-connected low consequence political skirmishes. It’s not a “battle for our souls” as Biden likes to say, and it’s not just a war for the future of the planet – as important as that is. The reality is that our very lives are at stake, because the engines of authoritarianism and totalitarianism know no rational bounds, extol violence, and are only ever stopped by superior force.
There is energy and mobilizable outrage, but there is no common vector for it, and no organizing principle to animate it -- yet.
Now this is the tough part to swallow – the solution. We’ve analyzed the American socio-political situation from intelligence, systems, and historical frames -- and the only solution that wins in our “war games’ -- that is to say, that defeats the Republican insurgency and enables democracy to survive, is the following: a national participative democracy mechanism (with the participants noted above) segmented into participative democracy Communities of Interest and Practice connected by an integrating and mediating mechanism board composed of representatives of established, recognized liberal and progressive organizations. This organization recognizes the rule of law and the Constitution as guiding principles, but does not subordinate itself to mediating mechanisms such as the Supreme Court, Congress, and State and Local Governments – it shares power with them in manner and mechanism to be decided mutually -- and it only considers these arrangements temporarily binding based on the results of near continuous plebiscites.
This network brokers solutions with the branches of government, and then holds them accountable through oversight, voting and impeachment/recall actions. It does not ask for permission to share power, it claims its rightful power as noted in the Declaration of Independence and enshrined in the Constitution -- and does not recognize nor defer to a “higher” entity.
The tools? Personal character and moral suasion -- there is some power still left there. Brokering law and policy with government using participative democracy practices and mechanisms. Economic preferences and boycotts. Work stoppages. Starving bad organizations of oxygen by changing jobs. Civil disobedience. Voting. Lead and speak when it’s your turn -- which is now by the way.
Worried that the right will use the same tactics? Wake up -- they already are. Worried you’ll lose your moral standing? Wake up -- you already have except in your own mind. Worried that Biden and the Dems just need more time and demographic shifts to fix what ails us? Wake up -- you’re an appeaser and a fool both. Worried that the arc of history bending towards justice is outrunning the right and we’ll fuck up what’s already working? You’re a useful idiot.
This war will heat up, count on it. The right’s moneymen will pull out all the stops to prevent this effort from gaining traction, because if it does it’s their death knell. This proposed solution is the only vector that has a chance of bringing the hardcore right base back from the brink of complete nihilism by giving them a real aspirational vector. Will we embrace them? Only if they faithfully convert -- and faith without works is dead as St. James said. Let’s by clear, it will be a hard conversion path for the “justification by faith” Evangelico-Neoliberal-Republican-White Nationalist-Fake Patriots -- and thus a high bar for our acceptance. There will need to be a real Reconstruction after this war is over. But that’s less harsh then what’s in store for us liberals if we lose.
Florida: Proudly Leading the Way Back to the Past
Republicans don’t want you to vote. And they want their supporters to be able to run people over with their cars. In fact, these are their top legislative priorities at the moment.
The morning of April 19th, surrounded by Polk County Sheriff’s Deputies with nary a Black face to be seen, Florida’s governor and possessor of the shiteatingest grin in the known universe Ron DeSantis signed HB1-- the so-called Combatting Public Disorder law -- signaling to residents of Florida and the entire nation that the GOP is going all in on the fight AGAINST democracy.
Just days afterward, the Florida legislature passed SB90, a law that restricts mail in voting, limits drop boxes, and reduces the ability of third party organizations to register people to vote.
One two, a system whereby the government reflects the will of the people is on the ropes, the attack in Florida mirroring the nationwide, state-driven dismantling of democracy that the GOP is undertaking with all haste. As someone who votes in Florida, registers people to vote in Florida, and protests in Florida, the stakes here are decidedly less academic -- but make no mistake, the GOP’s ambitions in the Sunshine State are by no means unique.
The Combating Public Disorder bill is worth taking a closer look. Let’s take a look at the key provisions of HB-1.
Liability for municipalities where protests result in damages to property or injury to person
Appeal to Administration Commission if municipality reduces operating budget of law enforcement
Prohibiting ‘mob intimidation’
Liability shield for people who run over protestors
Denies bail until first court appearance for arrested protestors
Felony charges for blocking a roadway
Liability for municipalities...
Basically holds city governments liable if something bad happens during a protest.
Think of this as collective punishment -- giving every local despot every incentive in the world to crack down as hard as possible on any and all protest.
Appeal to Administration Commission if municipality reduces operating budget of law enforcement.
So you’re going to defund the police.
Yeah all right, these fuckers don’t want the gravy train to stop no matter how many unarmed civilians they kill. This provision means the cops can complain to someone if local citizens dare exercise some sovereignty over their own communities. The state can overrule your democracy and make sure the money keeps flowing to the cops.
Denies Bail Until First Court Appearance
Designed to have a chilling effect on protest by ensuring that people arrested stay in jail. Why? Because fuck you, that’s why.
Prohibition on Mob Intimidation
Makes it unlawful “for a person, assembled with two or more other persons and acting with a common intent, to use force or threaten to use imminent force, to compel or induce, or attempt to compel or induce, another person to do or refrain from doing any act or to assume, abandon, or maintain a particular viewpoint against his or her will.”
I think this is to stop people from shouting at someone eating brunch? It’s pretty broad. The way it’s written now, it could be used against rival sports fans.
Felony for Blocking Roadway
Social justice movements thrive on dynamic protests that create tension and make people uncomfortable. That’s the reason they pick public spaces and why they have to have confrontation. Blocking roadways gets attention. One can’t easily make the argument that being stuck inside your car is violence, yet here we are. Florida Republicans made blocking a roadway a felony.
Liability Shield for Counter Protestors who Run People Over
Speaking of roadways, perhaps the most troubling trend in GOP legislation as of late are measures just like this one that actively encourage violence from their supporters by providing legal coverage for vehicular manslaughter.
Right wing reactionaries are rather fond of trying to kill people with their cars. Sometimes they succeed.
The most famous of these is of course Heather Heyer, struck and killed by a white nationalist terrorist in the Charlottesville protests. It should be noted, of course, that social justice protestors have been attacked by drivers over 100 times (and counting) just since last summer. We all know who’s driving over who, here, and it’s almost always a truck flying a MAGA flag sporting an “All Lives Splatter” sticker causing the carnage.
DeSantis and the FL GOP prioritized this bill above the state’s actual crises, ignoring the state’s intentionally defunct unemployment system which has been swamped with calls, nevermind raising the weekly unemployment wage payout, nevermind corporate tax rates, nevermind the ecological disaster wrought by decades of deregulation of the phosphate mining industry, nevermind the state’s surging COVID infections.
HB-1 criminalizes dissent.
SB-90 criminalizes democracy.
Currently awaiting DeSantis’ signature, this bill will:
Make it a crime for someone else to drop off your vote by mail ballot.
Retroactively cancel your prior request for a mail in ballot.
Force voters to submit mail in ballot requests more frequently
Eliminate drop boxes
Make it a crime to give food and water to people waiting in line
Blaise Ingoglia, cosponsor of the House version of the bill said, “The things in this bill are meant to increase election security without suppressing anybody’s vote.”
What election security, one might ask, given that voter fraud is nonexistent and not a single state election official in all fifty states can provide any examples of security issues in need of fixing? Look, Florida GOPers said a bunch of bullshit about why they just had to do it. The truth is, HB-1 and SB-90 are dangerous and unnecessary. Kind of like the Republican Party.
Florida Republicans are incapable and uninterested in meaningful governance and the attendant electoral benefit of meeting the minimum job requirements of legislators, so their long-term survival strategy relies exclusively on suppressing dissent, voter disenfranchisement, and outright cheating. HB-1 and SB-90 are part of a wider overall strategy of democracy ratfucking that includes overturning the will of the voters, fake candidates, and new legislation to make it harder to vote.
Let’s talk returning felons. Florida voters overwhelmingly supported Amendment 4 in 2018 -- overcoming the 60% supermajority threshold to restore the voting rights of the state’s nearly one million returning felons. Republicans can’t stomach the thought of expanding the vote so in September of 2019, they signed a bill to counter Amendment 4 that amounted to a modern day poll tax, thwarting the will of the state’s voters and narrowing the electorate.
Oh, and Florida Republicans also ran fake candidates to siphon votes away from Democratic contenders in tight state Senate races. Ex-Florida state Republican senator Frank Artiles has been charged with three criminal counts for giving more than $40,000 to a fake candidate bearing the same last name as the Democratic incumbent in a tightly contested race in South Florida. The Republican won by 32 votes.
Two reasons why this matters even if you don’t live in Florida. First, DeSantis looks like he’s going to run for President if for some reason the ‘orange in exile’ in Mar-A-Lago isn’t alive and/or free from some sort of criminal encumbrance by 2024.
Critically, Florida’s GOP strategy is the GOP’s national strategy. Republican-controlled legislatures have passed similar anti-protest bills in Oklahoma, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Tennessee. As reported in The New Republic, they have a pointed interest in encouraging vehicular murder.
Criminalizing dissent is one part. Keeping you from voting, that’s their bread and butter. Or bread and mayo?
Republicans are eyeing over 300 measures to restrict access to the ballot in 43 states. Rolling back drop box access, mail in ballots, ID restrictions. Make it a crime to give people water or food. The laws are remarkably similar in their broad strokes, and remarkably similar in their lack of evidentiary support. There is no fraud problem, there is only a people keep voting against Republicans problem.
Everywhere you look, Republicans signal their support for minority rule. They plan to filibuster the For the People Act in the Senate. They’re opposed to DC Statehood, and they barely even bother to conceal their racist glee in denying representation to a district with more people than multiple states that pays more in per capita federal income tax than any state, and pays more overall than 22 states. Taxation without representation is bad, unless you’re a majority Black district that leans Democratic, in which case Republicans are suddenly all stocked up on excuses.
Republicans: they hate democracy, and they aren’t afraid to show it. Georgia’s much-derided SB202 was the first, most high profile effort, and the bill’s fight broke into the national consciousness. Florida’s anti-democracy law has, unfortunately, less fanfare. The assault is happening in broad daylight, and they’re still getting away with it.
DeSantis, Kennedy, McCarthy, McConnell, the whole pasty anti-patriot posse -- there’s no daylight between the supposed moderates and the supposed extremists in the elephant gang - they want democracy strangled in the bathtub, and they want it done yesterday.
Make no mistake, the GOP saw the massive outpouring against Trump, retaking the Senate, not as a wake up call to change their policies which alienate and exasperate actual voters and human beings, but to further explore violence and illiberalism as a means to counteract the legitimate expression of popular will.
These goons got nothing, just anti-trans legislation, grievance bills going after ‘woke’ corporations for ‘censorship,’ and...tax cuts. Always tax cuts. They spent three fucking weeks talking about a Dr. Seuss book. Which by the way, that shit was super racist. Noticeably they didn’t show the super racist picture very often. They want their somnolent slop sucker of an audience to think the left is mad about green eggs and ham, rather than grotesque racist caricature.
The reason there is no GOP alternative to Biden’s infrastructure bill is that there is no GOP alternative legislation for anything. Intellectual bankruptcy and grievance soup is thin gruel, and there’s only so far you can go electorally pining for a Mr. Potato head penis. Biden is historically popular (turns out people like their government helping them) and the Rs are getting more unrepresentative by the day.
The Republican Party is not committed to democracy. They’re committed to its destruction. Make no mistake, this is the future the GOP wants -- a white nationalist ethno state ruled by a corrupt minority, where if you dare dissent, you face the full power of a the militarized police, the last thing you see and hear will be the roar of a pickup truck driven by a MAGA chud flying a 3 per centers flag.
Just two days after DeSantis signed HB1 into law, civil rights attorneys led by the nonprofit Lawyers Matter Task Force filed a federal lawsuit directly challenging the law, plaintiff lawyer Aaron Bates writing that the law “unconstitutionally threatens to impose liability on individuals expressing their rights to free speech regardless of their intent to incite violence, the likelihood that their speech will result in violence, or the imminence of the intended violence.”
Passing the For the People Act is absolutely critical to combatting the GOP’s antidemocratic efforts. H.R.1 will expand voting rights, reform campaign finance, fight gerrymandering, and create new ethics rules for lawmakers. This won’t fix the deep structural imbalances, like the deeply unrepresentative makeup of the senate, but it will act as an important stopgap against the current Republican assault. It’s a floor, not a ceiling.
We have an obligation to engage in organized disobedience, to throw gears into the smooth functioning of the racist anti-democracy machine. That means breaking these unjust laws en masse, it means crashing Republican press conferences - everything is on the table, because if the right wins this round, it’s game over.