Some suggested reads for today:
E.J. Dione, Trump’s grip on power depends on splitting the nation in two
Jonathan Chait, However the Midterms Go, the Republican Party Is Going to Get More Extreme
James Russell Lowell, Once to Every Man and Nation
Abraham Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address
We gaze in horror at the scenes from Pittsburgh. Our hearts are heavy. We hold our breath as we wait for the election.
E.J. Dione writes,
The failure of Republican leaders to denounce a president who is devoting himself to ripping us apart reflects a ground-level truth about Republicanism in 2018: The party of Lincoln and Eisenhower has been consumed — temporarily, one devoutly wishes — by a narrow and exclusionary form of identity politics.
That which Dione devoutly wishes, Jonathan Chait is confident will not transpire:
“This is the play,” Scott Reed, a strategist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told the Washington Post. “It’s a standard tactic to use fear as a motivating choice at the end of a campaign, and the fact is the fork in the road is pretty stark.” …
The degree to which Trump’s party has molded itself in his image is worth bearing in mind when contemplating what the next two years might bring. If Democrats win the House but not the Senate, they will be working with an even more hardened foe: The Republicans who will have lost, or who are retiring, are those most vulnerable to outside pressure; the surviving core, from the reddest districts, will be the most Trumpian. They will be much less likely to abandon their president in the face of incriminating evidence than were Richard Nixon’s Republicans in 1974, and much more likely to escalate his attacks on the rule of law into a full-scale culture war.
And, of course, as Chait goes on to point out, one can only imagine the horror show that will ensue if, contrary to predictions, the Republicans make a clean sweep of the elections.
What Chait Gets Right, and What He Misses
He’s right to point out that the actual Republican agenda—upward distribution of wealth, drastic cutbacks to New Deal programs, and deprivation of health care—is dreadfully unpopular, and can only win by aligning itself with racists primed to believe its plethora of lies. But, IMHO, his analysis is misleadingly incomplete.
First of all, we the American people have a surprising amount of evil in us, but, taken as a whole, we are not nearly as evil as Trump damned soul believes.
Second, our collective gullibility takes away the breath, but even the highly gullible have limits to their credulity.
Third, the progressives among us are pumped up to a high degree.
In consequence, the election is likely to turn out well.
And, most of all, I place my confidence in the utter amorality of the Republican Party’s paymasters. See, e.g., Mr. Scott Reed, “strategist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: “This [racist hatemongering] is the play.”
When the lies don’t work, and the racist hatemongering can’t get you over the top, the plutocrats will not double down on their losing tactics. Instead, they will change their strategy.
The one percenters and their spokespuppets will remember what our elders used to tell us in my early days as a Wall Street lawyer: Don’t be a pig. Pigs get eaten for breakfast.
Chait predicts that the trumpiest Trumpian politicians in the reddest red states will survive the midterms. But I think the plutocrats are going to drop them like a hot potato, and instead find politicians to buy who might actually win elections.
It’s a hard time. The American Civil War was a hell of a lot worse. And so, for that matter, was the push to end legally required segregation.