Tuesday, October 08, 2019


"I never use the words Democrats and Republicans. It's liberals and Americans."

--James Watt, Ronald Reagan's first interior secretary, November 1981

The enemy here isn't "the House of Representatives," or Adam Schiff's House Intelligence Committee. The enemy is the Democratic Party. Ambassador Sondland can't testify in front of a Democratic-led congressional panel, but Rudy Giuliani (who's already told us he won't cooperate with the Intelligence Committee's investigation) is welcome to testify before a friendly committee.

This is not how our government is supposed to work -- but it's how Republicans believe it should work. Trump, Graham, and Giuliani are just taking the idea to its logical conclusion, as Corey Lewandowski did when he spoke freely to Republican questioners on the House Judiciary Committee while clamming up and sassing off whenever a Democrat questioned him.

Over the past forty years, Republicans have increasingly come to believe that Democrats are not citizens. This helps explain the voter ID laws, voter purges, polling-place closures, and gerrymandered districts that limit the ability of Democrats to win elections. It explains, more than any nonsense rhetoric about America being "a republic, not democracy," why Republicans so vehemently defend the Electoral College (California and New York aren't "real" American states). It explains Republicans' efforts to restrict the power of elected Democratic governors in Wisconsin and North Carolina. It explains Mitch McConnell's deep reluctance to fight foreign interference in our elections -- as long as it's on the side of Republicans, it's fine, because only Republicans are Americans.

This is self-interest, of course -- Republicans want to win, and clearly they're willing to win by any means necessary. But they have no fear of a public backlash because their base has been told for decades by the right-wing media that Democrats aren't really citizens -- and the mainstream press piles on, lavishing Trump voters with attention (as "security moms" and other Bush voters were lavished with attention fifteen years ago) and strongly suggesting, to a broad general audience, that conservative heartland whites are normative and Democrats are aberrant.

After Republicans won three straight presidential elections in the 1980s, much of the elite political world acted as if it was a reasonable set of beliefs. Sunday morning talk shows still book more Republicans than Democrats for this reason. Maybe things are changing. Maybe the public is no longer quite so willing to believe this. But if changes are happening, they can't happen fast enough.

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