Paul Waldman at the Washington Post writes, The Republican primaries have gone off the rails:

It might have been inevitable that the 2022 version of the Republican Party would be dominated by its most extreme and unhinged impulses. The election of a Democratic president always produces a furious backlash. With Donald Trump demanding GOP fealty to his Big Lie about 2020, there wasn’t going to be much appetite for serious people with ideas for sensible governing.


But in this year’s Republican primaries, things have truly gone off the rails. And this raises an important question: What exactly do Republican voters think they’re going to get from the collection of clowns they’re nominating for office this year?

Let’s take a brief tour:

      • Georgia: While Gov. Brian Kemp looks to be holding off a primary challenge from former senator David Perdue, whose entire case is that Kemp failed to steal the 2020 election, the story is quite different on the rest of the ballot. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is in a neck-and-neck race with another Trump lickspittle, Rep. Jody Hice. Herschel Walker, a walking collection of scandals whose deep thoughts about policy start and end with his football career decades ago, will almost undoubtedly be the party’s nominee for Senate.
      • Arizona: The likely gubernatorial candidate, Kari Lake, is an election denialist who has proposed imprisoning the leading Democrat, who is currently secretary of state. The Republican who might take that office and run the state’s elections, Mark Finchem, is a QAnon conspiracy theorist and self-proclaimedmember of the far-right Oath Keepers. [Update below].
      • Pennsylvania: A leading candidate for governor, Doug Mastriano, recently appeared at a QAnon-style gathering at which the “global satanic blood cult” was explored. The organizers presented Mastriano with a sword, which he accepted with the words “Oh yeah.” A recent debate among GOP Senate candidates featured so much embarrassing praise for Trump that it was a wonder none stopped the proceedings to get Trump’s name tattooed across their chest.
      • Ohio: In the Senate race, Trump endorsed author J.D. Vance, who recently said that if Trump becomes president again after 2024, he should “Fire every single mid-level bureaucrat, every civil servant in the administrative state” and “replace them with our people.” So he envisions some kind of authoritarian coup? He says that to accomplish the right’s goals, “we’re going to have to get pretty wild, and pretty far out there.” With Trump’s endorsement, Vance has vaulted to the head of the field.
      • Wisconsin: Republicans there are still investigating the 2020 election despite turning up nothing; their probe was scheduled to end, but after Trump threatened the speaker of the assembly with a primary challenge, he quickly announced that it would continue.
      • Michigan: Republicans just chose Matt DePerno and Kristina Karamo as nominees for attorney general and secretary of state. Both are vigorous election deniers, and Karamo has identified Beyoncé́, Cardi B, Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish, and the practice of yoga as tools of satanic influence in America today.

All this creates a deranged atmosphere, in which the looniest candidates rise to the top and extremism prevails.

Some of these candidates will probably lose … But some of them will probably win. What then?

Try to imagine Vance or Walker serving in the Senate. What will they do with themselves? The idea that they’ll be carefully analyzing national challenges and writing legislation to address concrete problems faced by their constituents is ludicrous.

It’s all performance politics all the time for air time on the Fox fascist propaganda network and OAN and Newsmax, etc. Republicans freely admit that they are a post-policy party. They are fighting with each other over whether or not to even have an agenda to offer voters. The “Grm Reaper of Democracy,” Mitch McConnell says “We don’t need an agenda. Elect us and see what happens.” The only agenda is to seize power and to fix it so that Republicans never relinquish power, ever again. The end of democracy for a GQP tyranny of the minority.

When you wade into the mire of Trump tributes and culture war signaling in Republican candidates’ ads, you can discern some things you might call “issues” — there’s mention of immigration, and gun rights, and gas prices. But the real common thread is fighting: GOP candidates want primary voters to know that they’ll fight and fight and fight.

They’ll fight Biden, they’ll fight the “radical left,” they’ll fight socialism. Governing is not a matter of solving problems, but of battling enemies. Will that unending struggle make anyone’s lives better? The question seems almost beside the point; what matters is whether the candidates hate the same things and the same people you do, and will bring that hatred to the state capital or to Washington.

As Adam Serwer explained, The Cruelty Is the Point:

Trump’s only true skill is the con; his only fundamental belief is that the United States is the birthright of straight, white, Christian men, and his only real, authentic pleasure is in cruelty. It is that cruelty, and the delight it brings them, that binds his most ardent supporters to him, in shared scorn for those they hate and fear: immigrants, black voters, feminists, and treasonous white men who empathize with any of those who would steal their birthright. The president’s ability to execute that cruelty through word and deed makes them euphoric. It makes them feel good, it makes them feel proud, it makes them feel happy, it makes them feel united. And as long as he makes them feel that way, they will let him get away with anything, no matter what it costs them.

If that’s what Republican politics is about, then there really isn’t a line a candidate can cross beyond which they become too extreme. Instead, extremism is proof of their willingness to wage unending war, which is what they think their voters want. That’s not to say the most extreme candidate always wins, but extremism is no bar to success.

And what all of them appear to be promising is a politics of unending opposition, even when it’s their turn to govern. If they have control of a governor’s office or Congress, their primary goal will be fighting [“owning“] the libs, always and forever.

To GQP voters, that might be just fine. But it’s a pretty grim view of the future.

UPDATE: Waldman’s piece was written before last night’s GQP debate in the new Congressional District 2 (Northeast Arizona).

Walt Blackman, a member of Arizona’s House of Representatives, Ron Watkins, a computer scientist, and Andy Yates, a small-business owner, debate the issues as they each make their case to represent Arizona’s Congressional District 2, which covers most of northern and eastern Arizona. The debate is sponsored by Clean Elections, your source for nonpartisan, official election information.

Arizona Right Wing Watch posted some highlights on its Twitter account. Ted Simon’s “Mr. Congeniality” moderating style is totally inappropriate for this collection of Big Lie election deniers. He needs to learn how to be aggressive and no nonsense, like Mike Wallace from 60 Minutes back in the day, or find someone else who is up to moderate these debates. Geesh!

Do your own research, Ted. A QAnon revelation suggests the truth of Q’s identity was right there all along: “The identity of Q, the supposed top-secret government operative and prophet of the extremist ideology QAnon, has for years been a fiercely debated mystery. But a possible slip-up in a new documentary suggests the answer was always the most obvious one: Ron Watkins, the longtime administrator of the message board 8kun, the conspiratorial movement’s online home.”

This freak is tied to the most destructive conspiracy theory cult in modern Ameircan history, and you are giving him a pass, because why exactly?

Rep. Walt Blackman was among 30 Republican lawmakers in Arizona who signed a joint resolution calling on Congress to block the state’s 11 electoral college votes for Biden and instead accept [see signatures] “the alternate 11 electoral votes for Donald J Trump”.

This was part of Trump’s Coup Plot devised by attorney John Eastman to create competing slates of “fake GQP electors” to throw the election into the House of Representatives where Trump would win because there are more Republican controlled states, and each state only gets one vote. All 30 Republican lawmakers in Arizona who signed this joint resolution are thus co-conspirators in Trump’s Coup Plot and aided and abetted his Coup Plot.

All 30 Republican lawmakers in Arizona who signed this joint resolution should be removed from office under 18 U.S. Code § 2383 – Rebellion or insurrection, 18 U.S. Code § 2384 – Seditious conspiracy, and section 3 of the 14th Amendment.

Rep. Blackman is now treating the violent seditious insurrectionists on January 6, 2021 as “patriots” and Ashli Babbit, the domestic terrorist who got shot while trying to climb through a broken window in a Congressional hallway as a martyr. That’s what this “Justice for J6” bullshit is all about. He is celebrating domestic terrorists. He is also signaling that he will be a willing participant in voting to overturn the next election if he is Congress in January 2025. Where’s the hard-hitting follow-up questions, Ted?

They openly admit that they are election deniers and promoters of Trump’s Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen, despite multiple audits in Arizona that proved the claim was false. This is disqualifying from holding office.

This is the pivot to the GQP’s 2022 midterm election strategy of anti-immigrant hysteria to stoke “white fright” among the GQP base.

To the women of Arizona: Rep. Blackman is  an anti-choice extremist. If you seek an abortion, via a procedure or  by medication, he wants to try you for murder (this will actually be the law in Arizona if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade) and assign you the death penalty – because he believes in the sanctity of life? This exposes the falsity of the fetus fetish extremist, they are not “pro-life,” they are anti-women.

What a shock. A climate change denier. Lake Powell is in CD 2. Lake Powell is tanking, and Interior’s proposed response may only buy us time:

If Lake Powell isn’t already doomed, it may soon be.

Insufficient runoff has put the reservoir on a quick and dangerous descent to 3,490 feet of elevation – a water level so low that Glen Canyon Dam’s hydropower turbines can no longer operate. A key part of the Western power grid would be lost.

The city of Page and the LeChee Chapter of the Navajo Nation also would lose their drinking water because the infrastructure that supplies them could no longer function.

Not to mention that if Powell falls to 3,490 feet, the only way millions of acre-feet of Colorado River water can flow past the dam and downstream to sustain Lake Mead – the reservoir on which Arizona relies – is through four bypass tubes, which have never handled that kind of volume, particularly for an extended period.

Engineers are concerned whether this setup can move enough water, especially if one or more of the tubes were damaged by heavy flows over time. If the bypass tubes move significantly less water than what the eight turbines do now, that could all but guarantee the demise of Lake Mead.

Ted Simon’s “Mr. Congeniality” – “Alright, that’s an interesting way to end a debate.” Seriously, Ted? No hard-hitting follow-up question about Lake Powell and a mega drought caused by climate change?

You call this a debate?  None of these radical extremist Republicans were held to account for their extremist views. The Arizona media is failing the voters of this state.