The GOP is Getting Desperate

7 mins read

. . . so expect things to get worse before they get better.

The worst thing Democrats can do right now is escalate the situation.

Democracy is under attack. The goal is to save democracy. Schiff, therefore, handled the situation correctly.

Fox reported that some Republican members asked to be arrested “to help with the narrative of Democratic process abuse.”

“Narrative” in this context means “the story they’re trying to create.”

The Washington Post reported that Democrats debated asking Capitol Police to physically remove them, but feared “such a dramatic move would play into Republican hands.”

The Democrats are being the adults in the room: Measured, deliberate, cognizant of the dangers.

After Taylor’s devastating statement to Congress, people asked how the GOP can continue to defend Trump.

There are two answers: Electoral Math and Putin Love

First, the math. The question is: What % of the GOP base will stick with Trump no matter what?

Let’s take a low number for the sake of argument. According to 538’s polling aggregate, Trump is at 40% approval.

Let’s say he has a lock on 20% of that 40%. That translates into about 3 percentage points in the general election.

The GOP hasn’t won a presidential election by more than 3 percentage points since 1988—even with all that voter suppression.

They can’t afford to lose those 3 points. Thus even without the devastating evidence emerging about Trump, the GOP had math trouble.

What do you think Giuliani and Trump were up to in Ukraine!?

It’s no coincidence that the timeline in the Whistleblower complaints begins in December of 2018, after the Democrats won in the midterms by 8 percentage points.

Trump & Giuliani saw the numbers and were desperate.

The problem for the GOP is that their Fox-viewing base is aging and their demographics are shrinking.

Meanwhile, Democratic demographics are expanding. The Democratic party morphed into the party of minority and urban communities & young people concerned about guns & climate change.

The right wing backlash that brought us Trump picked up steam after the Civil Rights and women’s rights movement. In the 1990s, Gingrich instructed Republicans to call Democrats “traitors” and to refuse to compromise.

The problem is that democracy requires compromise. Trump’s base would rather have a Putin-style oligarchy / autocracy than western-style democracy. For more on the Trump-GOP-Putin love affair, click here.

Spoiler: They admire Russia. They really do.

Before the Civil Rights Movement, folks like these were Democrats:

Remember, the Democrats were party of the Confederacy. After the Democrats embraced Civil Rights, former Confederates and white supremacists fled to the GOP.

Losing the white South meant that the Democratic Party lost lots of elections until they grew strong again. They grew strong because of expanding numbers and increased rights for minorities.

For more on the shifting of the party platforms, click here.

For the past 50 years, the GOP kept KKK sympathizers in a corner, nurturing them to get their votes, encouraging them to vote for “mainstream” GOP candidates. See this passage fromMax Boot’s book where he figured it out.

Then, in 2016, the far right wing took over the GOP.

Trump made the subtext text. Now that Trump empowered the far right corner of the GOP, I don’t think they’ll go back to their corner.

Harvard Prof. Steven Levitsky says that for the GOP to remain viable, they have to find a way to appeal to minority communities.

The problem is obvious: You can’t appeal to minority communities AND keep the KKK in your party. Hence their math problem.

The GOP is backed into a corner and desperate. Trump and Giuliani getting caught in Ukraine makes their situation even more desperate.

After impeachment will be a Senate trial. Here are three possible outcomes:

  • Enough GOP Senators vote against Trump and remove him from office.

Trump’s supporters, enraged, will turn on the GOP, dividing the GOP base, making electoral majority impossible.

Another possibility:

  • A handful of Senators vote against Trump, but not enough to remove him from office.

This too will (1) enrage Trump’s supporters & divide the GOP and (2)Trump’s crimes will clear to the rest of the nation, ensuring his defeat in 2020. More math problems.

Final possibility:

  • The GOP sticks together and GOP Senators line up behind Trump.

This is the GOP’s best chance for survival: They hold their 40% together and try to expand the numbers.

To try to bring this scenario about, they’ll pull more of this:

Because GOP demographics are shrinking, the only way they can survive is to destroy democracy.

This ties back to Putin Love.

They want escalation. For how to respond, see Harvard prof. Levitsky here.

I therefore disagree with people saying this:

In fact, it IS complicated. Remember that a hallmark of people with authoritarian dispositions is that they avoid complexity. Responsible leadership is fully cognizant of the dangers of a radicalized and angry right wing.

Arrest shouldn’t be impulsive or come from anger. Before saying anything resembling “lock them up” or “all criminals must go to jail” please read this post on punishment.

The winner isn’t the side that hits hardest.

The winner is the side that saves democracy.

“Dem side” I assume means “the left.”

Demagogues exist on the left as well as the right. If you feel people stirring your rage with irrational arguments, step back. Get off the Internet and get busy.

Originally posted at Musing About Law, Politics, and Books. Re-posted with permission.


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Teri has written novels, short stories, nonfiction for both young readers and adults, and lots of legal briefs. She is currently writing an overlapping series of biographies called the Making of America. Her political commentary has appeared on the NBC Think Blog and CNN.com. Her articles and essays have appeared in publications as diverse as Education Week, Slate Magazine, and Scope Magazine. Her short fiction has appeared in the American Literary View, The Iowa Review, and others. For twelve years she maintained a private appellate law practice limited to representing indigents on appeal from adverse rulings. She believes with the ACLU that when the rights of society's most vulnerable members are denied, everybody's rights are imperiled. She also believe with John Updike that the purpose of literature is to expand our sympathies. Teri lives with her family on the beautiful central coast in California.

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