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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Trump v. Rove, Cheney, WSJ, and Others

Our forthcoming book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the parties.

The state of the GOP is not good.


Politico Playbook:
Sources tell Playbook that McCarthy has been trying to persuade Trump not to seek revenge against 10 Republicans who voted to impeach the former president — members who could be critical to McCarthy’s bid to retake the House and become speaker.

Not only has Trump refused to commit, he has publicly repeated his vow to primary those incumbents.

That’s not all. Trump and his new campaign team are also cracking down on the use of the president’s name for fundraising — a huge draw attracting small-dollar donors. Three sources told us that Trump, who made his fortune licensing his name, has felt burned and “abused” by the GOP bandying about his name to haul in money.

His team has conveyed that any Republican or GOP committee seeking to use it needs explicit approval, according to five sources familiar with the situation. One Trump adviser said they’ve been sending out cease-and-desists to faux PACs using Trump’s name to fundraise, among other demands to knock it off.

In his CPAC speech last weekend, Trump reinforced the point by directing all fundraising to his own campaign entities. He told attendees “there’s only one way” to donate to Trump Republicans: through his own Save America PAC.

That move came around the same time that McCarthy’s own reelection campaign took down a website called, a landing page for donations that appeared to go live around the time McCarthy met with Trump in Florida. McCarthy’s office said the website, which was used in 2020, went up by mistake. The McCarthy and Trump camps denied that its removal had anything to do with Trump’s concern about how his name is being used.

Still, the situation highlights an awkward two-step between the House GOP (particularly McCarthy) and Trump. They need the ex-president to raise gobs of money from and turn out the base. But any cash collected off the Trump name would also be used to protect some of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach him — members like California Rep. DAVID VALADAO, a McCarthy ally who’s in a difficult reelection.

Setting aside Trump’s appetite for revenge against those members, even some House Republicans aren’t even comfortable with McCarthy & Co.’s Trump entreaties. At a private meeting in February, Rep. TOM RICE (R-S.C.), one of the pro-impeachment Republicans, said the conference shouldn’t be using the ex-president at all in its effort to retake the House, according to people in the room.

Caught in the middle is McCarthy, who is notorious for trying to please everybody. McCarthy has made no secret of his belief that the House GOP needs Trump in 2022. But placating a president who doesn’t hear nuance when it comes to his detractors is not going to be easy for “My Kevin.”

SPOTTED: CATALINA LAUF, a pro-Trump Republican primarying Rep. ADAM KINZINGER (R-Ill.) in 2022, at Mar-a-Lago on Thursday evening, in the latest sign that Trump is serious about primarying his House GOP antagonists.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Democratic Decline Under Trump

Sarah Repucci and Amy Slipowitz at Freedom House:
The final weeks of the Trump presidency featured unprecedented attacks on one of the world’s most visible and influential democracies. After four years of condoning and indeed pardoning official malfeasance, ducking accountability for his own transgressions, and encouraging racist and right-wing extremists, the outgoing president openly strove to illegally overturn his loss at the polls, culminating in his incitement of an armed mob to disrupt Congress’s certification of the results. Trump’s actions went unchecked by most lawmakers from his own party, with a stunning silence that undermined basic democratic tenets. Only a serious and sustained reform effort can repair the damage done during the Trump era to the perception and reality of basic rights and freedoms in the United States.

The year leading up to the assault on the Capitol was fraught with other episodes that threw the country into the global spotlight in a new way. The politically distorted health recommendations, partisan infighting, shockingly high and racially disparate coronavirus death rates, and police violence against protesters advocating for racial justice over the summer all underscored the United States’ systemic dysfunctions and made American democracy appear fundamentally unstable. Even before 2020, Trump had presided over an accelerating decline in US freedom scores, driven in part by corruption and conflicts of interest in the administration, resistance to transparency efforts, and harsh and haphazard policies on immigration and asylum that made the country an outlier among its Group of Seven peers.

But President Trump’s attempt to overturn the will of the American voters was arguably the most destructive act of his time in office. His drumbeat of claims—without evidence—that the electoral system was ridden by fraud sowed doubt among a significant portion of the population, despite what election security officials eventually praised as the most secure vote in US history. Nationally elected officials from his party backed these claims, striking at the foundations of democracy and threatening the orderly transfer of power.
The exposure of US democracy’s vulnerabilities has grave implications for the cause of global freedom. Rulers and propagandists in authoritarian states have always pointed to America’s domestic flaws to deflect attention from their own abuses, but the events of the past year will give them ample new fodder for this tactic, and the evidence they cite will remain in the world’s collective memory for a long time to come. After the Capitol riot, a spokesperson from the Russian foreign ministry stated, “The events in Washington show that the US electoral process is archaic, does not meet modern standards, and is prone to violations.” Zimbabwe’s president said the incident “showed that the US has no moral right to punish another nation under the guise of upholding democracy.”

Wednesday, March 3, 2021


Our forthcoming book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses Trump's policies.

While manufacturing jobs declined from 32% of total employment in 1953 to 8.7% in 2015, manufacturing as a share of real gross domestic product has remained virtually constant due to increases in productivity.

As Mr. Trump found when he imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum, the resulting increase in jobs in those industries was small. This shouldn’t have come as a surprise: In 1980 it took 10.1 man-hours to produce a ton of steel. Thanks to automation, that was down to 1.5 man-hours a ton in 2017, with some steel makers achieving 0.5. Jobs gained in the steel and aluminum industries after the tariffs were dwarfed by jobs lost in industries that use steel and aluminum in their manufacturing process, not to mention the jobs lost due to foreign trade retaliation.

The uncertainty concerning which industry would be hurt next caused private investment to decline across the economy. GDP growth, which had been accelerating in 2017 and 2018, fell 20% in 2019, from 2.9% to 2.3%, in line with the Congressional Budget Office estimates of the negative effect of the protectionist policies.

Protectionism even hurt manufacturing in the states it was supposed to help. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, manufacturing employment in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which had increased in 2017 and 2018, started to fall in 2019 as the trade war intensified.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021


Jonathan Martin at NYT:
In his remarks later in the day, Mr. Trump sought to explain “Trumpism” — “what it means is great deals,” he ventured — but his would-be heirs plainly recognize that the core of his appeal is more affect than agenda.

Beyond the former president, no two Republicans in attendance drew a more fervent response than Mr. DeSantis and Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota, two former House members turned first-term governors.

Neither sketched out a new policy agenda or presented a fresh vision for a party that has won the national popular vote just once in over 30 years. Rather, they drew repeated ovations for what they share in common: a shared sense of victimhood over media criticism for their handling of the coronavirus crisis and a pugnacious contempt for public health experts who have urged more aggressive restrictions in their states.

“I don’t know if you agree with me, but Dr. Fauci is wrong a lot,” Ms. Noem said in her remarks, referring to the country’s top infectious disease expert. The statement brought attendees to their feet, even as she glossed over her state’s high mortality rate during the pandemic.

[In the 2016 cycle, Noem -- like Nikki Haley -- was an early supporter of Marco Rubio.] 

Michael Gerson at WP:

The party has been swiftly repositioned as an instrument of white grievance. It refuses to condemn racists within its congressional ranks. Its main national legislative agenda seems to be the suppression of minority voting. Trumpism is defined by the belief that real Americans are beset by internal threats from migrants, Muslims, multiculturalists, Black Lives Matter activists, antifa militants and various thugs, gangbangers and whiners. And Zubatov is correct that this viewpoint implies and requires dehumanization; resisting our animal instincts is the evidence of political correctness. The whole Trump movement, and now most of the Republican Party, is premised on the social sanctification of pre-cognitive fears and disgust.

Yet the largest single group within the new GOP coalition is comprised of people who claim to be evangelical Christians. And the view of human beings implied by Trumpism is a direct negation of Christian teaching (as well as many other systems of belief). Christians are informed — not by political correctness, but by Jesus — that every addict and homeless person you might encounter on a nocturnal walk in New York is the presence of Christ in disguise. And the parable He told in Matthew 25 illustrating this point is a rather stern one. Those who follow their pre-cognitive disgust and refuse to treat the hungry, the stranger, the sick and imprisoned as they would Christ are told: “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”


Monday, March 1, 2021

Trump at CPAC

Our forthcoming book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the parties.

The state of the GOP is not good.

 From Trump's speech to CPAC.

Repeating the Big Lie:

Actually, as you know, they just lost the White House, but it’s one of those. But who knows? Who knows, I may even decide to beat them for a third time, okay?


We have a very sick and corrupt electoral process that must be fixed immediately. This election was rigged and the Supreme Court and other courts didn’t want to do anything about it.

We did. If you just take that one element where they didn’t go through a legislature, it’s illegal, you can’t do it. It’s in the constitution. They didn’t have the courage, the supreme court, they didn’t have the courage to act, but instead used process and lack of standing. I was told the President of the United States has no standing. It’s my election, it’s your election. We have no standing. We had almost 25 … if you think of it … we had almost 20 states go into the supreme court so that we didn’t have a standing problem. They rejected it. They rejected it. They should be ashamed of themselves for what they’ve done to our country. They didn’t have the guts or the courage to make the right decision. They didn’t want to talk about it. We had the case led by the great State of Texas. 18 States went in. “You don’t have standing.” Let’s not talk about it. They didn’t have the guts to do what should be done.


The Democrats don’t have grand-standers like Mitt Romney, little Ben Sasse, Richard Burr, Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Pat Toomey; and in the House, Tom Rice, South Carolina, Adam Kinzinger, Dan Newhouse, Anthony Gonzalez. That’s another beauty. Fred Upton, Jamie Herrera Butler, Peter Meijer, John Katko, David Valadao. And of course the warmonger, a person that loves seeing our troops fighting, Liz Cheney. How about that? The good news is in her state, she’s been censured. And in her state, her poll numbers have dropped faster than any human being I’ve ever seen. So hopefully, they’ll get rid of her with the next election. Get rid of them all.

Democrats are vicious. Remember this. It’s true. Democrats are vicious. He said evil. Well, there is evil there, but they’re vicious. They’re smart. And they do one thing. You’ve got to hand it to them. They always stick together. You don’t have Mitt Romney’s in the group. They always stick together. Fortunately for the Republican party, the Democrats have horrible policies like open borders, sanctuary cities, defunding the police and the ridiculous, totally ridiculous Green New Deal. So they stick together. They’re smart. They’re vicious. They’ve got everything going, but their policies are no good. So hence we have, congratulations, the Republican Party. After this, they may not stick with those policies. We have to be careful. No, their policies are horrible. Think of it. Defund the police. How did that work out?

Sunday, February 28, 2021

White Right

Our forthcoming book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the parties.  GOP conservatism is in intellectual decline.

At New York, Ben Jacobs notes that CPAC has abandoned libertarian policy debate in favor of culture-war red meat.  The GOP and the conservative movement have a dark European flavor.

Another sign of the Europeanization of the American conservatism was the growing presence of the international far right at the conference — and even the looming specter of white nationalism. There were recorded video messages from Eduardo Bolsonaro, the son of Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, as well as hard-right politicians in Spain and Croatia. During breaks in the conference, a video from “samurai futurologist” Gemki Fuji repeatedly played proclaiming Trump to be “a real American samurai” while a right-wing South Korean politician claimed his country saw left-wing voter fraud too.

 Perhaps most unsettling was the appearance of Congressman Paul Gosar of Arizona on Saturday. Gosar, a hard right-wing backbencher who touted false claims of voter fraud before the assault on the Capitol on January 6, appeared on a panel on immigration less than 12 hours after appearing at a parallel but separate white-nationalist event sponsored by those who found CPAC full of squishy sellouts.

At that gathering, the six-term Arizona Republican’s speech was followed by remarks from a Holocaust denier who said America needed to protect its “white demographic core” and called the attack on the Capitol “awesome.” While onstage at CPAC, Gosar’s first remarks, without prompting, were “I want to tell you, I denounce . . . white racism” before shifting to the topic at hand.


 The party of Lincoln is looking more and more like the party of Le Pen.

Charles Sykes at The Bulwark:
This piece actually appears in the uber-Trumpy American Greatness, a journal with intellectual pretensions, and numerous connections to TrumpWorld.

The author, Alexander Zubatov, opens with a dystopian scene of New York City.
It is evening, very late evening. I am walking in the remains of what once was New York City. Broken trash bags and discarded clothing, furniture and debris line the sidewalks, spilling out onto the streets, the bags’ black plastic jerking and lurching as though some near-suffocated life within were struggling to break free of confinement.
But his loathing — his unalloyed contempt — is reserved for the people he encounters. He simply cannot accept their humanity.
The first higher species of being I come across is only a shadow of any such description—a teetering, drooling zombie barely maintaining the accustomed vertical orientation of humanity—its head, neck, and back doubling over further and further, heavy eyelids drooping down time and again on the remaining vestiges of any consciousness to which it only weakly clings. I hear a dead moan as I pass.
His language is not veiled or ambiguous. He refers to people as “it” and “specimens.” They are ”lazy leeches, slugs, thugs” who claim to be the victims of white people. He describes “two brown bums,” who dance “like ungainly insects,” and encounters a “sunken-cheeked Arab”. Everyone is described by the color of their skin or their ethnicity.

“I navigate around one such specimen transecting the middle of the sidewalk, with the telltale final bottle capping off its drunken stupor still clasped in its gnarled fingers.”

It would be alarming, but not shocking, if this appeared in a marginal publication deep in the fever swamps of the white nationalist Alt Right. If we found it, for example, on Stormfront, it would barely merit mention.

But this racist rant about human scum and whips appears in a publication whose contributors include such right-wing luminaries as Victor David Hanson, Roger Kimball, Conrad Black, Salena Zito, Josh Hammer (who is also Newsweek’s opinion editor), Michael Anton, Ned Ryun, and Dennis Prager.

In other words, it is smack in the middle of the Trumpian Right.

And this is not a one-off. Some years back, American Greatness published something called “Cuck Elegy,” which was accurately described by the Washington Examiner as “an alt-right piece of literotica masquerading as a poem.”

It was also raw, undiluted racism:
This is the Capitalist Pentecost
Submit to the modernist’s spirit of avarice
Defer now to the mocha-skinned Lazarus


Exit take: Yes, the right has a white supremacy problem. But there are few signs that it will take Cheney’s warning seriously.


Saturday, February 27, 2021

Incumbent Reelection in State Legislative Elections

Our forthcoming book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses state legislative elections.

From Ballotpedia:

Two-hundred and twenty seven incumbent state legislators lost re-election in general elections on Nov. 3, 2020. This represents 4.7% of all state legislative incumbents who ran in general elections