A couple of months ago I drafted up a post arguing that Trump was becoming yesterday’s news. He was off Twitter and Facebook, and responsible for a highly unpopular attack on Congress. Stripped of the powers of the presidency he would be forced to spend his time whining about the election and playing victim. The insurrection would give Republican officeholders the excuse they needed to distance themselves from Trump. (I certainly was not alone here; McConnell seemed to think this as well.) Gradually, Trump would come to be seen as an impotent failure.
This could still happen, but at this point it seems likely that I was wrong. I am surprised at the way Republicans are rallying around Trump and attacking Liz Cheney.
What does this mean for the future? An obvious problem is that Trump may win the presidency again in 2024. At this point it seems likely that he can secure the nomination if he stays healthy and throws his hat in the ring. He may not be the strongest Republican nominee in the general election, but if he gets nominated he could win, which would be a disaster. In any event, with Trumpism running rampant in the GOP any Republican nominee is quite likely to further inflame dangerous social tensions and threaten the integrity of our elections and the survival of our democracy. Also worrying, the Democrats may well lose control of Congress in 2022, and if this happens Republicans will take obstructionism to new heights to damage Biden and prevent his re-election. The bottom line is that American democracy is still skating in front of the breaking ice.
The obvious takeaway is that Democrats should use their fleeting, momentary hold on government to push through policies that will be tangibly beneficial to as many people as possible, and to make lasting progress on critical problems like child poverty and climate change. And Democrats and their supporters should skip the complacency-inducing talk about Biden’s transformational presidency and focus on turnout 24/7.
Ideally, given the stakes, the Democrats would also aggressively work to level the playing field of democratic competition (filibuster reform, voting right reform, statehood for DC and Puerto Rico, some kind of court reform). But evidently not all 50 Senate Democrats agree that we are skating in front of the breaking ice. I wish I had confidence the holdouts were right.