Don’t Call Your Opponents Traitors

Donald Trump
American president Donald Trump attends a World War I memorial in Suresnes, France, November 11, 2018 (White House/Shealah Craighead)

American president Donald Trump and his supporters have learned one lesson of the Iraq War: To quash legitimate concerns about an ill-advised military operation, call the patriotism of your critics into question.

It sometimes works — but only briefly, and it hurts you more than helps in the end. Read more “Don’t Call Your Opponents Traitors”

Why Republicans Still Support Trump

American president Donald Trump gives a speech in Paris, France, July 12, 2017
American president Donald Trump gives a speech in Paris, France, July 12, 2017 (DoD/Dominique A. Pineiro)

Donald Trump has been an electoral disaster for America’s Republican Party.

  • Republicans had a comfortable majority of 241 seats in the House of Representatives in 2016 against 194 for Democrats. Now they are in the minority with 197 to 233 seats.
  • Republicans held 33 of the nation’s governorships against sixteen for Democrats. Now they have 26 against 24 for Democrats.
  • Republicans held 57 percent of seats in state legislatures against 42 percent for Democrats. Now it’s 52-47 percent.
  • Republicans had a majority in 32 state legislatures against fourteen for Democrats. Now it’s thirty against nineteen.
  • Republicans had total control in 24 states against seven for Democrats. Now it’s 22 against fourteen.
  • Trump trails his Democratic rivals Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in nearly all presidential election polls. (Trump does best against Pete Buttigieg.)
  • Trump’s approval rating has never been above 50 percent. Read more “Why Republicans Still Support Trump”

Republicans Are Destroying Institutions to Save Their Party

The United States Capitol in Washington DC at night, September 18, 2014
The United States Capitol in Washington DC at night, September 18, 2014 (Thomas Hawk)

Republicans in the United States are ramping up their attacks on norms and institutions in pursuit of partisan interest. That is a danger to the whole country.

Journalists and universities have for decades been disparaged by the right as hopelessly biased to the point where only 15 percent of Republicans trust the mass media anymore, down from 46 percent two decades ago, and 73 percent believe higher education is going in the wrong direction.

The party now has the Justice Department, the FBI, the courts and arguably the Constitution in its sights. Read more “Republicans Are Destroying Institutions to Save Their Party”

Republicans Run Out of Excuses to Defend Trump

American president Donald Trump attends a meeting in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018
American president Donald Trump attends a meeting in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018 (Office of the President of the Republic of Finland/Juhani Kandell)

There is no doubt American president Donald Trump tried to extort Ukraine into launching an investigation of his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, whose son, Hunter, did work for an Ukrainian company. The impeachment inquiry conducted by the House Intelligence Committee has established the facts in under two months.

Trump held up congressionally mandated military aid to Ukraine (which is fighting a Russian-backed insurgency in its east), asked President Volodymyr Zelensky to do him a “favor” by investigating the Bidens, and aid was restored after news of the attempted blackmail broke.

It’s a straightforward abuse of power.

So Trump’s Republican allies are doing all they can to complicate the story. Read more “Republicans Run Out of Excuses to Defend Trump”

Republicans Won’t Allow Trump to Face Competition

American president Donald Trump arrives in Salt Lake City, Utah, December 4, 2017
American president Donald Trump arrives in Salt Lake City, Utah, December 4, 2017 (ANG/Annie Edwards)

Remember when Trumpists were up in arms in 2016 about internal Republican attempts to deny their man the presidential nomination?

I defended such attempts at the time, arguing that Republicans had every right to use every method at their disposal to stop a candidate so patently unfit for high office and one who didn’t even share their views on foreign policy and trade. (Most Republicans have since come around to Trump’s views.)

But Donald Trump’s supporters saw an “establishment” plot and demanded that the “democratic” will of the Republican electorate be respected. (No matter that only 45 percent of primary voters supported Trump.)

Not anymore. Read more “Republicans Won’t Allow Trump to Face Competition”

Republican Ground Shifts Beneath Trump’s Feet

American president Donald Trump and his defense secretary, James Mattis, arrive for a NATO summit in Brussels, July 12, 2018
American president Donald Trump and his defense secretary, James Mattis, arrive for a NATO summit in Brussels, July 12, 2018 (NATO)

I haven’t written much about Donald Trump this year, because what’s the point? As I reported in December, the scandals keep piling on — from corruption to illegal payoffs to making apologies for white supremacists to Russia — but half of America either doesn’t believe it or doesn’t care.

Trump campaign officials have been arrested, indicted and convicted; migrants have been treated so abysmally at the southern border that seven children have died in detention; the president launched a disastrous trade war with China and threatens to unravel the entire world order that has kept America and its allies safe for seven decades, and still members of Trump’s Republican Party would not speak out.

They finally are. The president’s behavior has become so erratic in recent weeks that even some of his supporters are disturbed. Read more “Republican Ground Shifts Beneath Trump’s Feet”

How We Talk About Our Opponents Matters

George Bush Dick Cheney
American president George W. Bush speaks with his vice president, Dick Cheney, at the White House in Washington DC, March 3, 2008 (National Archives)

Remember when George W. Bush was a fascist?

When he signed the PATRIOT Act and launched the Iraq War, reasonable left-wing Americans voiced reasonable objections. The far left reached for Hitler.

Republicans dismissed this as over the top, because it was. (And it made it easier for them to dismiss reasonable objections as well.) So when the real thing came along, and this time not only the far left but commentators on the center-right warned that Donald Trump had a lot in common with the worst leaders in European history, many Republican voters once again shrugged.

If anything, it made them support Trump more. As one voter told The Atlantic in 2016:

Give people the impression that you will hate them the same or nearly so for voting Jeb Bush as compared to voting for Trump and where is the motivation to be socially acceptable with Jeb?

The left continues to make this mistake — and so does the right. Read more “How We Talk About Our Opponents Matters”

Conservatives Put Party Before Country. They’ve Harmed Both

Center-right leaders in Britain, Spain and the United States have put the interests of their parties ahead of the good of their countries. Both their parties and their countries have suffered as a result. Read more “Conservatives Put Party Before Country. They’ve Harmed Both”

Republicans Now Have More in Common with the European Far Right

The skyline of Washington DC at dawn
The skyline of Washington DC at dawn (Shutterstock/Orhan Cam)

Expect plenty of coverage between now and the 2020 election about how Democrats in the United States have moved to the left.

This isn’t wrong. On everything from health care to transgender rights, Democrats have become more left-wing.

But they’re still more centrist than most center-left parties in Europe while Republicans have moved so far to the right that they now have more in common with Austria’s Freedom Party and the Alternative for Germany than they do with Britain’s Conservative Party and Germany’s Christian Democrats. Read more “Republicans Now Have More in Common with the European Far Right”

Trump Supporters Don’t Care

Businessman Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 27, 2015
Businessman Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 27, 2015 (Gage Skidmore)

As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump joked he could shoot somebody on New York’s Fifth Avenue and not lose voters.

His racism, his ignorance of policy, his shambolic business career and two dozen allegations of sexual misconduct (which he denied in public but admitted to in what he thought was a private conversation) didn’t move voters.

Three years later, the transgressions have only become more serious, but most Republicans still don’t care. Read more “Trump Supporters Don’t Care”