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The Flare in Clare: A kick (literally & figuratively) to the Michigan GOP’s balls

Clare is a pleasant mid-Michigan town that boasts a shamrock on its water tower, a below-ground speakeasy with an inviting menu, and the flagship store of Cops and Doughnut.

It’s also home to the venerable Hotel Doherty. Or, as it’s known to state Republicans, the Fight Club.

Perhaps you’ve heard the stories. Such as a week ago when fisticuffs among party bigwigs broke out in the hotel lobby outside a locked meeting room where the state party chairperson, who campaigned on a platform of transparency, was doing her best to not explain why no one, including the treasurer, gets to see the party’s finances.

When one of the meeting attendees went to see who was jiggling the handle of the locked door, he said he was greeted by a kick “to the balls” and then sent sprawling into furniture where he suffered a broken rib and a chipped tooth. He’s pressing charges against his alleged assailant, a Wayne County Republican Party official who claims he was acting in self-defense after the other man’s menacing figure forced him to take off his glasses.

I am not making any of this up.

This melee took place a few yards from the hotel’s outdoor patio where last April two women Republican officials got into their own kerfuffle. That dispute was the result of an argument about which woman gets to wear the Handmaid’s costume at the next state party convention.

Okay, I may have made part of that up.

Jokes aside, it’s no laughing matter to see that one of the state’s major political parties has installed as its leader an election-denier who not only won’t concede her landslide loss in the 2022 Secretary of State race but who, among other things, claims that Beyonce’ used her latest album to recruit Blacks into paganism, who says “demonic possession” is both real and transferred via “intimate relationships,” who has suggested that the media be rounded up, killed, and put in concentration camps, who says that acceptance of gay Americans will lead to pedophilia, and who says that yoga is a “satanic ritual.”

Okay, she may have a point on that last one.

Republicans have no one to blame but themselves. For decades they have countenanced, winked at, and openly courted the worst type of behavior for cynically opportunistic purposes. Either by calculation or by cowardice they kept their mouths shut when minority voices in their party said evil and vile things about gays, Blacks, Muslims, or any “other” who could be demonized and exploited for victories in local elections. Then they took those victories and gerrymandered districts that encouraged primary candidates to move further and further to the radical fringes.

Now those fringes are the face and center of the party. Those who supposedly know better are too scared, too powerless, and too cynical to speak out. That’s why you see them wink and nod at election conspiracy theories, that’s why you hear them claim that Democrats are trying to groom children into sexual depravity, that’s why they claim that teachers are conspiring to teach – wait for it – actual history.

That’s why all six Michigan Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have already endorsed for president a man who encouraged the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, who lied about the seriousness of the Covid epidemic, who lies repeatedly that the 2020 election was fraudulent, who stood by in approval as his vice president was nearly lynched, and who openly brags about grabbing pussies, as well as admitting a not-so-secret desire to date his daughter.

State and local Republicans have played this game and now their party is run by people who believe that crap is true. The guy accused of the ball-kicking in Clare earlier gained notoriety when he was pictured at a rally holding up a naked Barbie doll with a rope around its neck. He said the rope represented the rope that should be around the neck of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Despite that, he was a member in good standing of the Wayne County Republicans – at least he was until the Clare flare-up.

Actually, it might be a good thing if it turns out to be true that a party official was indeed kicked in the balls. It would be evidence that at least one Republican in the state actually owns a pair.

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