[guest post by Dana]
Here is an illuminating interview with Rusty Bowers, Arizona’s speaker of the House who lost his bid for the Senate last month. As you might recall, Bowers had refused to subvert the election despite facing immense pressure from Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and John Eastman. As a result of his refusal to submit to Trump’s demands, he faced death threats, as well as protesters assembling outside of his family’s home.
Anyway, I can’t express how much I relate to Bowers’ sentiments below. I don’t believe he is being dramatic or overstating the issue. This is simply a realistic view of where we currently find ourselves. His words resonate with me because, like Bowers, I believed the Republican Party to be the gatekeepers of the Constitution, and that every effort would be made to protect it, no matter what might come along to challenge it. Never did I dream it would be Republicans that would be so willing to betray it:
“The constitution is hanging by a thread,” he told me. “The funny thing is, I always thought it would be the other guys. And it’s my side. That just rips at my heart: that we would be the people who would surrender the constitution in order to win an election. That just blows my mind.”
Here’s a bit more from the interview with Bowers:
The ascent of election deniers across the board marks the final transformation of the Republican party in the state. Trump’s grip is now complete; the strain of constitutional conservatism epitomized by Bowers is in the wilderness.
“I think it’s a shame,” was his rueful reflection on that transition. “The suite of candidates that we now have representing what used to be a principled party is just like, wow … It’s like being the first colonizer on Jupiter.”
In February, a mega “election integrity” bill was introduced into the Arizona legislature that was the culmination of the anti-democratic drift of the party. House bill 2596 would have given the Republican-controlled legislature the power to reject any election result that the majority group didn’t like.
Bowers resoundingly killed off that bill by sending it to languish not in just one house committee, but in all 12 of them. “I was trying to send a definitive message: this is hogwash. Taking away the fundamental right to vote, the idea that the legislature could nullify your election, that’s not conservative. That’s fascist. And I’m not a fascist.”
It’s a party that doesn’t have any thought. It’s all emotional, it’s all revenge. It’s all anger. That’s all it is.
Bowers said he remains optimistic that the party will one day find its way back on to the rails…
“It’s not like I’m alone in the wilderness. There’s a lot of people from all over the United States thanking me.”
But for now, he accepts that things are likely to get much worse before they get better. I ask him, at this moment, is the Republican party in Arizona lost?
“Yeah,” he said. “They’ve invented a new way. It’s a party that doesn’t have any thought. It’s all emotional, it’s all revenge. It’s all anger. That’s all it is.”
He held the thumb and digit finger of his right hand so close together that they were almost touching. “The veneer of civilization is this thin,” he said. “It still exists – I haven’t been hanged yet. But holy moly, this is just crazy. The place has lost its mind.”