In the cult scene from Casablanca, in which the casino in Rick's café is searched, the character Captain Renault, played by Claude Rains, explains famously: “I am shocked, shocked to find out that they are playing here! “At the same time, of course, the croupier delivers his winnings to him.
This classic moment provides the perfect analogy to the current justice and outrage of the anti-Trump Republicans who rallied behind Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) and actually used them for her supposedly principled stance toward those who were formerly RNC chairmen and now Republicans of the Lincoln Project were set up, Michael Steele has called the "GOP renegades".
Cheney, of course, has positioned herself as the great defender of democracy and the US Constitution by refusing to confirm the "big lie" that Donald Trump stole the 2020 presidential election.
As we saw last week when Senate Republicans turned down a proposal to merely commission an investigation into the January 6 insurgent attack on the Capitol, Cheney's fellow congressmen in Congress are shamelessly open about the effort to defend the destruction of democracy in America.
Let us not be fooled, however, and withdraw into ignorance of recent political history.
The Republicans, who are now so loudly distancing themselves from Trump, have long been, like Captain Renault, happy to collect the spoils of their own war against American democracy – and will continue to do so.
While Cheney, Steele, and other self-proclaimed Republicans with "principles" continue to criticize those who proclaim the current "big lie" that the 2020 election was inadmissible, it must be recognized how historically these Republican leaders have been involved as a party in their own election widespread election theft and continue to do so.
Of course, even if it is clumsy at the center of the proverbial elephants in the American political arena – or what Ryan Grim writes in The Intercept has "the weapon of the Called elephants in the room ".
This elephant is the longtime republican practice of gerrymandering that these great defenders of democracy like Cheney and Steele really don't talk about, and that obscures these machinations behind their loud and distracting, if important denunciations of the wave of outrage and obscuration, from legislation to oppression extreme voter in addition to the "big lie".
Grim writes, “The key implications of gerrymandering are well understood by campaign workers and party leaders, but hardly recognized in national political talks – the weapon of the elephant in the room, so to speak – even when the analytical focus is limited to the details of a particular voter suppression calculations. "
This silence, this lack of firm recognition of the "weapon of the elephant", suggests Grim, has prevented a serious confrontation with the impending political catastrophe:
"If the Democrats manage to escape the traditional medium-term curse and not cast a single vote between 2020 and 2022, they will still lose control of the House of Representatives simply as a result of the Republican wandering after the census." Unless there is a change in existing laws or an overwhelming wave of democracy at the 2006 or 2018 level. "
That said, once again the votes of American voters could very well be overturned by a Republican Party that does everything in its power to enforce minority rule in America.
We don't have to look far back in history to catch this trend.
After halfway through 2018, MSNBC did Rachel Maddow explained how hard republican District efforts – or gerrymandering – skewed the voting card in favor of a republican Minority.
In this medium-term in Wisconsin53 percent of the votes for positions in the state parliament went to democratic candidates republican Candidates receive 45 percent of the vote. But – try it out –republican were elected in 64 percent of the seats!
Maddow asked and answered her own question, “Why is that? Because they tipped the playing field. "
In the same report, she identified a similar dynamic in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, all keys Swing states play important factors in the national elections.
But Cheney, Steele, and others of their kind remain decidedly cautious about this political dynamic, this republican behavior that is its own form of election theft and is just as detrimental to democracy, perhaps even more so because it is so much less discussed.
Not only, as Grim noted, is it "barely recognized in national political talks," the principled gangs of so-called Republicans are actively sweeping it under the carpet, denying its reality.
Take Steele's recent opinion piece on MSNBC.com, in which he reiterated the false distinction between principled Republicans who don't believe in electoral theft and these "GOP renegades". He writes,
“The break within the Republican Party is not the biggest problem in American politics today. But it's important to highlight what is: the struggle to maintain, protect, and defend American democracy. From voting rights, the constitution, and the rule of law to the once-lauded choice of principle over partisanship, character over corruption, and land over party, we have seen the Republican Party – my party – tacitly approve or directly participate in the systematic deconstruction of the legitimacy of our republic . "
As we can see from a cursory glance at the recent history of the gerrymandering, Steele himself tells a great lie in insisting that the Republican Party has historically defended democracy and prioritized principle over partisanship.
Trump is simply a convenient slide on which the GOP can project its own corrupt practice. He's her scapegoat, as Steele continues
“Since his exile in what is now the Elba of Mar-a-Lago, the shameful former president's cloak of lies and division has been trumped by elected GOP apostates of republicanism and the conservative ideals that enliven its principles. Ready to speak the truth in a whisper and behind closed doors, they have put a jackhammer to the very foundation of our democracy while it persists promote the & # 39;big lie. & # 39; "
We can't believe Steele's hypocritical hype, of course.
The "in principle" GOP had already done pretty well in getting a jackhammer into American democracy.
Don't let yourself be shocked.
Tim Libretti is a professor of American literature and culture at a Chicago state university. A longtime progressive voice, he has published many academic and journalistic articles on culture, class, race, gender, and politics, for which he has received awards from the Working Class Studies Association, the International Labor Communications Association, and the National Federation of Press Women and the Illinois Woman & # 39; s Press Association.