By Don Mohler
Who doesn’t love classic cinema? There’s Citizen Kane, Casablanca, Shawshank Redemption, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Schindler’s List, The Godfather (#2 of course), Sophie’s Choice, and without a doubt, Animal House (that groan you hear coming from the other room is my wife). Come on now, be honest. You know that as you channel surf, you can’t help but stop when the boys from Delta House show up. Where else will you learn important lessons of life like “fat, dumb, and stupid is no way to go through life, son?”
And never has this great American classic been more relevant.
After all, when looking back at the last four years, millions across the nation felt just like Flounder did when Otter bottom lined what just happened: “You *****d up. You trusted us.” And then the young pledge sobbed like a baby. When all of the analysis is complete, when Woodward, Heillemann, and the rest of the gang chronicle this story, it will be very difficult for any of them to top those two simple declarative sentences. On November 3, the nation exhaled with a collective, “Yes we did.” Or as 84 million would prefer to say, “Yes they did.”
And it is clear that House minority leader Kevin McCarthy must be a big fan. How else do you explain what happened this past week as he tried to manage a new back bencher from Georgia? I refer of course to the charter member of the newly formed Q Caucus who former senator Claire McCaskill simply calls “that QAnon Lady.” Let’s go with that.
As McCarthy babbled on and on and dodged any media but the Newsmax crowd, you can’t tell me that you didn’t think of Faber College’s renowned ROTC officer Chip Diller (AKA Kevin Bacon) standing in the middle of the Homecoming Parade run amuck screaming, “All is well. Stay Calm. All is well. Stay calm.” Yep, add McCarthy to the list the next time you play “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.”
But Mr. McCarthy appears to have forgotten how that scene ends. Bacon is imbedded in the pavement emasculated without power as the crowd storms by. You see, when you pretend not to know what QAnon is after speaking about it at length on numerous occasions, the sharks begin to circle. (Not to mention that, if at this point you actually don’t know what QAnon is, then perhaps you are just too stupid to be in Congress).
When you hang your hat on process arguments to protect those who advocate for the assassination of the Speaker of the House, who make campaign ads threatening to shoot members of Congress with an AR 15, who promote the lynching of Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton, who claim that school shootings are merely false flags, and who proudly proclaim that forest fires in California are caused by Jewish lasers from outer space, you yourself don’t belong in the People’s House. You belong in the aforementioned “Cuckoo’s Nest.” My lord, even Dean Wormer knows that you put people like that on Double Secret Probation.
But it wasn’t just leader McCarthy who stepped forward to support the QAnon Lady, 198 of his fellow Republicans joined him on this crusade. With one simple vote, they turned the Grand Old Party– the party of Lincoln– into the Party of Q. How on earth did we get here? Well, as Steve Kornacki would say, “Let’s go to the Big Board.”
Cable pundits have been falling over themselves to explain this debacle. Former Republicans wring their hands in dismay, and everyone makes the issue far too complicated. You see, it all comes down to the numbers, specifically and a little thing called gerrymandering. As we take a quick look, it will all make sense. Let’s focus on just a few members of the newly formed Q Caucus: The QAnon Lady hails from the 14th congressional district in northwest Georgia. In November, she gathered 75% of the total count with 229,000 votes. It was so bad that her Democratic opponent actually dropped out of the race prior to the election.
How about the “Brylcreem Man?” One of my very favorites hales from the Florida 1st, Matt Gaetz. He amassed 282,000 votes and a 65-35 victory margin. Paul Gosar from the Arizona 4th? He had a real squeaker with 278,000 votes and 70% of the vote. These districts exist all over the electoral map. And it’s not just Republicans; Democrats do their best to draw safe districts as well. Everyone plays this game. When districts are skewed in such a fashion, there is no need for a candidate to moderate his or her views in any fashion. In fact, it encourages them to be even more extreme.
So what does all of this have to do with Kevin McCarthy? Well, two things: although proving what is in someone’s heart is always dangerous, I have a pretty good hunch that he is not all that appalled by many of the things coming out of the mouths of the Proud Boys crowd. Remember, he harnessed the Tea Party a decade ago to seize power within the party. If you’ve forgotten the Tea Party, they were the first ones to the “Barack Obama wasn’t born here” party. Second, he can count, and he has concluded, probably rightfully so, that while many of these beliefs are repugnant to main-stream voters and soccer moms in the suburbs, they are anything but in many of these districts and in Republican primaries. Should the Q crowd take a walk, the future of the Republican Party is tenuous at best. They’ve got a tiger by the tail, and that usually doesn’t end well. McCarthy knows that and is going to try to thread the needle by screaming, “Socialist. Socialist. Socialist.”
This is indeed a dismal outlook, but there is actually a light at the end of this tunnel, and it goes by the name of HR 1, the “For the People Act,” a piece of legislation introduced by Maryland Congressman John Sarbanes. “Our historic reform effort will clean up decades of dysfunction in Washington, return power to the people and build a more just, equitable and prosperous country for all Americans,” said Sarbanes when reintroducing the legislation. Included in the bill is a federal solution to curtail gerrymandered districts, a provision overwhelmingly supported by the American people. It establishes an independent commission in every state to draw districts with public input and free of political interference.
HR 1 will make it easier for people to vote, cleanup a corrupt campaign finance system, and make gerrymandered districts a thing of the past. And over time, it will reduce the influence of people like the QAnon Lady and her pals.
It really is that simple. Pass the damn bill.
Don Mohler is the former Baltimore County Executive and President and CEO of Mohler Communication Strategies. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enter your email to receive updates for new articles.