By Alexander Lomax
Specifically in the social media age, it is common in politics to whip your base into a frenzy. After all, they are more inclined to become your foot soldiers and to spread the good word if you get them all nice and fired up. That’s all well and great, but when that genie is out of the bottle you won’t get it back in. And you can’t always control the mood of the genie after it’s been out for a while. This is precisely the conundrum that LD3 State Rep. Joseph Chaplik (and the greater Republican party as a whole) find himself in these days.
The perfect example of this is Chaplik’s recent letter to members of the LD3 GOP, where he feels the need to explain his actions as the Chair of the House Ethics Committee in referring former Representative Liz Harris’s actions to a larger vote for expulsion.
As a reminder, Harris paraded a bizarre presentation to the larger dais about how Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel has bought out half of the governing bodies of Arizona, including Governor Hobbs, most of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, much of the legislature, much of the courts…all from a local real estate agent on behalf of her boyfriend who took the word of an ex-wife.
Truly insane stuff to anyone on the inside. Truly unhinged. And Chaplik didn’t even strongly denounce these actions, but simply did his job as the Chair of a committee. But ooooh boy, the backlash was swift and immediate.
And this is the current crisis with the GOP, with the bullseye being right here in Arizona. It started with Pizzagate and QAnon, transitioned right into the elections being stolen and has manifested and grown into heights even strangers than Pizzagate. It could have been nipped in the bud by President Trump, but it wasn’t, and instead it was back-channel approved and disseminated by some of his powerful supporters and consultants in the name of near-term victories.
Now the genie can’t be put back in the bottle. A large percentage of the Arizona electorate believes at least parts of these absurdities, as does much of America. And Chaplik has been more than happy to stoke that anger, to play off those perceived uncertainties. It helped get him elected after all. But now…whoops. Now plenty of people think that he is part of “the swamp”.
Can this be reversed? Probably not anytime soon. This current collective psychosis may take several election cycles to die out, if it ever does. Perhaps it morphs into something even worse. But hopefully this serves as a cautionary tale…you might think that you can control that genie, but once it’s out of the bottle, it’s out of your hands.