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Get Ready for the Shitstorm That Will Follow the Arizona “Recount”

Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy’s plan for Arizona is the same as it was before January 6.
June 15, 2021
Get Ready for the Shitstorm That Will Follow the Arizona “Recount”

Your whole life, like a sandglass, will always be reversed and will ever run out again,—a long minute of time will elapse until all those conditions out of which you were evolved return in the wheel of the cosmic process. And then you will find every pain and every pleasure, every friend and every enemy, every hope and every error, every blade of grass and every ray of sunshine once more.

—Friedrich Nietzsche, “Notes on the Eternal Recurrence

At some point during our schooling we were all met with a frustrated social studies teacher who was forced to fall back on the old saw about how those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it in order to implore a class of checked-out brats that the history lesson before them is not without value to their imagined future lives as architects/importer-exporters.

Generally this argument is employed to make the case for learning the lessons of the Holy Roman Empire, or Cromwell, or some other travail of a long-dead Caucasian. But today I am the annoying teacher, the Republican party and its enablers are the checked-out students, and the historic event that they need to learn from happened all of six months ago.

In the months between Trump’s electoral schlonging and the January insurrection, the GOP establishment participated in the coup two-step, during which they tried to ignore Trump’s antics when they weren’t actively enabling it by just asking questions. This strategy was a failure of historic proportions, resulting in the disruption of America’s practice of peaceful transfers of power, a violent siege of the Capitol, and the deaths of their own supporters, who had bought the lies they were fed.

You would think this history lesson would be something Republicans might learn from.

But no.

Today the insurrection is ongoing and the next potentially violent inflection point will come in the weeks after the results of the Arizona “audit” are revealed. The audit, which is being conducted by the “Cyber Ninjas” and funded at least in part by my old pal Lin Wood, is set to deliver some type of result soon. The state senate’s audit “liaison” Ken Bennett (congrats on the fancy title, Ken) said that they expect the process will take most of the “rest of this month.”

Much like Trump’s Four Seasons Total Landscaping coup attempt, the Arizona audit is being ignored by Republican leaders such as Mitch McConnell and Kevin Mccarthy, who are not engaging on the subject publicly and privately consider it a shambolic sideshow. This while conservative allies dismiss those of us who are alarmed about the ongoing risks to democracy.

Meanwhile the whole Arizona circus is being taken deadly seriously by Trump himself—he called Republican pols who are ignoring the audit “weak”—and by his radicalized supporters who still want to “stop the steal.”

Doesn’t this all sound a little too familiar?

There’s more.

Activists in the QAnon movement have described the audit as the first step in “The Great Awakening.” And Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Kelli Ward has threatened “arrests” of those who did not comply with the audit. (N.B.: The Arizona Republican Party does not yet have the power to detain citizens for crimes against MAGA.)

One Arizona GOP precinct committeewoman, Gail Golec, has quit her job as a real estate agent to focus on uncovering “fraud” full-time, which she details on her Facebook and YouTube pages. One America News has hired a local propagandist, Christina Bobb, to “cover the audit”—while also fundraising for it.

Now that’s some journalisming.

Steve Bannon’s War Room, which was the official podcast of the “Stop The Steal” rallies last fall, is playing the same role in unofficial fashion in Arizona and has found an audience for the grift. (At the time of this writing, War Room was the tenth-biggest news podcast on the Apple charts.) The thirstiest and craziest MAGA Republicans around the country have all made the hajj to Maricopa to either learn how they can bring the insurrection to their states or signal their allegiance to primary voters. The frontrunner in the Missouri race to succeed the retiring Senator Roy Blunt, Eric Greitens, is the latest of this latter group.

Again, I ask: Doesn’t this all sound pretty fucking familiar?!!!

Sometime soon the results of the Arizona audit will be brought forth. It seems quite likely, given the participants, that the auditor ninjas will claim that Donald Trump won Arizona. Or probably won Arizona—who can say! Or would have won Arizona, if not for those meddling kids.

And if this happens, the former president and his MAGA media echo chamber will once again stoke the flames of insurrection. Q-adherents will convince themselves that one of the seven seals has been revealed. Millions (tens of millions) of Republicans throughout the country will believe it. And some of them will demand action.

So when the Arizona audit bell tolls, what exactly is McConnell and McCarthy’s plan?

Because it sure looks as though they are dooming us all to repeat the same history we just lived through, humoring Trump’s delusions and hoping that none of their supporters die in their imaginary fight for freedom this time.

Tim Miller

Tim Miller is The Bulwark’s writer-at-large and the author of the best-selling book Why We Did It: A Travelogue from the Republican Road to Hell. He was previously political director for Republican Voters Against Trump and communications director for Jeb Bush 2016.