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Do unto others…first by @BloggersRUs

Do unto others...first

by Tom Sullivan

In states under the control of legislatures radicalized by the T-party, citizens watched Republican lawmakers hyper-gerrymander congressional and state districts, constrict access to voting, and impose on cities measures designed to weaken them both financially and politically. Where the GOP gained power during the Obama presidency, it moved swiftly to consolidate it and lock it in for as long as possible into the future.

The sitting president's Advisory Commission on Voter Integrity promises to attempt at the national level what voter "integrity" measures have done in the states: limit the franchise to the right (the right's) voters.

Politico now reports that the White House will propose Thomas Brunell as deputy director of the Census Bureau with the power to oversee the 2020 census:

Brunell, a political science professor, has testified more than half a dozen times on behalf of Republican efforts to redraw congressional districts, and is the author of a 2008 book titled “Redistricting and Representation: Why Competitive Elections Are Bad for America.”

[...]

The pick would break with the long-standing precedent of choosing a nonpolitical government official as deputy director of the U.S. Census Bureau. The job has typically been held by a career civil servant with a background in statistics. It does not require Senate confirmation, so Congress would have no power to block the hire.

When in power, consolidate.

Jonathan Chait sees such efforts and the flogging of the "IRS scandal" as the Republican "blueprint for the use of government as an implement of partisan domination and revenge."

He writes about the "retaliatory state" at New York magazine, drawing on Richard Hofstadter's classic analysis:

“The enemy seems to be on many counts a projection of the self: both the ideal and unacceptable aspects of the self are attributed to him. A fundamental paradox of the paranoid style is the imitation of the enemy.” Conservatives simultaneously suspect that Democrats have perverted government as a tool of partisan domination and that this is a proper and normal — or at least inevitable — use of executive power.
Here in the provinces, small-government conservatism now seems quaint. In state after state, conservative legislatures with the power to do so have sought to privatize local infrastructure, gerrymander local government, target uppity cities audacious enough to pass minimum wage laws or restrictions on fracking, and in some cases effectively abolish local governance.

With their proposed tax bill, conservatives are no longer being coy about its design. Chait cites Stephen Moore of the Heritage Foundation on the tax bill. Some of the "pay fors" in the bill, Moore chuckles, "help defund the left." Chait adds:

Moore argues that subjecting income spent on state and local taxes to federal taxation — a change Republicans might be expected to oppose as a form of double taxation — will have the delicious secondary effect of pressuring state government to shrink. “The big blue states either cut their taxes and costs, or the stampede of high-income residents from these states accelerates,” he gloats. “The big losers here are the public employee unions — the mortal enemies of Republicans. This all works out nicely.”
Not to mention (Moore does) the tax provisions targeting universities that "indoctrinate 21-year olds with an increasingly vacuous and illiberal education." Education is on the enemies list too. Chait observes, "Supply-side economics has given way to revenge-o-nomics."

It would be a saving grace if, as Jamelle Bouie suggests, Republicans displayed "an inability not just to govern but to do much of anything outside of ideological posturing." But that assumes governing as their goal. They want to rule.

To that end, the GOP strategy in Washington, D.C. and in state capitols is do unto others before they can do unto you. It is not just policy debates conservative leaders practice in bad faith, but citizenship.

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Request a copy of For The Win, my county-level election mechanics primer, at tom.bluecentury at gmail.