Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Right-wing Extremist Republican Party

Joe Lowndes, a political scientist at the University of Oregon who researches rightwing politics, said: “If the Oregon Republican party were a European political party it would be an authoritarian far-right party...[Republicans] were essentially gloating about having an armed wing of the party."

 He says that climate crisis politics represents a “sweet spot” for Republicans in Oregon. “There’s a distinct way that Republicans can use rightwing populism around that issue, bringing in farmers and loggers while you’re doing the work of wealthy interests,” Lowndes said.

Republican senators were responding to an incremental, market-based, cap-and-trade plan aimed at curbing climate crisis. But, when faced with the climate bill, Republicans pulled their senators out of the state and sent them to Idaho, to deny the state Senate a quorum. Earlier in the session, they did the same thing when faced with a bill raising taxes for education, and Democrats broke the deadlock by abandoning bills intended to limit exemptions to vaccination and introduce gun control measures. Having killed the climate crisis bill, the Republican senators said they would return to their jobs on Saturday. “Our mission was to kill cap-and-trade,” said senator Herman Baertschiger “And that’s what we did.”

As police were ordered to bring them home, right-wing militia groups vowed to defend them, raising the prospect of violent confrontation.  Senator Brian Boquist – a former special forces officer and the owner of a business that reportedly deployed “paramilitary force” in overseas conflicts – hinted he would violently resist arrest.

The situation has led some to warn that conservatives elsewhere in the US may be similarly obstructive in the difficult but urgent efforts to address the climate crisis and may seek to adopt similar tactics. Several armed right-wing groups said they would defend them. On Thursday, a convoy of logging trucks blocked the streets of the state capital, Salem, while hundreds of protesters – some sporting the insignia of patriot movement groups – demonstrated outside the state house against the climate crisis bill, despite the fact it was no longer even on the table. Rightwing patriot movement groups have, along with many Republicans, long expressed disbelief in human-induced global heating, and have sometimes embraced conspiracy-minded beliefs about environmental measures such as the “Agenda 21” conspiracy theory – which holds that there is a UN-driven plot to undermine US sovereignty, and exert “full spectrum dominance” over a submissive population

Eric Ward, executive director of the Western States Center, a progressive nonprofit explained, “It should be a warning and a wake up call to the rest of the nation that, even when a governance system exists, even if you have a supermajority, that democratic practice itself is still vulnerable to being undermined, and that’s what we’re seeing.” Citing the presence of often-armed patriot movement groups, and the unwillingness of Republicans to draw “a clear moral line” around such groups, Ward said: “If we were in Afghanistan, if we were in Iraq, if we were in Sudan, if we were in the former Yugoslavia, and this was taking place, we would call it a political crisis, and we would call it a threat to democratic practice.”
Joseph Fishkin, a law professor at the University of Texas, co-wrote an article on the practice of “constitutional hardball” whereby such groups take extreme actions to violate previously existing norms.

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