“partisan animosity suits the authoritarian elements on the left and right just fine. Their goal is power, and they have little patience for procedural niceties that interfere with its exercise. As history teaches, a base whipped up into fear and fury is ready to accept almost anything to ensure its own survival. Perhaps even the destruction of the institutions and ideals that make America distinctively itself.”
“At a time of polarization, you might expect the right to react by doubling down on support for free markets and private property. Instead, concurrent with democratic socialism’s ascendance, many prominent conservatives have taken a leftward turn of their own.
In June 2019, Tucker Carlson spent five full minutes during his prime-time Fox News show praising a plan from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) to promote “economic patriotism.” The proposal, which called for “aggressive” government action to bolster domestic manufacturing and keep American companies from creating jobs abroad, “sounds like Donald Trump at his best,” Carlson enthused.
President Donald Trump exhibited a high degree of comfort wielding state power for mercantilist ends, from his imposition of tariffs to his use of subsidies and bailouts to support American companies facing competition. Now a rising cadre of nationalist conservatives (a.k.a. “natcons”) are happy to provide the intellectual ammunition for this America First agenda.
In 2019, Republican policy wonk Oren Cass appeared at the inaugural National Conservatism Conference to argue for industrial policy—a robust program of federal interventions meant to resuscitate American manufacturing. He went on to found a think tank, American Compass, that promotes such familiar policies as making corporations give board seats to labor representatives.”
“Economics is the arena in which the left-right convergence is most obviously apparent. But there are other places in which the two movements, though superficially worlds apart, are tracking in the same disturbing direction at a deeper level.”
“This is what feels most broken in our politics. It’s not the ways left and right are further apart than ever; it’s the ways they’re closer together, with powerful elements on each side having jettisoned the longstanding liberal ideal of respecting the rights of even those with whom you strongly disagree.
The two camps, of course, have different substantive moral visions for the society they wish to construct. But each views a broad conception of individual liberty as a barrier to achieving that vision.
Economic liberty, including international trade and private property rights, stands in the way of progressives’ desire for an egalitarian and democratic order in which no one is ever again expected to work for someone else—and in the way of natcons’ desire for a revivified American manufacturing sector in which male breadwinners can support a large family on a single income. Speech protections prevent both sides from controlling the conversation as they wish. Religious freedom is seen as either a cover for rank bigotry or a rationalization for excluding God from the public square. And liberal toleration, with its norms of fair play and civility, is at odds with the reigning conception of politics as total war.”
“Individual liberty, equality under the law, protections against the arbitrary exercise of governmental power—these are unmistakably American values. While influential elements on both the left and the right have turned against them in recent years, most Americans are not on board with total-war politics.
Much has been made of rising affective polarization, and there is some evidence to support the concern. People have become more likely over time to say they would be displeased if they had a son or daughter who married someone from the opposite political party, for example. Yet Americans from both parties are still significantly more likely to say they would not be bothered at all. In fact, a 2020 survey commissioned by The Economist found just 16 percent of Democrats and just 13 percent of Republicans saying they would be “very upset” in that situation. Severe affective polarization remains mostly an elite phenomenon.
In a poll commissioned last year by the group More in Common, three in four respondents agreed that “the differences between Americans are not so big that we cannot come together.” Demonization of the other is a powerful political weapon, and those inclined toward authoritarianism are particularly comfortable using it. But what is sometimes called the “grand liberal bargain”—a social truce in which each side broadly agrees to respect the other’s freedom, even if it doesn’t like what the other side will do with it—is a powerful defense, and one in keeping with the natural ethos of America. It’s not too late to choose it.”
“As I wrote in August 2020, there was effectively a dam preventing the president’s corrupt or political pressures from crashing through and flooding the DOJ — but, as Trump’s term stretched on, that dam began to spring more and more leaks.
Berman, in his telling, was part of the dam. And according to the Times, his book provides new details on how he faced private pressure to prosecute two Trump targets in particular: former Secretary of State John Kerry and former Obama White House Counsel Greg Craig. In both cases, Berman reveals a troubling pattern: Once he concluded no charges were merited, top Trump appointees working under the attorney general simply reassigned each case to another US Attorney’s office in the hope of a different outcome.”
“Despite Trump’s many efforts to bend the Justice Department to his whims, officials resisted many of his demands. None of his big targets — Clinton, Kerry, the Bidens, Comey, and McCabe — were prosecuted, and the Department largely did not assist him in his attempts to overturn the 2020 election result.
But if Trump should return to power after 2024, there’s no guarantee that resistance will continue. He would no longer need to constrain himself for reelection, and after January 6, he’s embittered against traditional Republican establishment forces he believes abandoned him.
So Trump and his team may well become more skilled at identifying and empowering true loyalists who really would act in Trump’s personal interests, defying law or tradition. Indeed, his recent legal peril will make that of paramount personal importance to him.
Furthermore, Trump allies have recently been floating a plan to purge many career government officials, including at the Justice Department and FBI, should he return to power, according to Axios’s Jonathan Swan. Trump has repeatedly argued that the Justice Department has been politicized against him, after four years of trying to politicize it against his enemies. So there’s every reason to expect he’d go much further in his second term — including to totally unprecedented places.”
“Former President Donald Trump’s reaction to the 2020 election arguably violated several federal and state laws. But any effort to prosecute him for those alleged violations would face the possibly insurmountable challenge of proving criminal intent.
Given Trump’s long history of embracing self-flattering assertions at odds with reality, it seems plausible that he sincerely believed, despite all the countervailing evidence, that the election was subverted by systematic fraud. If so, his various efforts to prevent Joe Biden from taking office would have been, from his perspective, attempts to correct a grievous wrong rather than attempts to illegally obstruct the peaceful transfer of power.
The select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot showed that people close to Trump recognized who had actually won the election and tried to dissuade him from embracing wild conspiracy theories to the contrary. But that testimony did not conclusively prove that Trump privately agreed with those advisers even while publicly promoting the stolen-election fantasy. A recent ruling by a federal judge in California supplies further evidence to support that interpretation, suggesting that Trump knowingly submitted false claims about election fraud in Georgia as part of a federal lawsuit.”
“Carter ruled that the crime-fraud exception applies to four emails related to Trump and Eastman’s “knowing misrepresentation of voter fraud numbers in Georgia when seeking to overturn the election results in federal court.” Carter says the emails indicate that Trump made those claims even though he knew they had been discredited.
In a state lawsuit filed on December 4, 2021, Carter notes, “President Trump and his attorneys alleged…that Fulton County improperly counted a number of votes,” including “10,315 deceased people, 2,560 felons, and 2,423 unregistered voters.” When they decided to file a federal lawsuit challenging the election results, Trump and his lawyers “discussed incorporating by reference the voter fraud numbers alleged in the state petition.” But in a December 30 email, Eastman “relayed ‘concerns’ from President Trump’s team ‘about including specific numbers in the paragraph dealing with felons, deceased, moved, etc.'”
The next day, Eastman elaborated on those concerns: “Although the President signed a verification for [the state court filing] back on Dec. 1, he has since been made aware that some of the allegations (and evidence proffered by the experts) has been inaccurate. For him to sign a new verification with that knowledge (and incorporation by reference) would not be accurate.”
Trump apparently was unfazed. “President Trump and his attorneys ultimately filed the complaint with the same inaccurate numbers without rectifying, clarifying, or otherwise changing them,” Carter writes. “President Trump, moreover, signed a verification swearing under oath that the incorporated, inaccurate numbers ‘are true and correct’ or ‘believed to be true and correct’ to the best of his knowledge and belief.”
In other words, Carter says, “the emails show that President Trump knew that the specific numbers of voter fraud were wrong but continued to tout those numbers, both in court and to the public.” The emails therefore “are sufficiently related to and in furtherance of a conspiracy to defraud the United States.””
“Almost 200 Republicans who are on the ballot in November 2022 believe that President Biden’s win in the 2020 election was illegitimate. But the 2020 election is over, it can’t be undone — so why is this such a big deal? If a Republican thinks the 2020 election was stolen despite multiple investigations finding no evidence of widespread voter fraud, they might not accept the results of the 2024 election, either. And if they’re elected this November, they will be in a position to influence, and potentially overturn, the next presidential election.”
“It’s true that few American presidents have found themselves on the wrong side of the criminal justice system — just one has ever been arrested (read to the end of this piece to find out who). But plenty of other countries have arrested, indicted or imprisoned their current or former leaders, and it’s not a mark against their health as a democracy. Quite the contrary.
The evidence shows that free countries — those that have strong records of protecting political rights and civil liberties — are just as likely to hold their current and former leaders accountable as unfree countries. In fact, such moves are slightly more likely to make countries freer than less free, as well as enable free countries to keep their republic intact.
That’s the clear conclusion from a review of 243 cases from 1972 through 2021, where current or former chief executives have been arrested, indicted or imprisoned.”
“Many of the election deniers running for secretary of state this year have spent their time talking about something they can’t do: “decertifying” the 2020 results.
The bigger question — amid concerns about whether they would fairly administer the 2024 presidential election — is exactly what powers they would have if they win in November.
Atop the list of the most disruptive things they could do is refusing to certify accurate election results — a nearly unprecedented step that would set off litigation in state and federal court. That has already played out on a smaller scale this year, when a small county in New Mexico refused to certify election results over unfounded fears about election machines, until a state court ordered them to certify.
But secretaries of states’ roles in elections stretch far beyond approving vote tallies and certifying results. Many of the candidates want to dramatically change the rules for future elections, too.
The Donald Trump-aligned Republican nominees in a number of presidential battleground states have advocated for sweeping changes to election law, with a particular focus on targeting absentee and mail voting in their states — keying off one of Trump’s obsessions.
And even if they cannot push through major changes to state law using allies in the legislatures, they could still complicate and frustrate elections through the regulatory directives that guide the day-to-day execution of election procedures by county officials in their states.”
“The litany of grievances, the sense that Trump has been forever persecuted by the government, the unfounded implication that the FBI was “planting information” at his house — all of it screams victimization, that Trump is the target of a vast and shadowy conspiracy pulling the FBI’s strings.
The fact that a Truth Social user had just been radicalized by such talk — posting violent threats on the site before attempting an armed breach of an FBI building — isn’t deterring Trump at all. He is, as the political scientist Julia Azari puts it, a nationalist who has no concept of a nation; a narcissist who abuses the language of patriotism without any commitment to the underlying idea that he has some responsibility to preserve order and cohesion in the polity. In fact, he does the opposite — sowing division and stoking violent distrust if it helps him.
Perhaps Trump’s talk wouldn’t be so dangerous if the rest of the GOP would work to tamp it down. Yet it’s become excruciatingly clear in the wake of his emergence as the GOP’s standard-bearer that Republicans are not taking Trump’s transgressions and troubles as opportunities to dump him, but rather to dig in, right by his side, in similarly radical terms.”
“As it escalates, there is every chance that Trump’s supporters will become more radicalized.”
“The Department of Homeland Security has thought since at least 2020 that white nationalists are now the greatest terrorist threat to the American homeland. The odds of a greater increase in far-right terrorism, especially from disgruntled Trump supporters who have been taught to see the Biden administration as part of a tyrannical “Regime,” are rising — and will continue to rise as the broader conservative movement keeps using the virulent anti-government language of the fringe right.
The United States is at a troubling crossroads. If investigators in jurisdictions around the country drop their inquiries into Trump, they are tacitly conceding that he can break any laws without consequence prior to a near-certain 2024 presidential run — an incredibly dangerous precedent. If they continue their work, they risk stoking further unrest and civil conflict, pushing an already polarized country toward an even more dangerous form of division.
Trump and his enablers have taken the country to a very dark place. And we have every reason to believe things will get darker before the dawn.”
There are at least dozens, probably hundreds, of proposed and discussed systems for determining who wins a single winner election. Unfortunately, the most commonly used system appears to be one of the worst. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mh7L9yJgVcU