The Republican Party, having done next to nothing to become the “big tent” it was advised to become after Mitt Romney’s loss to Barack Obama in 2012, embraced Donald Trump and allowed him to trash all aspects of American democracy. They did this because it’s the only play they have — eschew precedent and norms, stack the federal judiciary with conservative judges, make voting as difficult as possible, fire up the angry racists, support tax cuts for the wealthy and take marching orders from the plutocrats.
Writing in The New York Times, Henry Farrell and Bruce Schneier describe the biggest threat to the democracy as the disinformation Trump has spread about our long-held, shared beliefs and the complicity of “insiders,” in this case Republican leaders and the crackpots who have tried to make the case of massive election fraud.
With the exception of 2004, Democratic presidential candidates have won the nation’s popular vote in seven out of the last eight elections. Republicans know that the tide of demographic change will continue to turn against them as its leadership, infested with Trumpism, works against the rights and welfare of rising minorities. That strategy was there before Trump, it was amplified during this presidency. You see it in voter suppression efforts, in the rhetoric used to describe the Blacks Lives Matter movement and in the embrace of policies that hurt the working class. You see it clearly in Mitch McConnell’s complete indifference to people struggling financially through the pandemic.
The only solution for this is to make them pay a price they, unfortunately, did not pay in the 2020 election, though there’s still a possibility that Republicans will lose their Senate majority in January.
“The fundamental problem is Republican insiders who have convinced themselves that to keep and hold power, they need to trash the shared beliefs that hold American democracy together,” write Farrell and Schneier. “They may have long-term worries about the consequences, but they’re unlikely to do anything about those worries in the near-term unless voters, wealthy donors or others whom they depend on make them pay short-term costs.”
Democrats need to win two Senate runoff elections in Georgia on January 5, or McConnell will remain as Senate majority leader and continue to block progress for the nation; he could even sabotage Joe Biden’s administration by holding up cabinet nominations. McConnell will do anything to hold power, and he knows his only plays are those he’s been using. It’s tragic that he won reelection in Kentucky, but his ouster as Senate leader is still possible.
Unless that happens, it will be hard for Biden to deal with the pandemic, the economy and climate change, the huge challenges he inherits from the incompetent and ignorant Trump.
Biden and the Democrats need a chance to regain the confidence and trust of more Americans who saw salvation in Trump. Recovery from pandemic will get the country moving in the right direction again. I expect Republicans to stand in the way of that; they opposed Obamacare, after all, a law that benefited thousands of their own constituents. (Several Republican governors continue to oppose Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion in their states.)
Even if the Democrats do not capture a majority in January, they will only need one or two seats to take it back in 2022 when Republicans will have to defend 20 seats in the Senate. McConnell and the Republicans who supported Trump need to pay a price for doing so. That will happen with a double win in Georgia in January. Otherwise, Biden will have to show the nation that the Democrats have a plan for the future while the obstructionist Republicans, led by McConnell, have none. At some point, with Trump gone, more Americans will see this.