Banana Republicans

Banana Boulevardier

Democracy, the rule of law, and the competition of ideas were all once at the core of the belief system of people who called themselves Republicans and conservatives. There may still be some conservatives holding on to these concepts, but it is no longer a required — or even desired — dogma to be a Republican at any level.

It has been coming for a number of years, but after the 2018 midterm elections, the GOP has accelerated its anti-democratic, authoritarian tendencies to Ludicrous Speed. The voter suppression and hyper-gerrymandering practiced by Republicans in the 21st Century has now given way to an utter disregard of the electoral process.

In North Carolina, Republican congressional candidate Mark Harris has resorted to outright election fraud to steal the election by stealing ballots. Of course, NC also provided the playbook for other state Republican parties when they lost the governorship to a Democrat and changed laws to limit his power before the Democrat took office. In both Wisconsin and Michigan, the GOP is working overtime to make sure newly elected Democrats will not be able to take actions they campaigned on, with regard to health care, for example..

In Wisconsin, this power grab comes amid aggressive gerrymandering that saw Democrats receive 54% of votes for the state assembly, but only get 37% of the seats.

This disregard for the will of the people can also be seen in Washington, where very clear signs the President* has committed crimes — potentially including treason — are dismissed by Republicans in Congress. They simply don’t care.

Republicans have gone bananas, doing anything to hold on to power, satisfy their greed, and deliver for their patrons (Trump or Putin or both?), turning the U.S. into a Banana Republic.

As you try to navigate the streets of the crazytown our politics has become, have a Banana Boulevardier cocktail. Then we can get about making sure to return Democracy to the USA.

I got this surprisingly tasty drink via Frederic Yarm @cocktailvirgin. The Banana Boulevardier is a variation on one of my favorite cocktails, the Boulevardier, essentially a Negroni with whiskey. It is:

1 oz Bourbon (Bulleit)
1 oz Sweet Vermouth (Dolin)
1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz Giffard Banane du Bresil

Stir with ice and strain into a coupe glass (or a rocks glass with a large ice cube). Garnish with an orange twist.

Cheers!

Gerrymander & The Top Bananas

Clipper

As El Caudillo Trump dreams of his military parade, the Republican Party is going about the more fundamental work of undermining American democracy and our electoral process.

Leaving aside for the moment the way Republicans are doing nothing about clear evidence that Russia interfered with the 2016 election — and appear to be ready to do so again this year — last week saw another GOP authoritarian outburst on gerrymandering. When the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that the Republican drawn electoral map violated the state’s constitution and a fairer map must be drawn, a GOP state legislator called for the Justices to be impeached.

Meanwhile, over in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker is refusing to hold special elections for two open state legislature seats after another special election in January saw the Democratic candidate win a heavily Republican district.

Of course, Walker’s move is strategic, at the core of GOP efforts to gerrymander the Karl Rove vision of a permanent Republican majority. He can’t let those Wisconsin seats fall to Democrats and endanger the Republican ability to draw the electoral map.

Gerrymandering isn’t new. It comes from the 1812 redistricting map of Massachusetts where one redrawn district was likened to a salamander which, when combined with Gov. Elbridge Gerry’s name gave us a new word.

However, this effort has accelerated and been refined with technology. After the 2010 census and the new maps it created, the 2012 election saw 1.4 million more Americans vote for Democrats for Congress, but Republicans won a 33-seat majority. Then, in 2016, despite winning fewer than half of all votes for Congress, Republicans again won a 33-seat majority.

The problem of gerrymandering spurred former Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., with support from President Obama, to create the first-ever strategic hub for a comprehensive redistricting strategy, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. The NDRC is working to ensure the next round of redistricting is fair and that maps reflect the will of the voters.

The importance of this effort cannot be understated, and was highlighted by an important piece in the NY Times over the weekend. Patrick Kingsley’s piece on Hungary’s slide toward autocratic rule is a very important look at the danger liberal democracies face around the world today.

To understand how Prime Minister Viktor Orban has reshaped Hungary, start with the private meetings in 2010. Fidesz had just won national elections by a margin that qualified the party for more than two-thirds of the seats in Parliament, even though it had only won a slim majority of votes… Weeks later, Mr. Orban and his lieutenants began a legislative assault on the Hungarian Constitution, curbing civil society and, to less fanfare, diverting billions of euros in European Union and federal money toward loyal allies.

First, he moved simultaneously to curb the Hungarian media and the judiciary. Next came the erosion of the country’s checks and balances, which has helped Mr. Orban share the spoils of power with close friends and important businessmen.

And then, came the electoral process. The restructuring of Hungary’s election system, including a redrawing the electoral map, has helped him remain in power, even as his party has won fewer votes.

The electoral foundation of American democracy is in peril not because of Trump, but because of the GOP’s long-term attacks on the electoral system that can be accelerated under Trump’s general disregard for the rule of law.

In fact, the GOP acquiescence in Trump’s attacks on the rule of law prompted Jonathan Rauch and Benjamin Wittes to write in The Atlantic a call to boycott the Republican Party from top to bottom in this year’s election. They have come to regard the GOP as an institutional danger because “it has proved unable or unwilling (mostly unwilling) to block assaults by Trump and his base on the rule of law. Those assaults, were they to be normalized, would pose existential, not incidental, threats to American democracy.”

That is where we are now with Republican efforts to restructure our electoral process. While their gerrymandering and voter suppression efforts may have once been incidental threats to our democracy, they have now become existential.

The instability and tin pot dictator approach of Trump and the Republicans is steering the ship of state dangerously close to banana republic territory. So while you’re thinking about how much to donate to the NDRC, have a Banana Clipper cocktail. Via Kindred Cocktails, the Banana Clipper is:

1.5 oz Barbancourt 8 rum

.5 oz Plantation Stiggin’s Fancy pineapple rum

.66 oz Cynar

.25 oz Giffard Crème de Banane

1 dash Bittermens Xocolatl Mole bitters

lemon twist (expressed and discarded)

Stir over ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, twist

Cheers!