Imagine Manchin's & Sinema's Legacies

"Bipartisanship" by Nancy Ohanian

Today, Trump endorsed Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) for reelection in a nasty slam against Louisiana's other senator, Bill Cassidy, who is more independent-minded than Kennedy. "Unlike Louisiana’s other Senator, Bill Cassidy, who used my name in ads and all over the place in order to get re-elected, and then went 'stupid,' John Kennedy is the real deal-- a brilliant and highly educated man." Then he permanently shut down his failed blog, From The Desk Of Donald J. Trumpanzee.

Yesterday Bess Levin noted that the now widespread reports that Trump has been telling people he's going to be "reinstated" by August indicates he's either planning another coup or has fully descended into madness. "[T]he only way Trump could become president again by the end of the summer would be if he was scheming something that falls under the umbrella of treason. Sane people know this. Yet while Trump is assuredly not going to come within 1,000 feet of the Oval Office any time soon-- or ever again!-- some of his craziest supporters appear to worryingly believe he might."

Sidney Powell, Michael Flynn, Steve Bannon and the MyPillow Guy have been leading the charge. "While some people insist Trump is an unhinged has-been-- which he is!--"wrote Levin, "whose delusions should be ignored, others think treating 'evidence of a possible seditious conspiracy as mere loose talk from an addled man' should be very closely paid attention to. In a long twitter thread on Tuesday, attorney and reporter Seth Abramson wrote, 'There are efforts afoot now in GA, AZ, NV, and WI to delegitimize Biden’s victories there. Meanwhile, Trump advisers Flynn and Powell are saying that once those victories are delegitimized, the military should move in. If Trump is in on the conversations, it’s a coup attempt…. To be clear, I have consistently said that I do not believe the military would ever participate in a coup. The point of this thread isn’t to suggest a coup will happen, but that Donald Trump and his co-conspirators must be investigated for seditious conspiracy immediately.' He added: 'We’ve been around this mountain with Trump before-- and specifically on the question of conspiracy, aiding and abetting, and attempted crimes. You can be arrested for certain inchoate federal criminal offenses even if the crime you ultimately want to see committed doesn’t occur. We don’t have a federal criminal justice system that says a crime is only a crime after it’s successful. I suspect that even a child would be able to see why. If that were how the system worked, criminals would succeed before we could start trying to undo what they had done. Instead, we have state/federal criminal justice systems that try to cut off criminal conspiracies at the pass once law enforcement has evidence the conspirators have taken at least one discrete step toward achieving their illegal ambitions.'"

In his column for Bloomberg News this morning, Jonathan Bernstein asked "How worried should we be about the state of democracy in the U.S.?" He had an answer too: "A group of leading political scientists who study the issue say: a lot. A whole lot. In fact, they say: 'our entire democracy is now at risk.' They’re correct... The problem is easy enough to describe. In a two-party political system, one party, the Republican Party, has in large part turned antidemocratic. That party will eventually be voted into office, and if it implements nationally the policies that some of its leading politicians have advocated-- and in some cases advanced at the state level-- it’s possible that it will succeed in seriously harming democracy."

On one level, this process is straightforward. After all, if former President Donald Trump had his way, Republicans would’ve overturned the 2020 election on the basis of flat-out lies about fraud. Trump wasn’t a fringe figure; he was the party’s two-time presidential nominee, and he may well be nominated again in 2024. Nor was he alone. Dozens of House Republicans voted with him, and hundreds of party actors across the country, including elected officials, supported his efforts. Even now, months after President Joe Biden was sworn in, Arizona Republicans are holding a fraudulent “audit” of the election. Trump’s supporters are barely even pretending that they’re interested in anything other than an authoritarian power grab, and they seem prepared to kick everyone who isn’t fully on board with this program out of the party.
...At the same time, the party’s various attempts to make voting more difficult are also a real threat. Scholars will remind us that the U.S. in many ways only became a democracy recently, after the 1964 Civil Rights Act brought something resembling full citizenship to all Americans and the 1965 Voting Rights Act extended the franchise. The threat to those achievements isn’t as dramatic as the possibility that Trump supporters will attempt to throw out election results. But it’s clear that many Republicans think a smaller electorate is a better electorate, and want to make it harder for some Democrats to vote. If they succeed, Black and Latino voters could become a smaller share of the electorate, which would reduce their influence and make it easier to infringe on their rights.

I have a feeling Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema may go down in history as arch-villains, instead of as just two inconsequential senators no one remembers or knows anything about. Reporting for the Washington Post this morning, Sean Sullivan and Mike DeBonis wrote that as Democrats begin panicking over a GOP descent into fascism, pressure is mounting on Manchin. (They're fools to leave out Sinema.) They wrote that "Democratic leaders and activists are urgently stepping up pressure on Manchin to support legislation to fight Republican-led voting restrictions across the country, with party officials increasingly concluding that the battle over voting rights could come down to what the centrist Democrat from West Virginia does." He's not a "centrist." He's a conservative and so is Sinema. Yesterday Biden obliquely referred to them as voting with Republicans more than with Democrats, which is an exaggeration... unless he was referring to existential type stuff.