Tuesday, September 28, 2021


Jamelle Bouie recalls that many Very Smart People assumed Donald Trump wouldn't try to subvert democracy in 2020.
“What is the downside for humoring him for this little bit of time? No one seriously thinks the results will change,” an anonymous senior Republican official told The Washington Post a few days after Joe Biden claimed victory:
He went golfing this weekend. It’s not like he’s plotting how to prevent Joe Biden from taking power on Jan. 20. He’s tweeting about filing some lawsuits, those lawsuits will fail, then he’ll tweet some more about how the election was stolen, and then he’ll leave.
Bouie thinks Trump's willingness to do damage to democracy is being underestimated again.
Despite the danger at hand, there doesn’t appear to be much urgency among congressional Democrats — or the remaining pro-democracy Republicans — to do anything. The Democratic majority in the House of Representatives has passed a new voting rights act aimed at the wave of restrictive new election laws from Republican state legislatures, and Democrats in the Senate have introduced a bill that would establish “protections to insulate nonpartisan state and local officials who administer federal elections from undue partisan interference or control.” But as long as the Senate filibuster is in place — and as long as key Democrats want to keep it in place — there is almost no chance that the Senate will end debate on the bill and bring it to the floor for a simple majority vote.

It’s almost as if, to the people with the power to act, the prospect of a Trumpified Republican Party with the will to subvert the next presidential election and the power to do it is one of those events that just seems a little too out there.
Bouie compares this to the period just before the start of the Civil War.
... as the historian Russell McClintock writes in “Lincoln and the Decision for War: The Northern Response to Secession,” “Republicans showed no anxiety about disunion before the election and remarkably little after it.” ...

... “South Carolina may fume and fulminate, and call conventions and pass resolutions till the crack of doom,” wrote one correspondent in The Chicago Tribune, but “up to this writing nobody is scared that we know of.”

Similarly, wrote a like-minded Boston editor, “Almost the only topic of political interest just now, is the rumored insane attempt of a few hotheaded fanatics, to induce the people of a few slave states to secede from the American Union. There is in this nothing new, unexpected, or alarming.”
Bouie is right that there's a similar lack of alarm -- but in this case, I don't think it's based on a belief that the hotheads will necessarily behave nicely. I think Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema, and other filibuster-defending Democrats believe that, while preserving democracy would be nice, it's not as important as preserving the almost limitless wealth of billionaires. And as for Senate Republicans, preserving their own party's power (and with it the wealth of the rich) is a goal to be attained by any means they can get away with.

The Democratic filibuster defenders in the Senate have lived through a Trump presidency -- it wasn't that bad, was it? January 6 was no fun, but if there's another January 6, the work of flipping votes will be done by state legislatures whose work will be ratified by Republican-appointed judges; it won't need to be done by rioters. It'll all be based on law. So why get worked up?

Democracy is fine, but coddling the rich is important. The defenders of the status quo don't want too much democracy because they're afraid real Democrats will win too many elections -- not just progressives, but moderate-seeming Democrats who support a real expansion of the social safety net. That's seen as much more of a danger than the end of fair elections in America. So the end of democracy in America seems like a risk well worth taking.

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