Maxed Out: From a wave to a ripple

“Roe, Roe, Roe Your Vote”

My sister was wearing a T-shirt with that message printed on the front when I was in New Mexico visiting in September. She wasn’t the only one. 

Surprisingly, at least to me, the responses she got were largely positive. Other women asked where she got it and said they were going to get one when they got home. There were some nasty looks from other folks, but no negative comments.

While I was fully prepared to write at least half the population of my former home off for their embrace of the dark side and apparent lack of a moral compass, they surprised me last Tuesday—and in the days that followed—by renouncing the excesses and lingering smell of the Orange-haired Monster and voting as though they’d awakened from a somnambulant state of lapsed judgement and/or complacency.

The much-touted Red Wave proved to be more of a Red Ripple, albeit like the wine of the same name, both tasteless and consumed by those with no appreciation for just how lousy it is. 

Across the country, people voted as though they had both brains and a conscience. Okay, still only about half the country, but at least the outcome was so much better than hoped for. 

At last count, the Dems will hold their slim lead in the U.S. senate, and may increase it by one sentient being, depending on the outcome of a run-off election in Georgia early next month. On the ground, the current squeaker of a victory means the Republicants don’t have the power to overturn even the meagre victories of Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill and Inflation Reduction Act, both of which promise to do more in the fight against climate change than anything the Republicants are even thinking of doing.

Of course, Republicants are, for the moment, too busy deriding their former leader, claiming he’s responsible for turning what looked like a sweep of both houses of Congress into a stinking pile of dung. No sooner did the early poll surveys start to come in than former supporters began to assail The Don for poisoning the well. Nice to see… but four years too late.

The hypocrisy of leading Republicants is fully revealed. When The Don was a winning ticket, they were lining up to kiss his ring, or something else the editor would probably make me change but may well be more accurate. Now that he’s a liability, they’re fighting among themselves like a Black Friday mob at Walmart to push him off the plank and into the shark-infested waters swirling the Good Ship GOP.

I have no doubt if the Orange-haired Monster rises, phoenix-like, between now and the 2024 election, they’ll line up once more, lips puckered. In the absence of any governing principles, winning is their everything.

And with his announcement on Tuesday, Nov. 15, the suspense is over—the Monster will roll the dice again and fire up the Make Trump Grate Again machine. 

Whatever happens next, it’s at least gratifying to imagine the Monster fuming at the fact his old supporters—MAGAsites notwithstanding—are calling him a loser. Fox News is straining to reach escape velocity from their sycophantic support for him. A raft of Republicant presidential hopefuls are firing up their own campaigns, including the intolerable governor of Florida, who was once a Mini-Me Trump but is now referred to by his creator and derider as Ron DeSanctimonious. Leading elites of the party are cloistered in back rooms trying to figure out whether they can effectively keep Trump from the GOP ticket two years from now.

Meanwhile, federal and state prosecutors are tripping over themselves on the courthouse steps to file criminal legal cases against him and the various con games he’s run most of his life.

Which, pundits say, is one of the reasons he may bull ahead and launch his campaign: to forestall legal action. There isn’t a case where ex-presidents have had criminal charges brought against them, and in a country willing to give Richard Nixon a pass, it’s a short step to imagining they’d be loathe to indict a presidential candidate who used to be commander-in-chief. Too bad.

There seems to be no doubt overturning Roe sparked a renewed interest in fighting to regain and retain hard-won rights. The reality is the political hacks appointed to the Supreme Court who, one after another at their confirmation hearings, promised to uphold the precedent of Roe only to later act as though they’d had their fingers crossed when answering senators’ questions, reinvigorated the generation who fought initially for the right for women to choose—and awakened the subsequent generations who blithely believed the choices they’d inherited required no further defence from them. 

Their mobilization, and the addition of “moderate” Republicants who still had a glimmer of a social conscience, breathed hope into what looked like a hopeless situation.

So, are there any lessons to be learned by Canada’s populist, right-wing nuts? I don’t delude myself into thinking there are too many Albertans, other than NDP supporters, who are losing sleep over the election of Danielle Smith and her crazy, kill-Canada ravings. There’s a good reason the province is referred to as Texas North. Must be something about oil and gas that affects the brain.

But certainly Pierre Pottymouth has to be thinking hard about the Phone-Home-ET planks in his platform. He’s been uncharacteristically quiet about his former plan to save Canada’s financial health by embracing cryptocurrency. I’d love to know how much of his own wealth he had tied up in that before it crashed and burned. 

He’s aligned himself with New Brunswick’s premier, who has been embracing an assault on official bilingualism, a move likely to keep the Conservatives from making any inroads in Quebec, a vote-rich province that has been a wasteland for them since Brian Mulroney was prime minister.

There’s still a large part of the country who questions his sanity toadying up to the freedumb convoy protesters last winter in Ottawa. He’s tried to put some breathing space between his embrace of them and the current reality by suggesting he only supported, “peaceful and law-abiding protesters … while condemning any individuals who broke laws, behaved badly or blocked infrastructure.” In other words, all of them?

At least politics is getting interesting again. Between the Monster and covid, I was losing interest. It’s kind of like getting an old friend back.