• Mon. Jan 18th, 2021

Abbreviated pundit roundup: Trump's attacks on democracy


Dec 22, 2020

We begin today’s roundup with Tom Nichols at The Atlantic and his call to refuse to engage with or profile anti-democratic Trump supporters:

[O]rdinary people worn out by the dramas and lies of the past four years have a right to refuse to take Trump’s most enthusiastic supporters seriously. To reject further debate with people whose views are completely incoherent is not only understandable, but sensible. […]

I am talking about the people who are giving Trump their full-throated support to the very end, even as he mulls a military coup; the people who buy weird paintings of Trump crossing the Delaware, or who believe that Trump is an agent of Jesus Christ, or who think that Trump is fighting a blood-drinking ring of pedophiles. These supporters have gone far beyond political loyalty and have succumbed to a kind of mass delusion. It is not possible to engage them. Indeed, to argue with them is to legitimize their beliefs, which itself is unhealthy for our democracy.

I don’t want to treat our fellow citizens with open contempt, or to confront and berate them. Rather, I am arguing for silence. The Trump loyalists who still cling to conspiracy theories and who remain part of a cult of personality should be deprived of the attention they seek, shunned for their antidemocratic lunacy, and then outvoted at the ballot box. […]

[W]hen views are incoherent and beliefs are rooted in fantasies, compromise is impossible. Further engagement is not only unwarranted, but it can also become counterproductive.

Also at The Atlantic, Peter Wehner profiles Donald Trump’s last days in office: 

None of this should come as a surprise. Some of us said, even before he became president, that Donald Trump’s Rosetta Stone, the key to deciphering him, was his psychology—his disordered personality, his emotional and mental instability, and his sociopathic tendencies. It was the main reason, though hardly the only reason, I refused to vote for him in 2016 or in 2020, despite having worked in the three previous Republican administrations. Nothing that Trump has done over the past four years has caused me to rethink my assessment, and a great deal has happened to confirm it.

Michael Gerson at The Washington Post calls Trump an “authoritarian wannabe” and warns against him ever holding public office again:

It is most important to consider these events not in the context of an unlikely 2020 coup, but in light of the inevitable 2024 election. The front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination is clearly not committed to democratic self-government. He is willing, even eager, to overturn the constitutional process if it serves his interests. No ethical second thoughts restrain him. Selfishness is not the violation of his standards; it is the fulfillment of his creed. For Trump, self-sacrifice is the true sin.

Meanwhile, Gabriel Debenedetti gives us a view of the Georgia race:

It’s easy enough to see Georgia as the unholy culmination of the Trump years — a battle royale to deliver one final referendum on the 45th president. “It’s not the first post-Trump race,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster. “It’s the last race of the Trump presidential era.” Strikingly, none of the players in the Georgia races are ready to let Trump go. The Democrats are campaigning, explicitly or implicitly, on a message of repudiation, and yet Trump and his mishandling of the pandemic have far and away been their most useful tools for turnout. The Republican candidates show tentative signs of wanting to separate from their alpha — Loeffler and Perdue have tried to avoid fully embracing Trump’s rigged-election fantasies — but neither has delusions of possessing enough star power on their own to counter the Democrats’ momentum. As for Trump, now that the Electoral College has voted and even McConnell and Vladimir Putin have congratulated Biden, he needs victory in Georgia more than ever — both to demonstrate he still has political vitality and as a first step in flipping the state back to red if (when) he runs again in 2024.

John Nichols writes about the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from the U.S. Capitol:

Three years after neo-Confederates, neo-Nazis, and their white nationalist allies rioted in Charlottesville, Va., over proposals to remove a statue in that city that honored the general who commanded the Civil War forces of treasonous rebellion that sought to break up the union in defense of slavery, one of the most recognizable monuments to the Confederacy and its generals was removed from the citadel of American governance in Washington, D.C.

On a final note, don’t miss Olivia Nuzzi’s reporting on one of the most surreal moments of 2020 — the Trump campaign’s press conference at Four Seasons Total Landscaping:

It’s hard to know what counts as a fuckup when you work for Donald Trump. Looked at by the standards of a traditional campaign with a traditional candidate who possesses a minor-to-moderate capacity for traditional human feelings, like shame, what happened at Four Seasons Total Landscaping, or the fact that it happened at all, was a disaster. A press conference is supposed to convince the public of whatever case you’re making through the act of being — or more likely pretending to be —transparent. That is, obviously, not what happened on the blacktop. But looked at in terms of attention generated and relevance sustained, two other goals of a press conference, the thing was a clear success. Plus it was the rare political joke that appealed to everyone.

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