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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Trumpism: Resentment and Perfomative Aggressive

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

Julia Azari at FiveThirtyEight:

The thing is, Trump does represent an idea that has appealed to some of his party’s voters: politics based on grievance, especially when linked to white identity. Trump has emerged as a powerful leader to this movement, claiming that the 2020 election was stolen, that the media and tech companies seek to silence voices on the right, and that institutions no longer work for “ordinary” (read: white) Americans. And while many establishment GOP members don’t agree with some of Trump’s more extreme words and actions, they have continued to defend him, or, at the very least, not really distance themselves from him. The upcoming impeachment trial and the fact that most GOP senators are likely to vote against his conviction speak to a long pattern left over from when Trump was still in office: criticize Trump’s actions, but ultimately don’t disavow him.
Kristen Soltis Anderson at The Washington Examiner:
In my research, whenever I speak to Republican voters, they will often acknowledge there are things they do not love or would change about Trump. Perhaps there are positions of his with which they disagree. But they stick with him because he fights.

This is also how Trump himself approaches things. Consider this blockbuster Axios account of an Oval Office meeting in the final days of Trump’s presidency, where lawyer Sidney Powell allegedly pushed him to use national security powers to seize voting machines. Powell’s argument to Trump is effectively Trump’s argument for himself to his own supporters about the rest of the GOP: “They're not willing to fight for you because they don't want to get their hands dirty.”

In this account, Trump acknowledges that Powell and her team have been sloppy in their handling of the legal fight and is not completely sold on her wild claims. Nevertheless: “Trump expressed skepticism at various points about Powell's theories, but he said, 'At least she’s out there fighting.'"
Republicans believe the stakes these days couldn’t be higher. When asked if they think politics is more about enacting public policy or ensuring the survival of the country as we know it, Republicans are more likely than Democrats to view politics these days as a fight for survival — and Republicans who think of themselves as Trump supporters first and foremost are the most likely to hold that view.

Trump’s legacy in the party isn’t policy, and it isn’t a person. It’s a posture — a fighting posture in a moment where Republicans think the fight is what matters most.