Two Reads for Today
Here’s what the landscape on the right looks like at the moment. First, you have tens of millions of Trump supporters who are convinced not only that the election was stolen from Trump (one recent poll found 52 percent of Republicans said Trump “rightfully won”) but also that there are still means by which the conspiracy can be exposed and Trump returned to office.
Then you have the activists, officials and media figures who have committed themselves to promoting these lies, knowing that when it comes to the currency that sustains them — money or ratings — the story of the stolen election is absolute gold.
Finally, you have the slightly more responsible elected officials who have reached the limit of what they’re willing or able to do to help Trump, such as the Georgia secretary of state who refuses to say he presided over a fraudulent election or the Michigan legislators turning back Trump’s demand that they hand him the state’s electoral votes. And in state after state, the second group is attacking the third group for insufficient commitment to keeping the fiction of a stolen election alive.
Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the presidential election have met with defeat in every swing state and in nearly every court where his cases have been heard. But Trump’s campaign to pressure GOP elected officials to support his baseless claims of a rigged election — and his success in convincing a majority of the party that widespread voter fraud occurred — is already showing signs ofhaving far-reaching effects that will reshape the Republican Party for years to come.
State party chairs are tearing into their governors. Elected officials are knifing one another in the back. Failed candidates are seizing on Trump’s rhetoric to claim they were also victims of voter fraud in at least a half dozen states.
As his presidency comes to a close, Trump has not only imprinted his smash-mouth style on the GOP, he has wrenched open the schism between the activist class and the elected class, according to interviews with more than a dozen Republican Party officials and strategists in the states.
Assume You are a Republican Politician. Assume You Have No Scruples. But I Repeat Myself.
As we learned two or three days ago, of the 249 Republicans in the House of Representatives, two of them (8/10 of 1 percent) claim Trump won the election, 27 (11 percent) acknowledge that Biden won, and 200 (80 percent) claim not to know or otherwise dodge the question.
Let us pose some thought experiments, beginning with this one: Are the 200 ignorami acting in good faith, and if they are not acting in good faith, what are they trying to accomplish.
I shall answer: No, gentle reader, they are not acting in good faith. They are shucking and jiving in an effort to try to not to displease the portion of their base that is at least minimally attached to reality, or the other portion of their base that is batshit crazy.
Next question: Can this situation long endure?
The answer: no, it cannot long endure. Because, very soon, shucking and jiving will piss off both parts of your base.
You will have to choose one camp, or you will have to choose the other camp, or you will have to resign yourself to leaving a career of public service and resume your form occupation, selling used cars.
And when will this fateful choice be forced upon these 200 estimable public servants?
Answer: Probably on January 6, if not before, because January 6 is when Congress assembles in joint session to count the electoral votes.