On Tuesday, the Republican governor of Missouri, Mike Parson, failed to confirm his choice for director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. Perhaps, during a highly politicized pandemic and at a time of intense political polarization, this might seem unsurprising to you. “Of course, the Democrats will try anything to thwart a Republican governor!”, you might be thinking. “Of course, they will try to stop whatever anti-science, pro-virus candidate the Republicans put up!”
But this is not what happened. Parson’s preferred candidate, Donald Kauerauf, was rejected not by Democrats but by fellow Republicans. And they were incensed not because they believed Kauerauf would be too lax in his duty to protect the health of Missourians, but because they thought he would be too strict.
In a perfect demonstration of the deranged political times in which we live, Republicans took to the state senate floor to berate Kauerauf—once again, the selection of the conservative Republican governor—because they didn’t believe he was sufficiently opposed to mask and vaccine mandates.
You read that correctly: Kauerauf does oppose mask and vaccine mandates, but not fervently enough for some Republican members of the senate, who feel like he should have, I don’t know, said more times that he is against them?
This is what it’s like to live in a state with a Republican supermajority.
Our state politics is increasingly a battle between the wicked and the deranged: conservative Republicans are outmatched by even more conservative Republicans, who are so untethered from reality that not only do they not want the Department of Health to require that people wear masks, but won’t even confirm someone who has anything positive to say about them!
At some point, this bubble surely has to break, and principled conservatives have to stand up and take their party back from those who have so tortured it. Perhaps that’s what Gov. Parson was trying to do this week when he called the grandstanding by his fellow Republicans “disgraceful” and “unquestionably wrong.”
But after years of lies and misinformation poisoning the Grand Old Party, the question must be asked: are there enough of them left?