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As Idaho’s mortuaries and intensive care units overflow with COVID patients, Republican Gov. Brad Little has said he will fine companies with more than 100 employees if they enact a mask warrant.

It’s a crazy position rooted in his desire not to give to his challenger, Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin, any reason to attack her as she fights for her job.

Damn the dying, as Republicans turn on each other in contests up and down the poll and across the country to see who can go farthest to the right to claim the Trumpian mantle.

The governor of Idaho is right to be on his guard. McGeachin made a power play when he briefly left the state in May, using his temporary status as acting governor to enact a mandate against mask mandates. Little toppled him upon his return – not that he was a huge fan of mask mandates, but he was leaving it to individual localities and that didn’t go far enough for the Trump base, so now he will punish companies for have tried to ensure the safety of their employees in the event of a pandemic.

This COVID-ravaged Boise family has a message for Idaho mask burners

“She seems to be channeling Trump here and seeking Trump’s approval,” says Jessica Taylor, who follows governor races for The Cook Political Report.

This dynamic is hardly confined to Idaho. In another Red state, Alabama, where COVID cases overwhelmed the health care system, Governor Kay Ivey blamed the unvaccinated for the surge, a rare moment of truth that saw him earn three main challengers, with two others who are thinking about the race.

Even in Texas, where Gov. Greg Abbott doesn’t face a very serious challenge, Taylor says, he’s taking no chances, ordering a Trump-requested recount of four vote-rich counties Trump won in 2020, adding to the madness. At his rally in Georgia on Saturday, Trump bizarrely claimed that the months-long audit of the Arizona election found he had won even though Cyber ​​Ninjas, the GOP-selected company that conducted the audit, discovered that Biden had won – and by more votes than the initial tally.

The Republican primaries are taking shape like the Hunger Games, dystopian battles among the faithful Trumpians. “What you are seeing are incredible races down as they unite to be the craziest and most Trumpiest in whatever context arises,” says Matt Bennett, co-founder of Third Way , a moderate Democratic group. The fights and the lies can be about mask warrants, or vaccines, or how we teach child slavery, all of which relate to the Big Lie that Trump somehow won the election and was cheated. of his so-called legitimate victory.

Tomorrow the lies could be about the Afghan refugees or what’s going on at the southern border or the calls to fund the police, “the things that generate heat,” Bennett says, “and these politicians are stoking the flames as aggressively as they can get. .

It’s politics, you say, but it’s different, says Robert Kagan, a neo-conservative foreign policy scholar whose essay in the Washington post this weekend exposed loud and clear what many on the political spectrum have been worried about for some time, namely the fascist tendencies of Trump and his supporters as they put in place policies that could allow Republican legislatures to cancel elections when they do not like the results. Kagan argues that we have never seen an American political movement tied as passionately to a man and his lies as it is to Trump.

The term fascist is associated with the murderous genocide, and rightly so because of its dark history. What we are seeing on the populist right is rhetoric that leans toward fascism and feeds into the main challenges to see who can be the purest, toughest, and most extreme voice of the Trumpian right to win Cher’s approval. Leader.

Another early test of whether this Trumpian, dystopian approach will work is Virginia, where Democrat Terry McAuliffe, once considered a shoo-in, is in a tight race with Republican Glenn Youngkin, a political neophyte who, during the weekend, declined to say if he would. voted to confirm the 2020 election if he was a congressman. He operates on “electoral integrity,” the code for the big lie, and of course, he’s skeptical of even mask mandates for nurses who treat immunocompromised cancer patients.

“The overall environment for Democrats is bad right now,” says Jessica Taylor of Cook Political, “and a lot depends on what Congress is able to do” on infrastructure and the debt limit and the Biden program on transformational change now that Democrats have unified power. “The fundamentals still favor McAuliffe,” she said, but it’s time to mount or close for Democrats and the party’s disunity could cost her dearly if not resolved.

Before the 2020 election, says Matt Bennett, one could argue that Republicans were simply trying to stop people from voting who weren’t their constituents, heinous behavior in a democracy but within limits. “Since the election it has become very clear that if they don’t like the result, they will change it.” Trump’s allies are pushing through laws in Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that would allow Republican legislatures to overrule the vote if it doesn’t suit them. “When we talk about repealing or canceling people’s votes, that’s the end of the American experiment,” says Bennett, who is not otherwise an alarmist. “Our democracy, at least for now, will be over.”

What happens in Idaho will not change the national image or the dynamics of power, but people will die needlessly because politicians who see a path to power are playing with their lives. In Virginia, where early voting is underway for the Nov. 3 governor election, McAuliffe’s biggest enemy is lack of enthusiasm, but how can that be given all that is at stake?

“When democracies die, they no longer die in a coup or with tanks arriving,” Bennett explains. “They die because people give up power or because they are not careful.”

Or they disappear when politicians act only to preserve and expand their power, as the Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Idaho do in a political brawl that treats a population suffering from COVID as collateral damage in an undeclared war and useless.

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