We should pay attention to what just went down in Alaska this week.
A delegation of Republican legislators physically left the capital to divide the legislature in advance of a tough vote. This is a tactic tried by a wingnut delegation of Oregon Republicans a few weeks ago — it worked for them and so wingnuts around the country learned a new thing to do when public process gets in the way of ideology: just walk away from democracy and let it burn.
In Oregon the fallout was that compromise climate legislation was left hanging.
In Alaska the fallout is that we enter economic no man’s land as 4,000+ jobs evaporate, the university system declares exigency, and thousands of vulnerable people lose life-saving healthcare, early childhood care, elder care, shelter, domestic violence services, and other programs.
Despite unprecedented, bipartisan uproar and outrage across Alaska this week, the gang of truants I’ll call the “Wasilla Wingnuts” pulled out the Trump playbook and justified their shaky legal standing with propaganda and twisted messaging. Aptly, they beamed this via Facebook live out of a middle school in Sarah Palin’s home town. In keeping with the times, their followers live in one media landscape, the real world lives in another. The bifurcation provides just enough social license to protect a stubborn minority. But there is still only one world and consequences will impact all Alaskans as vital services dry up across the state.
Because Alaska is a banana republic where oil is the bananas — one big Conoco company town — there are some winners in this scenario. The billionaire CEOs of oil corporations will continue to enjoy annual tax breaks that happen to equal Alaska’s annual budget shortfall. Some of this largesse does and will trickle down… at least into the pockets of the political propagandists, puppets, and pawns that the powers that be use to control the state’s economy.
The score on this middle school tactic now is Wingnuts — 2, Democracy — 0. You can bet they’ll try it again somewhere else as soon as they can.