The Resistance Arrives at Its Biggest Chance to Resist: Progress PA – By Jennifer Medina – The New York Times

“Carolyn Gibbs puts on the striped pants first, then the striped jacket. The hat is the final touch. That’s if it’s an Uncle Sam day. For Statue of Liberty, it’s a mint green dress, a foam halo and a political sign, usually, standing in as the torch.

Before Donald Trump became president, Ms. Gibbs, 59, rarely dressed up for Halloween, only occasionally for a costume party.

But for the better part of four years, she has shown up to rallies in shopping centers of suburban Pittsburgh in elaborate costumes, ready for the role of playful protester.

“I’m willing to make a fool of myself for democracy,” is how she often puts it.

Yet for all her playfulness — and it is boundless — Ms. Gibbs is driven by a sense of anger and residual shock. How could so many of her neighbors in western Pennsylvania vote for a man she saw as a threat? She still finds herself stuck on the question.”

Opinion | The Republican Party After Trump – The New York Times

By 

The editorial board is a group of opinion journalists whose views are informed by expertise, research, debate and certain longstanding values. It is separate from the newsroom.

“Of all the things President Trump has destroyed, the Republican Party is among the most dismaying.

“Destroyed” is perhaps too simplistic, though. It would be more precise to say that Mr. Trump accelerated his party’s demise, exposing the rot that has been eating at its core for decades and leaving it a hollowed-out shell devoid of ideas, values or integrity, committed solely to preserving its own power even at the expense of democratic norms, institutions and ideals.

Tomato, tomahto. However you characterize it, the Republican Party’s dissolution under Mr. Trump is bad for American democracy.

A healthy political system needs robust, competing parties to give citizens a choice of ideological, governing and policy visions. More specifically, center-right parties have long been crucial to the health of modern liberal democracies, according to the Harvard political scientist Daniel Ziblatt’s study of the emergence of democracy in Western Europe. Among other benefits, a strong center right can co-opt more palatable aspects of the far right, isolating and draining energy from the more radical elements that threaten to destabilize the system.

Today’s G.O.P. does not come close to serving this function. It has instead allowed itself to be co-opted and radicalized by Trumpism. Its ideology has been reduced to a slurry of paranoia, white grievance and authoritarian populism. Its governing vision is reactionary, a cross between obstructionism and owning the libs. Its policy agenda, as defined by the party platform, is whatever President Trump wants — which might not be so pathetic if Mr. Trump’s interests went beyond “Build a wall!”

“There is no philosophical underpinning for the Republican Party anymore,” the veteran strategist Reed Galen recently lamented to this board. A co-founder of the Lincoln Project, a political action committee run by current and former Republicans dedicated to defeating Mr. Trump and his enablers, Mr. Galen characterized the party as a self-serving, power-hungry gang.

With his dark gospel, the president has enthralled the Republican base, rendering other party leaders too afraid to stand up to him. But to stand with Mr. Trump requires a constant betrayal of one’s own integrity and values. This goes beyond the usual policy flip-flops — what happened to fiscal hawks anyway? — and political hypocrisy, though there have been plenty of both. Witness the scramble to fill a Supreme Court seat just weeks before Election Day by many of the same Senate Republicans who denied President Barack Obama his high court pick in 2016, claiming it would be wrong to fill a vacancy eight months out from that election.

Mr. Trump demands that his interests be placed above those of the nation. His presidency has been an extended exercise in defining deviancy down — and dragging the rest of his party down with him.

Having long preached “character” and “family values,” Republicans have given a pass to Mr. Trump’s personal degeneracy. The affairs, the hush money, the multiple accusations of assault and harassment, the gross boasts of grabbing unsuspecting women — none of it matters. White evangelicals remain especially faithful adherents, in large part because Mr. Trump has appointed around 200 judges to the federal bench.

For all their talk about revering the Constitution, Republicans have stood by, slack-jawed, in the face of the president’s assault on checks and balances. Mr. Trump has spurned the concept of congressional oversight of his office. After losing a budget fight and shutting down the government in 2018-19, he declared a phony national emergency at the southern border so he could siphon money from the Pentagon for his border wall. He put a hold on nearly $400 million in Senate-approved aid to Ukraine — a move that played a central role in his impeachment.

So much for Republicans’ Obama-era nattering about “executive overreach.”

Despite fetishizing “law and order,” Republicans have shrugged as Mr. Trump has maligned and politicized federal law enforcement, occasionally lending a hand. Impeachment offered the most searing example. Parroting the White House line that the entire process was illegitimate, the president’s enablers made clear they had his back no matter what. As Pete Wehner, who served as a speechwriter to the three previous Republican presidents, observed in The Atlantic: “Republicans, from beginning to end, sought not to ensure that justice be done or truth be revealed. Instead, they sought to ensure that Trump not be removed from office under any circumstances, defending him at all costs.”

The debasement goes beyond passive indulgence. Congressional bootlickers, channeling Mr. Trump’s rantings about the Deep State, have used their power to target those who dared to investigate him. Committee chairmen like Representative Devin Nunes and Senator Ron Johnson have conducted hearings aimed at smearing Mr. Trump’s political opponents and delegitimizing the special counsel’s Russia inquiry.

As head of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Mr. Johnson pushed a corruption investigation of Mr. Biden’s son Hunter that he bragged would expose the former vice president’s “unfitness for office.” Instead, he wasted taxpayer money producing an 87-page rehash of unsubstantiated claims reeking of a Russian disinformation campaign. Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, another Republican on the committee, criticized the inquiry as “a political exercise,” noting, “It’s not the legitimate role of government or Congress, or for taxpayer expense to be used in an effort to damage political opponents.”

Undeterred, last Sunday Mr. Johnson popped up on Fox News, engaging with the host over baseless rumors that the F.B.I. was investigating child pornography on a computer that allegedly had belonged to Hunter Biden. These vile claims are being peddled online by right-wing conspiracymongers, including QAnon.

Not that congressional toadies are the only offenders. A parade of administration officials — some of whom were well respected before their Trumpian tour — have stood by, or pitched in, as the president has denigrated the F.B.I., federal prosecutors, intelligence agencies and the courts. They have failed to prioritize election security because the topic makes Mr. Trump insecure about his win in 2016. They have pushed the limits of the law and human decency to advance Mr. Trump’s draconian immigration agenda.

Most horrifically, Republican leaders have stood by as the president has lied to the public about a pandemic that has already killed more than 220,000 Americans. They have watched him politicize masks, testing, the distribution of emergency equipment and pretty much everything else. Some echo his incendiary talk, fueling violence in their own communities. In the campaign’s closing weeks, as case numbers and hospitalizations climb and health officials warn of a rough winter, Mr. Trump is stepping up the attacks on his scientific advisers, deriding them as “idiots” and declaring Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top expert in infectious diseases, a “disaster.” Only a smattering of Republican officials has managed even a tepid defense of Dr. Fauci. Whether out of fear, fealty or willful ignorance, these so-called leaders are complicit in this national tragedy.

As Republican lawmakers grow increasingly panicked that Mr. Trump will lose re-election — possibly damaging their fortunes as well — some are scrambling to salvage their reputations by pretending they haven’t spent the past four years letting him run amok. In an Oct. 14 call with constituents, Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska gave a blistering assessment of the president’s failures and “deficient” values, from his misogyny to his calamitous handling of the pandemic to “the way he kisses dictators’ butts.” Mr. Sasse was less clear about why, the occasional targeted criticism notwithstanding, he has enabled these deficiencies for so long.

Profiles in courage these are not.

Mr. Trump’s corrosive influence on his party would fill a book. It hasin factfilled several, as well as a slew of articles, social media posts and op-eds, written by conservatives both heartbroken and incensed over what has become of their party.

But many of these disillusioned Republicans also acknowledge that their team has been descending into white grievance, revanchism and know-nothing populism for decades. Mr. Trump just greased the slide. “He is the logical conclusion of what the Republican Party has become in the last 50 or so years,” the longtime party strategist Stuart Stevens asserts in his new book, “It Was All a Lie.”

The scars of Mr. Trump’s presidency will linger long after he leaves office. Some Republicans believe that, if those scars run only four years deep, rather than eight, their party can be nursed back to health. Others question whether there is anything left worth saving. Mr. Stevens’s prescription: “Burn it to the ground, and start over.” “

Opinion | Why Would a Republican Vote Biden? Ask Arizonans – The New York Times

By Samara Klar and 

Dr. Klar and Dr. Weber teach at the University of Arizona School of Government and Public Policy.

Credit…Hilary Swift for The New York Times

“Arizona has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in 24 years, and the state has not been represented by two Democratic senators in over 65 years. So we find ourselves in a historically strange place: Joe Biden holds a small but consistent edge over the president, and Mark Kelly, the Democratic Senate candidate, holds a lead in his race against his Republican opponent, Martha McSally.

Why is Arizona suddenly a swing state?

The answer is frequently attributed to changes in the demographics of our electorate. It is true that Arizona’s population is increasingly urban, college-educated and Latino — trends that favor the Democratic Party.

But this influx of Democratic-leaning groups doesn’t explain the change. After all, the proportions of registered Republicans and Democrats in Arizona have remained remarkably stable: Registered Republicans solidly outnumber registered Democrats.

What has changed is that more Republicans aren’t voting for the party’s candidate in elections for national office.”

Opinion | The Republican Irritation Olympics – By Gail Collins – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA, via Shutterstock

“So which Senate Republican do you find most irritating? Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell or Mitt Romney?

I know there are lots of other contenders, but let’s stick with the men of the moment — the three stars of the Supreme Court follies! All famous for keeping their word except when it involves, you know, something they really want.

All currently supporting Donald Trump’s plan to get a new Supreme Court justice in place before the election. That’s just a little over a month, and far less time than it would normally take Congress to modify the rules on mackerel importation.

Of course, they all found it totally, deeply unacceptable when Barack Obama nominated a Supreme Court justice during his last year in office. McConnell, in fact, hated the idea of a Democratic president nominating judges at all. He dragged his feet so successfully that when Trump entered the White House, McConnell was able to go into a legislative closet somewhere and gift him with 105 moldering judicial vacancies. Probably the greatest achievement of the Senate majority leader’s career. Nothing Mitch cares about more than keeping Democrats off the court benches.”

David Lindsay:  You go Gail.  Here is the top comment, and the reason I posted the piece above.

D Price
Wayne, NJ Sept. 23

Two of these three are up for re-election this year. I beg the good citizens of Kentucky to vote for Amy McGrath, and rid us all of Mitch McConnell — whose power is ridiculously out of proportion to the mere 806,787 votes that put him in office. And I likewise beg the good citizens of South Carolina to cast their ballots for Jaime Harrison. Lindsey can check himself into a clinic to have his principles re-oriented. Those of us who don’t live in either state might consider a cash contribution to the campaigns of these two challengers. It would be lovely if Gail never had to write about McConnell or Graham again.

14 Replies1048 Recommended

Opinion | ‘I Fear That We Are Witnessing the End of American Democracy’ – by Thomas Edsall – The New York Times

Public

I would love to be more relevant. I found this piece by Tom Edsall so edifying, that I thought about posting it, and calling my blog, “Please, make me smarter!” This is the first clear explanation I’ve read for the extraordinary loyalty of most Trump supporters.

“. . .  According to Joshua Greene, a professor of psychology at Harvard and the author of “Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them,” Trump is expert at sending “signals that are music to the ears of his base,” signals that ineradicably affirm his membership in the populist right wing of the Republican Party.

Greene argued in an email that when

Trump says that a judge of Mexican ancestry can’t do his job, or attacks women for their physical appearance, or makes fun of a disabled reporter, or says that there are good people on both sides of a violent neo-Nazi rally, or that Haiti is a “shithole.” or that the “Second Amendment People” can maybe do something about Hillary Clinton, Trump is very deliberately and publicly excommunicating himself from the company of liberals, even moderate ones.

In Greene’s view, Trump offers a case study in the deployment of “costly signals.

How does it work? Greene writes:

Making oneself irredeemably unacceptable to the other tribe is equivalent to permanently binding oneself to one’s own. These comments are like gang tattoos. And in Trump’s case, it’s tattoos all over his neck and face.

At the same time, Trump’s “costly signals” make his reliability as a protector of white privilege clear.

John Tooby, a professor of anthropology at the University of California-Santa Barbara, described the signaling phenomenon in a 2017 Edge talk as an outgrowth of what he calls a “coalitional instinct.”

“To earn membership in a group,” Tooby says, “you must send signals that clearly indicate that you differentially support it, compared to rival groups.”

This, Tooby notes, encourages extremism: “Practical and functional truths are generally useless as differential signals, because any honest person might say them regardless of coalitional loyalty.” Far more effective are “unusual, exaggerated beliefs,” including “alarmism, conspiracies or hyperbolic comparisons.”

The success of Trump’s strategy will have long term consequences for the Republican Party, in Greene’s view:

Trump won over the base by publicly sacrificing his broader respectability. Back in 2016, the other Republican primary candidates looked ahead at the general election and thought this was a losing strategy. But Trump pulled it off, perhaps because he didn’t really care about winning. But now he owns the party. No Republican can get elected without the Republican base, and the Republican base trusts Trump and only Trump, thanks to his costly signals.”

Opinion | The Politics We Don’t See Matter as Much as Those We Do – By Thomas B. Edsall – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Edsall contributes a weekly column from Washington, D.C. on politics, demographics and inequality.

Credit…Corey Lowenstein/The News & Observer, via Associated Press

“Some of the most important developments in politics do not happen every election cycle, but every ten years, when politicians scrap the old battleground map and struggle to replace it with a new one more favorable to their interests.

Steven Hill, a former fellow at New America, described how this works in his still pertinent 2003 book “Fixing Elections: The Failure of America’s Winner Take All Politics.”

“Beginning in early 2001, a great tragedy occurred in American politics,” Hill wrote. As a result of that tragedy, “most voters had their vote rendered nearly meaningless, almost as if it had been stolen from them” as “hallowed notions such as ‘no taxation without representation’ and ‘one person, one vote’ have been drained of their vitality, reduced to empty slogans.”

Hill was referring to “the process of redistricting” that he argued was legalized “theft” engaged in by “the two major political parties, their incumbents, and their consultants,” which Hill said was “part of the everyday give-and-take (mostly take) of America’s winner-take-all politics.” “

Opinion | Vote Counts Change. Please Don’t Panic. – By Jesse Wegman – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Wegman is a member of the editorial board.

Credit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

“Imagine a parallel universe in which the sitting president cares about holding a free and democratic election in the midst of a pandemic. Imagine that his administration is staffed with competent, incorruptible officials who devote every waking hour to stopping the virus, saving lives, rebuilding the economy and preserving democracy. Imagine that the Postal Service hires tens of thousands of extra workers to process the surge of mail-in ballots.

We don’t live anywhere near that universe. But even if we did, we’d still have to worry about the “blue shift.”

It’s a harmless-sounding term, but it describes a very real phenomenon that could trigger major disputes in vote counts across the country after Election Day, lead to weeks of litigation and, most ominously, give President Trump an excuse to challenge the legitimacy of the vote if he loses it.

The blue shift refers to the tendency of votes counted after Election Day — mostly absentee and provisional ballots — to skew in favor of the Democratic presidential candidate. This has happened in each of the past four elections, according to Edward Foley, an election law scholar at Moritz College of Law at the Ohio State University. Mr. Foley coined the term after the 2012 election, when he was trying to predict which closely contested states might become the focus of legal challenges by one or the other political party.”

How Local Covid Deaths Are Affecting Vote Choice – The New York Times

By Lynn Vavreck and 

“On March 18, Donald J. Trump declared himself a wartime president against “the invisible enemy” of coronavirus and invoked the Defense Production Act. Now he’s facing a downside of presiding over a war: American casualties.

In the days since that pronouncement, Covid-19 has taken the lives of almost 150,000 Americans, many more than have died in recent wars combined. Data from over 328,692 interviews in 3,025 counties across the nation suggest that coronavirus-related deaths, like casualties of war, are hurting the president’s approval rating and may cost him and his party votes.

The gap between stated voting support for Mr. Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. grows by about 2.5 percentage points in Mr. Biden’s favor when a county has extremely high levels of coronavirus-related deaths relative to when it has low levels. These changes may come within counties as the number of virus-related deaths change, or across counties at any given point in time. For example, Covid-19 fatalities exploded in Wayne County in Michigan in April, suggesting a 1.25-point expansion of the gap between Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden.”

“. . . The analyses reveal clear patterns across multiple levels of geography (states and counties) and different offices (president, Senate and House). Local coronavirus fatalities are hurting Republicans running for federal offices.

A doubling of cases per capita in a county over the last 60 days drops Mr. Trump’s two-party vote margin against Mr. Biden by a third of a percentage point — a seemingly small gap, but not when you consider that several recent elections have been won by narrow margins. In 2016, the critical state of Michigan was won by less than a third of a point; Wisconsin and Pennsylvania were won by less than a point. And some places are seeing a tripling or quadrupling of cases.”

Opinion | The Real Reason Biden Is Ahead of Trump? He’s a Man – By Peter Beinart – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Beinart writes about politics and foreign policy.

Credit…Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York Times

“A narrative has formed around the presidential race: Donald Trump is losing because he’s botched the current crisis. Americans are desperate for competence and compassion. He’s offered narcissism and division — and he’s paying the political price.

For progressives, it’s a satisfying story line, in which Americans finally see Mr. Trump for the inept charlatan he truly is. But it’s at best half-true. The administration’s mismanagement of the coronavirus and the Black Lives Matter protests only partially explain why the president is trailing badly in the polls. There’s another, more disquieting, explanation: He is running against a man.

The evidence that Mr. Trump’s electoral woes stem as much from the gender of his opponent as from his own failures begins with his net approval rating: the percent of Americans who view him favorably minus the percent who view him unfavorably. Right now, that figure stands at -15 points. That makes Mr. Trump less popular than he was this spring. But he’s still more popular than he was throughout the 2016 campaign. Yet he won.

What has changed radically over the past four years isn’t Americans’ perception of Mr. Trump. It’s their perception of his opponent. According to Real Clear Politics’s polling average, Joe Biden’s net approval rating is about -1 point. At this point in the 2016 campaign, Hillary Clinton’s net approval rating was -17 points. For much of the 2016 general election, Mr. Trump faced a Democratic nominee who was also deeply unpopular. Today, he enjoys no such luck.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
Sad but true. Thank you Peter Berinart. I fear that Biden’s biggest mistake in this campaign was to limit his VP choice to females, when no ticket with a femail VP has ever won in US history.
Last month I backed Susan Rice, but really wanted Elizabeth Warren. Thinking about all the negatives brought up in this research report, I think a moderate white might be best for the ticket, which suggests Whitimer or one of the other governors from the moderate wing of the party.  Warren seems to be the best candidate and leader, but she has the onus of being such a successful female as to draw the ire of small minded men.

In Poll, Trump Falls Far Behind Biden in Six Key Battleground States – by Nate Cohn – The New York Times

By 

NYT UPSHOT/
SIENA COLLEGE POLL

Joe Biden holds a strong lead among registered voters in six battleground states carried by Donald Trump in 2016.

2016 Result NYT/Siena
June 2020
Michigan (n=610) <1 Trump +11 Biden

47-36
Wisconsin (655) <1 Trump +11 Biden

49-38
Pennsylvania (651) <1 Trump +10 Biden

50-40
Florida (651) +1 Trump +6 Biden

47-41
Arizona (650) +4 Trump +7 Biden

48-41
North Carolina (653) +4 Trump +9 Biden

49-40
Based on a New York Times/Siena College poll of 3,870 registered voters from June 8 to June 18.

President Trump has lost significant ground in the six battleground states that clinched his Electoral College victory in 2016, according to New York Times/Siena College surveys, with Joseph R. Biden Jr. opening double-digit leads in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Mr. Trump’s once-commanding advantage among white voters has nearly vanished, a development that would all but preclude the president’s re-election if it persisted. Mr. Biden now has a 21-point lead among white college graduates, and the president is losing among white voters in the three Northern battleground states — not by much, but he won them by nearly 10 points in 2016.

Four years ago, Mr. Trump’s strength in the disproportionately white working-class battleground states allowed him to win the Electoral College while losing the popular vote. The surveys indicate that the president continues to fare better in these relatively white battleground states than he does nationwide.

A separate Times/Siena survey released on Wednesday found Mr. Biden leading by 14 points nationwide, 50 percent to 36 percent.”

David Lindsay: This goes back to June 25th, and I thought I had posted it.