Saturday, December 07, 2019


So I'm at the New York Times site and I'm reading "G.O.P. Tactic on Impeachment: Turn Ukraine Allegations Against Biden" by Katie Glueck and Maggie Haberman, and it's all pretty much what I expect from the headline: The president wants Joe Biden to be the one in the dock rather than himself, some Democrats are worried about this prospect because it reminds them of what happened to Hillary Clinton in 2016, blah blah blah.

I'm quietly reading along and then I come to this:
The [Trump] campaign believes its message about Ukrainian corruption will help them even if Mr. Biden is not the nominee — that it can be used to associate Democrats with a status quo that Mr. Trump ran against in 2016, and is hoping to again.
Wait -- what? "Status quo"? How do Democrats represent the "status quo" in December 2019? Donald Trump has been president for three years. Trump is the "status quo."

Was this is a phrase Glueck and Haberman heard from someone in Trump's campaign, or did they use it because it just seemed appropriate to them? Either way, it's infuriating -- and it reinforces the message Republicans have (dishonestly) run on for nearly forty years.

Since January 20, 1981, Republicans have held the White House longer than Democrats have. The House and Senate have been Republican for more years than they've been Democratic. And the Supreme Court has been Republican for decades.

And yet when an incumbent Republican president is running for reelection, with a Republican Senate and a Republican Supreme Court, he can be described as running against the "status quo" and that's not seen as odd.

It's because political insiders have internalized the notion that Republicans are always insurgents and iconoclasts, even when they've been in power for years, while Democrats are always the Establishment, even when they're the out party. This isn't new. We heard this in the Reagan years as well. Republicans, especially movement-conservative Republicans, are always the party of change. Democrats are always the party of stasis.

The reason is obvious: Democrats believe government can do good. They believe in structures and institutions that endure in order to help people. Republicans want to smash everything -- that didn't extend as far under Reagan, Gingrich, and the Bushes as it does now, but it's been part of the GOP message for a long time.

But after a while, the GOP's regular use of the wrecking ball becomes the status quo. That's where we are now.

Glueck and Haberman don't see it. I hope voters do. I hope they recognize that dumping Trump and the GOP would be change.

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