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The Missouri Torch

Duane Lester’s Missouri Torch.

Duane Lester has built a fantastic blog. The Missouri Torch captures the most important Missouri political news every day and sends you a convenient link list.

Plus, Duane’s original pieces are crisp, smart, witty, and dead on. And, like Rush Limbaugh, Duane is almost always right 99.872% of the time. Plus, the site design is elegantly miminalist, easy to navigate, and easy on the eye.

Good work, Mr. Lester.

P.S. I am not a paid sponsor and no one asked me to write this.



Surprised? Transportation Empowerment Act Was Ronald Reagan’s Idea—In 1967!


Last week I blogged that Ronald Reagan would love the Transportation Empowerment Act (TEA). I included audio of Reagan talking to Bill Buckley on Firing Line about the burden on states from onerous federal taxes and grants.

Forgive me, but that was sort of a tease. Here’s the meat: Reagan wrote a proposal for the Republican Governors’ Conference of 1967 to allow states to keep  about 2 percent of all federal taxes raised in the state. Ninety-eight percent would still go to Washington for defense and studies of monkey sex lives and whatever they do with money up there, but the states would retain two percent.

Here’s the Gipper:

Now, please call Ann Wagner’s Ballwin office and ask her to co-sponsor TEA. It’ll help her Heritage Action Score.

The Transportation Empowerment Act is the right way to deal with Missouri’s overwhelming bike path problems and provides a smart alternative to the biggest tax increase in Missouri’s history.

2 Awesome Military Stories for Independence Day Weekend

AT2 Jack Hennessy on Mighty MO

I love this video. And I’m going to ask you a small favor for my son Jack, so please read all.

WARNING: Strong Language

What’s So Great About It?

You have to love this American Army sergeant telling the Iraqi police how it is in strong language. Perhaps if the Iraqi police had listened, they wouldn’t be defending Baghdad against the Islamic State right now.

But they are.

I know some of you might object to this sergeant’s direct assault on these men’s manhood and character. Don’t be. Like Patton, this sergeant knows these men need to grow spines and to take responsibility for themselves, their comrades, and their country. Not because it’s cool, but because evil men will try to take their country–and their lives–from them.

This sergeant deserves a medal.

If You Don’t Get the Sergeant’s Speech, You Don’t Understand War

People who’ve never served might not understand that war is violent. The purpose of war is to break an enemy’s will to fight, to break down an enemy’s psyche so thoroughly that the enemy society cannot function without assistance from the victory.

Like the Democratic Party, the propose of war is to make a whole race of people completely dependent on others.

Unlike the Democratic Party, the US military tries to rehabilitate the vanquished society, restore its dignity, and help its people become independent, functioning, proud citizens of their reformed nation.

That means just war is morally superior to the Democrat Party, which Alexis de Tocqueville perfectly described 176 years ago:

Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications, and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent, if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks on the contrary to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing. 

AT2 Jack Hennessy on Mighty MO

AT2(AW) Jack Hennessy on USS Missouri at Pearl Harbor

Independence Day isn’t a furniture sale. It’s a commemoration of a nation’s rejection of the arbitrary rule of other men. July 4th symbolizes a bold American spirit that, like the sergeant in this video, will risk everything to live as free people, free from the tyranny of unlimited state power.

And some risk more than others.

Now My Real Purpose of This Post

That’s why I spent nine years on active duty and nearly three years submerged on a submarine—to preserve and protect our republic and her people.

And that’s why I’m so proud to tell you my son Jack is re-enlisting today, July 4, on board the USS Missouri in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Congratulations, Jack. And congratulations to the US Navy and to the United States.

Now for that small favor.

Would you mind leaving a short note to Jack in the comments of this blog post?

How Missouri Republicans Made Jay Nixon Look Like a Statesman

Elephant Dung

gop-elephant-dead_thumb.jpgYou know how reckless and tone-deaf Obama is about Army deserters? Missouri’s House and Senate Republican leaders are just as clueless and irresponsible about money.

Yes, I said it: the Missouri Republican legislature is about as conservative and principled as Susan Rice on a Sunday talk show.

By going on a votes-for-cash spending spree on the last day of the General Assembly, the House and Senate handed Jay “Idiot” Nixon a PR prize worth its weight in pork.

I’d itemize the garbage that our Republican legislators crammed into the budget, but Jay Nixon already did it for me, as quoted in The Missouri Times:

“While this Friday free-for-all will benefit a select few special interests, its far-reaching fiscal impact has thrown the budget dangerously out of balance,” Nixon said. “From special breaks for fast food restaurants to power companies, the only thing these giveaways have in common is that they were not accounted for in either the state budget or in the budgets of the cities, counties, and fire districts they would affect.  By going on a $776 million special interest spending spree, members of the legislature have broken their own budget, and I’m prepared to fix it.”

Jay Nixon will veto those outrageous giveaways, and I support that veto.

This Is How Majorities Are Lost

Think no one cares about the Missouri budget? Think again.

I was talking to a relative last week. “What’s going on with the Tea Party?” he asked. So the conversation shifted to politics. As I was telling him about our Tea Party/Heritage Action Social coming up on June 19, he interrupted.

“What the hell are those guys doing in Jefferson City?” he said. “It’s like a bunch of Tom Delays.”

BOOM! The idiotic spending and special favors that helped bring down the GOP majority in Congress in 2006 has infected Missouri Republicans now. And people know it.

Corruption Knows No Party

Missouri has about three fiscal conservatives in the Senate. Maybe a handful in the House. The free market folks in thedead-elephant.jpg Senate have some power to enforce principled fiscal responsibility. They’re outgunned and under-appreciated, but they do what they can. They’re likely to block a veto override on their own party’s folly.

The House is a different story. Because of House rules, members can either sell their votes to the highest bidders, as House leaders often demand, or they can sit out their sentences in feeble obscurity. In the Republican House, money talks and principle walks.

Arrogance Abounds

A friend of mine told me a story about his conversation with a former Republican State Representative. The Rep listed all the great pork projects and special tax breaks he’d managed to shove through for friends and donors. My friend was appalled.

“How is that different,” my friend asked, “than the Democrats doling out welfare for votes? How is what you’ve done not transferring wealth from one citizen to another?”

The Rep looked perplexed, as if my friend had asked, “since when is two plus two four?”

The Rep took a breath and said, “The difference is, we spread the money around to the right people.”

That’s the arrogance of power among Jefferson City Republican “leaders.”

They’re In It For The Wrong Reasons

Last year at a lobbyists’ reception for the Missouri House GOP contingent, a former Republican staffer (turned lobbyist) told a story.

He referred back to a time a decade or more earlier, when the GOP was struggling to take and hold the Legislature. A new class of Republican freshmen gathered in Jefferson City for orientation. Someone asked the group what their goals were in politics.

“One said he hopes to be Speaker,” the lobbyist said. “Another said Governor.” Some laughs. “One even said ‘President.'”

The speaker paused for effect. “Then someone said, ‘a hundred and nine elephants.'”

Pop the champagne! The crowd goes wild! The Republicans assembled went ridin’ into the bar, a-whoopin’ and a-stompin’. “A hundred and nine elephants! That’s a good one.”

Does it bother you that not a single member of that freshmen class of Republicans in the Missouri House expressed an ambition or vision that bigger than himself?

Wouldn’t you expect at least one member of every Republican class would say “make Missouri great?” Or “freedom?” Or “fairest tax state in the country?” Or “help my district?” Or “keep Washington off our backs?”

Nope. Not a one. Apparently, the Missouri Republican House members have no room for duty, responsibility, or altruism. Only for cynical self-interest. Their motto should be, “What’s in it for me?”

Reagan Never Left the Democrat Party


Before you bring up the 11th Commandment, consider this:

When Ronald Reagan made his famous speech on behalf of Barry Goldwater in 1964, the Gipper was still a Democrat. Endorsing the conservative Republican Goldwater over his own party’s sitting President was the ultimate act of betrayal.

But Reagan never saw it that way. “I didn’t leave that other party,” Reagan would say. “They left me.”

As a Republican, Reagan was just as willing to call out and undermine errant members of his own party. The 11th Commandment Brigades conveniently forget that Reagan ran against fellow Republican President Gerald Ford in 1976. Reagan’s remarkable challenge nearly toppled the sitting President at the convention in Kansas City. Reagan’s challenge further damaged Ford’s grip on the White House and undoubtedly contributed to Ford’s loss to Jimmy Carter in November. (Here’s a link to CSPAN’s great retrospective on the 1976 GOP Convention, beginning with Senator Paul Laxalt of Nevada naming California, Texas, Georgia, and MISSOURI as the four states supporting Nevada’s nomination of Reagan in compliance with convention rules.)

For Reagan, principle came before party. While I don’t know this for a fact, I have a strong suspicion that, were Reagan a member of that Missouri House freshmen class, his answer to the question “what do you hope to accomplish” would have been more visionary than “self-aggrandizement.”

Where Do Principled Conservatives Go Now?

Now that our nearly veto-proof Republican majority in Jefferson City has made Jay Nixon look like a statesman by comparison, where do principled conservatives go? Where do libertarians (with a lower-case “L”) go?

Every time Republicans in JC sell out to Prostitutes in Business Suits, free market conservatives rip another GOP bumper sticker off their cars. Every time a Republican Senator schemes into law a benefit for his own family, another libertarian-ish Millennial turns away. Every time the GOP tells us what a great thing China Hub (under whatever name) will be for Missouri, a small business owner loses faith in the American Dream.

Here it is 2014, an election year. Normally, I’d be gearing up to Beat. The. Democrats. But my heart’s not in it this year, if you want to know the truth. Why beat Democrats if Republicans will only borrow and tax to help their donors? Why knock doors and design Twitter GOTV campaigns if Missouri’s Republicans renew the Export-Import Bank of Boeing? Why work for a party that doesn’t even want our help? Or a party that takes us for granted the way the Democrats do African-Americans? Why support cronyism?

Look, I’m not ready to launch a new political party in Missouri. But I’m reading about the process. I didn’t jump back into the political game 2009 to re-instate the failed establishment practices of the 109th Congress–the one that kicked off a Democrat wave in 2006.

After the rush of that first Tea Party, I thought we were building a coalition to focus on the proper role of government–free markets, fiscal responsibility, constitutional limits, rule of law. Instead, the Republicans we’ve elected to represent us in Jefferson City and Washington have, by and large, reverted to big government establishment practices that reward their friends at the expense of the people.

America needs an Anti-Establishment Party. The Republican Party moved in that direction from Goldwater through Reagan. But, as Jack Kemp warned, with George H. W. Bush’s election, the Reagan Revolution ended.

The Republican Establishment Rejected the Tea Party

Elephant Dung

The Establishment and the Tea Party

When the GOP lay on its deathbed after the 2006 and 2008 elections, the Tea Party gave the Republican Party a heart transplant. The beast roared back to life, sweeping the 2010 election. Then, as is so common with transplants, the host rejected the new organ.

I am still on a mission to build and support an anti-establishment party. It could still be the GOP, but it’s no longer my job to reform the Republicans. They’re old enough and rich enough to reform themselves.

My job is, as a cell in this viable heart, to find a qualified recipient–a party that will accept the principles on which our republic was founded.

If you’d like to share in that mission, please come to Scarecrow on June 19 at 6:30 p.m.

Shane Schoeller Is The New MOGOP Executive Director And That’s Great News For Missouri Republicans


Shane Schoeller narrowly missed winning the job he and I wish he had: Missouri Secretary of State. Shane lost—along with every other non-incumbent Republican for a statewide office.

Missouri GOP Executive Director Shane Schoeller

Shane Schoeller becomes the new Missouri Republican Party Executive Director. Party Chairman Ed Martin made the announcement on February 28, 2013

The good news is that Missouri Republican Chairman, Ed Martin, has tapped Shane Schoeller as the party’s Executive Director.

There were some fabulous candidates under consideration, which made the selection process difficult.

“Shane’s a good solid conservative and he has connections across the state,” Ed Martin told me by phone this morning. I agree.

Those connection will be important after the disastrous 2012 election. Despite success in growing their numbers in the Missouri legislature, Republicans lost every statewide race except Lieutenant Governor.

Ed Martin and Shane have a huge job in front of them, and it won’t be easy. The GOP Establishment has shown little interest in seeing them succeed. Meanwhile, the grassroots movement of 2009 and 2010 feels exhausted after keeping an unappreciative GOP alive for four years—with little help from the party itself.

I wish Shane all the best. It won’t be easy, but I’m ready to help him succeed.

Now read Shane Schoiller’s op-ed in today’s Missouri Times

Ed Martin’s Grit Overwhelms Establishment’s Power

In a blow to the old guard establishment, the Missouri Republican State Committee elected Ed Martin Jr. as its new party chairman.

Ed Martin Addresses First St. Louis Tea Party 2-27-2009

Roy Blunt and all six Republican members of Congress from Missouri lobbied the new state committee over the past few weeks to block Ed and retain the establishment’s choice, David Cole. Jo Mannies of the St. Louis Beacon wrote:

Cole’s loss appears to be a setback for Missouri’s GOP establishment. U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt and all six Missouri Republicans in the U.S. House had signed a letter backing Cole’s re-election.

Martin’s win was seen as a victory for the Missouri GOP’s more conservative factions, including some tea party groups – notably the St. Louis Tea Party, whose founder Bill Hennessy had endorsed Martin.

The victory demonstrates the power of grit—one of Ed Martin’s most valuable qualities. Ed narrowly lost his bid to unseat former Congressman Russ Carnahan in 2010.  In that race, Ed came closer than any Republican in recent memory to taking Missouri’s old 3rd District away from Democrats. Ed’s gritty campaign solidified his standing with grassroots tea partiers.

Grit is the most important factor in success according to human behavioral scientists. As Jonah Lehrer explains:

After analyzing the data, Duckworth discovered the importance of a psychological trait known as grit. In previous papers, Duckworth has demonstrated that grit can be reliably measured with a short survey that measures consistency of passions (e.g., ‘‘I have been obsessed with a certain idea or project for a short time but later lost interest’’) and consistency of effort (e.g., ‘‘Setbacks don’t discourage me’’) over time using a 5-point scale. Not surprisingly, those with grit are more single-minded about their goals – they tend to get obsessed with certain activities – and also more likely to persist in the face of struggle and failure. Woody Allen famously declared that “Eighty percent of success is showing up”. Grit is what allows you show up again and again.

 Ed put in the 10,000 hours of practice. His dogged campaigns in 2010 and 2012 gave him the courage and earned him the privilege to show up.

After losing his bid to unseat Attorney General Chris Koster last November, a lot people wanted Ed to give up politics. But Ed’s no quitter. Instead, he rallied his considerable charm and tenacity to take on a role that is well suited to Ed Martin’s skill and experience.

Missouri’s Democrats and even some conservatives mockingly said “Ed  finally won an election.” The Democrats should be very worried that a talent as gritty and popular as Ed Martin now chairs the Missouri GOP. Conservative might want to review Abraham Lincoln’s electoral history before mocking the resilience of a man who never gives up.

Congratulations, also, to Trish Vincent, Auditor Tom Schweich’s chief of staff, elected Chairwoman, or co-chair in today’s PC-speak. And a special congratulations and thanks to Frieda Keogh of Missouri Precinct Project and a new member of the Republican State Committee. Frieda’s efforts to advance grassroots causes and candidates is a gift to Missouri and America.

Did Lloyd Smith and Jo Ann Emerson Plan This All Along?

In an open Republican primary in Missouri’s 8th Congressional District, a solid conservative would beat an establishment “my turn” Republican, hands down. And the Missouri GOP would hate it.

That’s why I smell a rat.

Would you be surprised to learn that Jo Ann Emerson and Lloyd Smith had this switcheroo planned months ago?  You have to admit that the timing is suspicious:

  • Emerson wins a certain re-election
  • Smith announces he’s stepping down as Missouri GOP Executive Director
  • Emerson announces she’s resigning to become Queen of Lobbyists
  • Missouri’s GOP Establishment breaks hips to tell reporters “Lloyd Smith’s our man!”

This is exactly how the Republican establishment does things.  They think the people of MO-8 are too stupid to pick the right candidate in a primary, so they make backroom deals  to appoint a deal-maker for them.


If that’s what’s going on here, It’s disgraceful.   Missouri’s 8th deserves better, but I’ve heard from sources that Emerson waited to announce her resignation until Smith was confident he had the votes among 8th District Republican committeemen and committeewomen to cost into the job.

You think Lloyd Smith tats will be the rage at SEMO next semester?

I’m sure Mr. Smith is a good guy. I have nothing against him as a person, and I’m sure he’s done some good for conservatives in his career.

I’m also pretty sure it’s his turn. Just like it was Mitt Romney’s turn. And John McCain’s. And Bob Dole’s.  And Gerald Ford’s.

America doesn’t need the next guy in line, and the GOP can’t afford another me-too, milquetoast faceless name in Congress.

At a time when the GOP desperately needs to energize some young people and excite its conservative base, I find it unfathomable that anyone would even mention Lloyd Smith.

Energy? Leadership? Charisma? Action? Accomplishment?

As Missouri GOP’s executive director, Smith failed to flip a single statewide office in 2012 even with Romney winning 54% of the vote.

Moreover, Smith was frozen by the Akin fiasco, doing nothing to contain the damage. He couldn’t keep Republicans from bashing Akin, and he couldn’t get Akin to gracefully exit.

You Can’t Squeeze A Union Card Between Lloyd Smith and Jo Ann Emerson

Smith was Jo Ann Emerson’s chief of staff.  That’s about the most damning thing one can say about a Republican operative.

Jo Ann Emerson’s specialty has been handing out your tax dollars to businesses and unions who hand them back to her. How fitting that she resigns from Congress weeks after being re-elected to become a lobbyist for one of the beneficiaries of Emerson’s crony capitalism gravy train.

John Fund at National Review writes:

In her congressional career, she often shied away from stringent budget-cutting measures and privately deplored bans on earmarks. In 2011, the National Journal found that she was only the 200th most conservative member of the House.

And remember, Lloyd Smith was her chief of staff. Here’s a few more highlights of Emerson’s miserable Washington career:

So why has the liberal Emerson kept her job in a very conservative Congressional District?


And, if there was backroom deal to replace Emerson with Smith or some other party boy, it’s because there’s no way Smith would win an open primary.

But once he’s in, he’s in for life.

I hope grassroots conservatives in MO-8 put a lot of pressure on the 80 Republican Committeemen and Committeewomen. The GOP will throw a lot of favors, offers, and promises their way to get the appointment they want.

This will be a test of whether or not the Tea Party has any clout at all in Missouri.

Every Election Counts

Next Election:  4 weeks from today.


I need a favor.  This will only take you a minute (tops), but it’s very important that you do it right now. 

I will step you through it.

1.  Get a pen or pencil and something to write on—preferably a journal or appointment calendar.

2. Go to April 5, 2011,  or write April 5, 2011, if not using a calendar or dated journal.

3. Under April 5, write the following:

     a.  Election Day

     b.  My polling place is:  [name it]

     c.  I plan to vote [time of day]

     d. I will be coming from [place] and will take [major road/highway]

     e.  Immediately before voting, I will be [what you’ll be doing—work, fixing breakfast, taking kids to school, etc.]

     f.  Come hell or high water, though, I will vote on April 5

There.  You’re done.  You’ve developed a personal voting plan to ensure you don’t forget to vote on April 5. 


L.K. Wood for County Assessor - Saint Louis CountyIf you live in St. Louis County, Chip Wood is the conservative Republican running for the newly created office of Assessor.  I like Chip Wood because he’s a no-nonsense, grassroots conservative like me.  He will make sure property taxes in the county are fair.

Jesse Irwin - Candidate for 10th Ward Alderman - St. Louis, MO

If you live in the city, Jesse Irwin is running a fabulous campaign for 10th Ward Alderman.  I like Jesse because he can represent all of the people of 10th Ward to help stop the city’s population hemorrhage.  



Oh, and one more little favor.  Get 5 of your friends to make their voting plans today because every election counts toward restoring the American republic.

McCaskill’s Call to Fight

I’m getting a lot of requests to pump news about Claire McCaskill’s comments to Democrats. According to Brian R. Hook of Missouri Watchdog, McCaskill gave Democrats a set of instructions very similar to those I usually give at the end of Tea Party rallies.  (Only Claire’s instructions seem a bit less human than mine.)

Some national political scientists believe McCaskill’s Senate seat is one of the most vulnerable in 2012. 

Republicans Sarah Steelman and Ed Martin Jr., who came within an eyelash of upsetting Russ Carnahan in last year’s race for Missouri’s 3rd US Congressional District, have announced their candidacies for the right to oppose McCaskill. 

A primary challenge for McCaskill is not out of the question, but no Democrats have offered to challenge McCaskill so far.

Friday Happy Hour

Dana Loesch on facebook gave kudos to Missouri State Senators Nieves and Lembke for fighting a federal bribe to the states. 

Major props to Brian Nieves and Jim Lembke for their continued commitment to conservatism in the MO Senate with HB 163 – refusing federal funds for another unemployment extension that costs taxpayers $81 million. They’re standing their ground against some of their fellow GOP who need to be reminded what fiscal conservatism is. Bravo.

I join Dana. For the second time this year, these two have stood guard against more federal borrowing against my kids. 


Please call or write the Senators to thank them for their principled courage.  And if you don’t have the good fortune of living in one of their districts, call or write your Senator and asking him or her to join Nieves and Lembke in their fight against Washington bribes.

Senator Brian Nieves:  (573) 751-3678

Senator Jim Lembke;  (573) 751-2315 EMail

*CORRECTED* You Can Help Right a Massive Wrong

*CORRECTION & APOLOGY* I am so sorry to you and to Senator Eric Schmitt for misrepresenting his position on HB466.  Senator Schmitt’s office tells me that he has no intention of filibustering this bill. He went on to say that he agrees in principle with the bill’s intent and may actually support it, depending on the language. 

Please accept my apology and help me make it right.  Please call or write Senator Schmitt’s office (below) and tell him Thank You.  Thanks for letting HB466 come to a vote, thanks for remaining open to supporting the bill, and thanks for graciously accepting Hennessy’s apology for jumping the gun.

**Original Story**

How would you feel if your employer took money from your paycheck and gave it to a candidate you despised or an issue you opposed?

I’d be outraged if someone used my money for their political ends.

The Missouri House is set to pass HB 466—a bill that would allow Missouri workers to decline participation in their unions’ political activities.

Yes, that’s right.  Currently, union workers are required to give their wages to candidates and causes they personally oppose.

HB 466 would right a terrible, un-America wrong.

The problem is that two Republican Senators say they intend to filibuster the bill when it gets to the Senate.

Does it make sense to that a politician of any party would oppose your right to support the candidates and causes of your choice?

Let’s help these two State Senators understand that we will not have our money pried from our wallets for causes we oppose.

Call or email these gentlemen RIGHT NOW and politely tell them: Do not filibuster or threaten to filibuster HB 466 in the Senate.

Eric Schmitt: (573) 751-2853 *NOT FILIBUSTERING: See Top of Page*
Kevin Engler: (573) 751-3455

5 Follow Ups:

1.  After you call or email, go to twitter and facebook and post, “I asked #MO Senators Schmitt and Engler to let the senate decide HB466

2.  Ask 5 friends to call, email, tweet, and post just like you did.

3.  Come back to this page and comment on what you’ve done.

4. If the Senators comply, support them.  Send a thank you note via email, and this note on twitter and facebook: “Thank you, Senator [name] for letting the Senate decide to protect #MO workers’ rights”

5.  If either or both Senators continues to threaten to filibuster, stand by.

Remember, it’s not enough to criticize when a politician does wrong.  We need to thank and support them when they do right.  They are, after all, people.

*UPDATE* I heard that Sen. Schmitt’s assistant seemed very surprised to hear about our concern.  I’d love to announce that I was wrong about my concern, and I will if Senator Schmitt announces he has no intention of filibustering.

DISAPPOINTING: Missouri House Leadership Blowing it

I continue hearing reliable reports that the GOP Leadership in the Missouri House keeps its boot on the throat of  Tea Party freshmen.

What a shame.

The party that was flat on its back from 2006 to 2009 rose back to power because of the tea party. But, it seems, the Missouri branch of the party didn’t get the message.  And its Speaker in the Missouri House has become tighter with left-fringe Democrats that with conservatives of his own party.

Maybe tea party legislators need a Tea Party Caucus in Jefferson City.

If the Missouri House Republican leaders don’t get the message soon, their big majority will disappear in the blink of an eye, and statewide Republican candidates will pay the price.

So will our country.