The lies & autocracy party

Trump lost but the Republican party remains the Republican party.

Today, to be an aspiring Republican politician in good standing, one must espouse a set of core beliefs that are either entirely baseless or provably untrue: the climate crisis isn’t real; gun safety laws don’t reduce gun violence; masks don’t reduce the spread of Covid-19. To many observers, embracing a conspiracy theory about corrupted voting machines or late-night “ballot dumps” would represent a break with reality. But for much of the Republican elite, that’s not a problem. They broke with reality long ago.

The Republican establishment is also increasingly willing to disenfranchise eligible voters if it helps them win. Between 2008 and 2016, America lost 10% of its polling places, with cuts falling hardest on minority communities. Ever-broader voter purges have kicked millions of eligible, registered voters off red-state voting rolls.

Republican gerrymandering has created bizarrely shaped districts that put goons like Jim Jordan in Congress.

These examples barely scrape the surface of the war on voting that Republican politicians, not just Trump, have waged in recent years. The president’s wild attempt to steal an election is a first in American history. But it didn’t come from nowhere. Trump simply absorbed his party establishment’s prevailing view – that it is acceptable to win elections through whatever means possible, including by throwing out large numbers of votes on technicalities, hoping conservative judges put ideology over country, or stoking fears about nonexistent fraud – and took that approach to its logical conclusion.

It’s commendable that a handful of Republicans stood up to a president and met the low bar he presented. But it’s not enough. Those who have admirably protected the American experiment from Trump must help America save it from the McConnell-era Republican party. That doesn’t mean Republicans need to change their minds about taxes, regulations, guns, or a host of other a host of other issues that divide the parties. But they do have to agree that democracy is the best way to settle our disagreements – and that those who don’t believe in democracy doesn’t deserve our votes, no matter how much we may support their other positions.

It’s pretty clear that’s not going to happen though.

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