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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Foreign Money

The DOJ announced charges in September against Republican operatives Jesse Benton and Doug Wead for allegedly funneling money from a Russian national to the Trump campaign’s joint fundraising committee in a straw donor scheme.

On Oct. 12, the FEC unsealed a signed conciliation agreement in which the pro-Trump Great America PAC agreed to pay a $25,000 fine after Benton allegedly solicited $2 million in 2016 from Telegraph journalists posing as representatives of a Chinese national.

In a recording released by The Telegraph, Benton can be heard describing how a foreign national could pass a $2 million contribution to the PAC through shell companies and 501(c)(4) nonprofit dark money groups.

The FEC charged Benton with knowingly soliciting illegal funds from a foreign national but Benton declined to cooperate with the FEC’s investigation and chose not to enter into conciliation because of due process issues. The FEC ultimately deadlocked on whether to pursue the matter further.

In December 2020, Benton was pardoned by Trump on charges tied to hiding bribes in an unrelated 2012 campaign finance scandal. At the time, Benton allegedly paid a vendor who then paid a subvendor, violating the FEC’s ultimate vendor disclosure rules.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

The Paramilitary Wing of the Coup Plot

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the partiesThe state of the GOP is not good. Trump and his minions falsely claimed that he won the election, and have kept repeating the Big Lie.  And we now know how close he came to subverting the Constitution.

Josh Dawsey, Jacqueline Alemany, Jon Swaine and Emma Brown at WP:

As Vice President Mike Pence hid from a marauding mob during the Jan. 6 invasion of the Capitol, an attorney for President Donald Trump emailed a top Pence aide to say that Pence had caused the violence by refusing to block certification of Trump’s election loss.

The attorney, John C. Eastman, also continued to press for Pence to act even after Trump’s supporters had trampled through the Capitol — an attack the Pence aide, Greg Jacob, had described as a “siege” in their email exchange.

“The ‘siege’ is because YOU and your boss did not do what was necessary to allow this to be aired in a public way so that the American people can see for themselves what happened,” Eastman wrote to Jacob, referring to Trump’s claims of voter fraud.

Eastman sent the email as Pence, who had been presiding in the Senate, was under guard with Jacob and other advisers in a secure area. Rioters were tearing through the Capitol complex, some of them calling for Pence to be executed.

 Josh Marshall nails it:

These exchanges capture something we suspect and know in some way. But here we’re getting the details, the documentary evidence. Eastman didn’t recoil when the President’s rally descended escalated to violence. He clearly saw the inside coup plot and the insurrectionists on the street as part of the same effort. This isn’t surprising to most of us. The insurrectionists were laying siege to Pence in the Capitol because Pence wasn’t going along with the plan. And the answer was to go along with the plan. He recognized the insurrection as the paramilitary wing of the coup plot he was part of and as the Capitol was under siege used it as a cudgel to force Pence’s hand.

Friday, October 29, 2021

Base Race in Virginia

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses state elections.  The 2021 Virginia governor's race is a  curtain-raiser for the midterms.

Robert Tracinski at The Bulwark:
In Virginia, we’re in the home stretch of a campaign for governor that may set the tone for national politics for the next three years. If so, it’s going to be a long three years.

On the Republican side is Glenn Youngkin, a businessman who, if left to his own devices, would probably be a conventional, old-fashioned, moderate Republican perfectly tailored for voters in Northern Virginia. But these days, the price of admission to Republican politics is fealty to the myth that Donald Trump really won the 2020 election and it was stolen from him. Youngkin never quite went all the way on election trutherism, but he sure did play footsie with it.

Yet his Democratic opponent, former governor Terry McAuliffe—a Virginia governor can serve two terms, but not consecutively—has engaged in some election trutherism of his own, more recently on behalf of Stacey Abrams and more famously on behalf of Al Gore.

It’s one of those matchups that have you wondering whether either party is capable of nominating a candidate who isn’t compromised by his base. This elemental fact set the pattern for the rest of the campaign, including an unexpected fight over who controls the public schools.

If McAuliffe loses in a state that voted by a wide margin for Joe Biden last year, it will be because of a gaffe which fits the usual puckish definition: a politician accidentally telling the truth. In this case, the truth was that McAuliffe does not believe parents should have much say about what is taught to their kids in public schools.

“I’m not going to let parents come into schools and actually take books out and make their own decision,” McAuliffe said during the debate. “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”

There is a case to be made that individual parents shouldn’t be able to dictate the content of public school curriculum for everyone else. But McAuliffe conveyed a wider sense that public schools are not answerable to the public—and then the Democrats and the teachers’ unions doubled down on it.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

An Open Letter in Defense of Democracy

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.  Our next book, Divided We Stand, looks at the 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection.  Some Republican leaders -- and a measurable number of rank-and-file voters -- are open to violent rebellioncoups, and secession.  

[This open letter is being published simultaneously by The Bulwark and the New Republic.]

We are writers, academics, and political activists who have long disagreed about many things.

Some of us are Democrats and others Republicans. Some identify with the left, some with the right, and some with neither. We have disagreed in the past, and we hope to be able to disagree, productively, for years to come. Because we believe in the pluralism that is at the heart of democracy.

But right now we agree on a fundamental point: We need to join together to defend liberal democracy.

Because liberal democracy itself is in serious danger. Liberal democracy depends on free and fair elections, respect for the rights of others, the rule of law, a commitment to truth and tolerance in our public discourse. All of these are now in serious danger.

The primary source of this danger is one of our two major national parties, the Republican Party, which remains under the sway of Donald Trump and Trumpist authoritarianism. Unimpeded by Trump’s defeat in 2020 and unfazed by the January 6 insurrection, Trump and his supporters actively work to exploit anxieties and prejudices, to promote reckless hostility to the truth and to Americans who disagree with them, and to discredit the very practice of free and fair elections in which winners and losers respect the peaceful transfer of power.

So we, who have differed on so much in the past—and who continue to differ on much today—have come together to say:

We vigorously oppose ongoing Republican efforts to change state election laws to limit voter participation.

We vigorously oppose ongoing Republican efforts to empower state legislatures to override duly appointed election officials and interfere with the proper certification of election results, thereby substituting their own political preferences for those expressed by citizens at the polls.

We vigorously oppose the relentless and unending promotion of unprofessional and phony “election audits” that waste public money, jeopardize public electoral data and voting machines, and generate paranoia about the legitimacy of elections.

We urge the Democratic-controlled Congress to pass effective, national legislation to protect the vote and our elections, and if necessary to override the Senate filibuster rule.

And we urge all responsible citizens who care about democracy—public officials, journalists, educators, activists, ordinary citizens—to make the defense of democracy an urgent priority now.

Now is the time for leaders in all walks of life—for citizens of all political backgrounds and persuasions—to come to the aid of the Republic.

Todd Gitlin
Professor of Journalism, Sociology and Communications
Columbia University

Jeffrey C. Isaac
James H. Rudy Professor of Political Science
Indiana University, Bloomington

William Kristol
Editor at Large, The Bulwark
Director, Defending Democracy Together

Affiliations listed for identification purposes only.

Sheri Berman
Professor of Political Science
Barnard College

Max Boot
Senior Fellow
Council on Foreign Relations

James Carroll

Leo Casey
Assistant to the President
American Federation of Teachers

Mona Charen
Policy Editor
The Bulwark

Noam Chomsky
Institute Professor and Professor of Linguistics Emeritus
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Jelani Cobb
Professor of Journalism
Columbia University

Eliot A. Cohen
Robert E. Osgood Professor
Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies

David Cole
National Legal Director
American Civil Liberties Union

Laura K. Field
Senior Fellow
Niskanen Center

Carolyn Forché
University Professor
Georgetown University

Francis Fukuyama
Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow
Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
Stanford University

William A. Galston
Senior Fellow
Brookings Institution

Jeffrey C. Goldfarb
Michael E. Gellert Professor Emeritus
New School for Social Research

Hahrie Hahn
Stavros Niarchos Foundation Professor of Political Science
Director, SNF Agora Institute
Johns Hopkins University

Roya Hakakian

John Judis

Ira Katznelson
Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History
Columbia University

Michael Kazin
Professor of History
Georgetown University

Randall Kennedy
Michael R. Klein Professor of Law
Harvard University

Steven R. Levitsky
Professor of Government
Harvard University

Robert Jay Lifton, M.D.
Psychiatrist and author

Susie Linfield
Professor of Journalism
New York University

Damon Linker
Senior Correspondent
The Week

Dahlia Lithwick
Senior Editor

Jane Mansbridge
Charles F. Adams Professor, Emerita
Harvard Kennedy School

Win McCormack
Editor in Chief
The New Republic

John McWhorter
Professor of Linguistics
Columbia University

Deborah Meier

James Miller
Professor of Politics and Liberal Studies
New School for Social Research

Susan Neiman
Einstein Forum

Nell Irvin Painter
Edwards Professor of American History Emerita
Princeton University

Rick Perlstein

Katha Pollitt

Claire Potter
Professor of History
New School for Social Research

Jedediah Purdy
William S. Beinecke Professor of Law
Columbia University

Jonathan Rauch
Senior Fellow
Brookings Institution

Adolph Reed
Emeritus Professor of Political Science
University of Pennsylvania

Kim Lane Scheppele
Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Sociology and International Affairs
Princeton University

Charles Sykes
Founder and Editor at Large
The Bulwark

George Thomas
Burnet C. Wohlford Professor of American Political Institutions
Claremont McKenna College

Michael Tomasky
Editor, The New Republic
Editor, Democracy: A Journal of Ideas

Jeffrey K. Tulis
Professor of Government and Law
University of Texas

Joan Walsh
The Nation

Michael Walzer
Professor Emeritus of Social Science
Institute for Advanced Study

Dorian T. Warren
Community Change

Sean Wilentz
George Henry Davis 1886 Professor of American History
Princeton University

Benjamin Wittes
Senior Fellow
Brookings Institution

Todd Gitlin, Jeffrey C. Isaac, and William Kristol
Todd Gitlin is a professor of journalism, sociology and communications at Columbia University. Jeffrey C. Isaac is the James H. Rudy Professor of Political Science at Indiana University, Bloomington. William Kristol is the editor at large of The Bulwark and the director of Defending Democracy Together.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Trumpism Update

 Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the partiesThe state of the GOP is not good. Trump and his minions falsely claimed that he won the election, and have kept repeating the Big Lie.  And we now know how close he came to subverting the Constitution.

David Gilbert and Cameron Joseph at VICE:
A coalition of right-wing MAGA candidates, including multiple Trump-backed candidates, are seeking to take control of elections in states across the U.S.—and one says they’re formally working with a group of conspiracy theorists, as well as with a QAnon influencer who some in the conspiracy movement believe is John F. Kennedy Jr. in disguise.

The group consists of five GOP candidates running for the key election position of secretary of state in Arizona, Nevada, Michigan, Georgia, and California, as well as one Pennsylvania lawmaker who may run for governor, which in Pennsylvania appoints the secretary of state. According to one of the candidates, it also has support from wealthy conspiracy theorists Mike Lindell and Patrick Byrne.

The reported coalition is just the latest example of how extreme QAnon-inspired conspiracy theories about election fraud and vote-rigging have become pervasive in the Republican Party, and how those conspiracies are now driving this group to seek to take control of key election positions across the country ahead of the 2024 election.

The existence of the group, which doesn’t seem to have a name, was revealed by Nevada secretary of state candidate Jim Marchant at the “For God & Country: Patriot Double Down” conference that took place in Las Vegas over the weekend.

Marchant, a former Nevada state legislator who lost a hotly contested race for Congress in 2020, told the crowd that the genesis for the coalition began on November 4 last year, the day after he lost to Rep. Steven Hosford in the race for a House seat. Like Trump, Marchant claims the election was stolen from him. And so, in his words, he “got to work.”

“I got a suite in the Venetian hotel across the hall from the Trump attorneys and the Trump people that came in to start investigating the election fraud here in Nevada,” Marchant said Monday. “And guess who showed up at my suite? Juan O Savin.”

Savin is the alias for an anonymous QAnon influencer and author who until this weekend never showed his face in public and was best known because some QAnon followers believed he was JFK Jr. in disguise.

Laura Field at TNR:

On Halloween, the second National Conservatism conference, or NatCon II, will kick off in Orlando, Florida. It is hard to know quite what to make of the lineup for the three-day fest, which boasts a few household names (Senators Josh Hawley and Marco Rubio are both keynote speakers), but also features conspiracist Jack Posobiec of Pizzagate fame. One through line, with a few exceptions, is support for Donald Trump. But the animating ideas come less from the ex-president than from a disparate group of formerly obscure academics.

Media coverage of the Trump phenomenon typically begins and ends with the base—the coal miner at the Midwestern diner, or the MAGA rally crowd. We don’t talk much about the professors.

Since 2016, an array of little-known conservative intellectuals and think tank sorts have emerged as powerful voices in Trump’s Republican Party. Zealous opposition to immigration and so-called woke culture stoked their political ambition. They lent a veneer of much-needed respectability to the Trump administration. And now, despite some genuine theoretical differences, the group is coalescing around an illiberal political project—not just espousing typical conservative policy preferences, but standing against liberal, constitutional democracy in the traditional, nonpartisan sense. Some of the most prominent intellectual voices on the right are openly consolidating around the notion that America needs a radical political transformation, away from rule by and for “We the People” and toward something more top-down and monolithic. At its essence, NatCon II is an opportunity for the big names in this movement to offer a dressed-up, sublimating version of Trumpism.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Evangelical as Political Team Jersey, Not Religion

 In Defying the Odds, we talk about the social and economic divides that enabled Trump to enter the White House. In Divided We Stand, we discuss how these divides played out in 2020.  

Ryan Burge at NYT:

What is drawing more people to embrace the evangelical label on surveys is more likely that evangelicalism has been bound to the Republican Party. Instead of theological affinity for Jesus Christ, millions of Americans are being drawn to the evangelical label because of its association with the G.O.P.

This is happening in two different ways. The first is that many Americans who have begun to embrace the evangelical identity are people who hardly ever attend religious services. For instance, in 2008, just 16 percent of all self-identified evangelicals reported their church attendance as never or seldom. But in 2020, that number jumped to 27 percent. In 2008, about a third of evangelicals who never attended church said they were politically conservative. By 2019, that had risen to about 50 percent.


The second factor bolstering evangelicalism on surveys is that more people are embracing the label who have no attachment to Protestant Christianity. For example, the share of Catholics who also identified as evangelicals (or born again) rose to 15 percent in 2018 from 9 percent in 2008. That same pattern appears with Muslims. In fact, there’s evidence that the share of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Orthodox Christianity and Hinduism who identify as evangelical is larger today than it was just a decade ago.


Monday, October 25, 2021

Congressional Complicity

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the partiesThe state of the GOP is not good. Trump and his minions falsely claimed that he won the election, and have kept repeating the Big Lie.  And we now know how close he came to subverting the Constitution.

Hunter Walker at Rolling Stone:
As the House investigation into the Jan. 6 attack heats up, some of the planners of the pro-Trump rallies that took place in Washington, D.C., have begun communicating with congressional investigators and sharing new information about what happened when the former president’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. Two of these people have spoken to Rolling Stone extensively in recent weeks and detailed explosive allegations that multiple members of Congress were intimately involved in planning both Trump’s efforts to overturn his election loss and the Jan. 6 events that turned violent.


Along with Greene, the conspiratorial pro-Trump Republican from Georgia who took office earlier this year, the pair both say the members who participated in these conversations or had top staffers join in included Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas).

“We would talk to Boebert’s team, Cawthorn’s team, Gosar’s team like back to back to back to back,” says the organizer.

And Gosar, who has been one of the most prominent defenders of the Jan. 6 rioters, allegedly took things a step further. Both sources say he dangled the possibility of a “blanket pardon” in an unrelated ongoing investigation to encourage them to plan the protests.

“Our impression was that it was a done deal,” the organizer says, “that he’d spoken to the president about it in the Oval … in a meeting about pardons and that our names came up. They were working on submitting the paperwork and getting members of the House Freedom Caucus to sign on as a show of support.”

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Early Voting in Virginia

Trip Gabriel at NYT:
[Glenn] Youngkin, a former financial executive who reminds many of an even-tempered Mitt Romney more than the bullying Trump, has still catered to the Trump base that believes the former president’s election conspiracy theories.

Youngkin early on said his top issue was “election integrity,” code for the false view that the 2020 vote was stolen, and he offered supporters a “membership card” in his Election Integrity Task Force. He campaigned with State Senator Amanda Chase, a prolific spreader of conspiracy theories about Jan. 6. This month he said voting machines should be audited, even though Virginia’s Elections Department audited machines after the 2020 vote and confirmed the results. (Trump lost by 10 points.)

Still, Youngkin has invested heavily in turning out his supporters early, a strategy at which Republicans once excelled in many places. An early vote, cast in person or by mail, means a campaign doesn’t have to pursue that voter with phone calls and door knocks in the final frenzied weeks.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

January 6 at the Willard

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the partiesThe state of the GOP is not good. Trump and his minions falsely claimed that he won the election, and have kept repeating the Big Lie.  And we now know how close he came to subverting the Constitution.

 Jacqueline Alemany and colleagues at WP:

They called it the “command center,” a set of rooms and suites in the posh Willard hotel a block from the White House where some of President Donald Trump’s most loyal lieutenants were working day and night with one goal in mind: overturning the results of the 2020 election.

The Jan. 6 rally on the Ellipse and the ensuing attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob would draw the world’s attention to the quest to physically block Congress from affirming Joe Biden’s victory. But the activities at the Willard that week add to an emerging picture of a less visible effort, mapped out in memos by a conservative pro-Trump legal scholar and pursued by a team of presidential advisers and lawyers seeking to pull off what they claim was a legal strategy to reinstate Trump for a second term.

They were led by Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani. Former chief White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon was an occasional presence as the effort’s senior political adviser. Former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik was there as an investigator. Also present was John Eastman, the scholar, who outlined scenarios for denying Biden the presidency in an Oval Office meeting on Jan. 4 with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

A plausible hypothesis is that the idea was to delay the count so that Trumpists in the states could provide "evidence" or "alternative slates" that would give Pence a rationale to carry out the Eastman plan.

When the violence erupted a short time later, forcing Congress into recess, some of the most ardent Trump supporters saw an opportunity.

“Congress is adjourned. Send the elector choice back to the legislatures,” Kelli Ward, chair of the Arizona GOP, tweeted at 3:30 p.m., more than half an hour after insurrectionists in tactical gear made their way to the floor of the Senate.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Cheney and the GOP

Jonathan Martin at NYT:

A prominent Washington lobbyist close to Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader, is warning Republican political consultants that they must choose between working for Representative Liz Cheney or Mr. McCarthy, an ultimatum that marks the full rupture between the two House Republicans.

Jeff Miller, the lobbyist and a confidant of Mr. McCarthy’s dating to their youthful days in California politics, has conveyed this us-or-her message to Republican strategists in recent weeks, prompting one fund-raising firm to disassociate itself from Ms. Cheney, a Republican from Wyoming.

In response, The Morning Group, a fund-raising firm she hired to help prepare for a primary next year against a challenger endorsed by former President Donald J. Trump, informed her last month they could no longer work on her campaign, according to Republicans familiar with the matter.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Oath Keepers, QAnon, and the GOP

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.  Our next book, Divided We Stand, looks at the 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection.  Some Republican leaders -- and a measurable number of rank-and-file voters -- are open to the idea of violent rebellion. 

The liberal watchdog group Media Matters has identified 45 people already running for Congress who’ve promoted QAnon theories, as well as eight gubernatorial candidates and many more legislative candidates. Most are fringe candidates who won’t win their primaries, much less their elections. But the sheer number shows how deeply QAnon has sunk its teeth into the GOP.

“You’ve had an increase in QAnon-believing candidates out there coupled with Trump echoing and validating a lot of the sentiments,” Media Matters President Angelo Carusone told VICE News.

Isaac Arnsdorf at Pro Publica:
North Carolina state representative Mike Clampitt swore an oath to uphold the Constitution after his election in 2016 and again in 2020. But there’s another pledge that Clampitt said he’s upholding: to the Oath Keepers, a right-wing militant organization.

Dozens of Oath Keepers have been arrested in connection to the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, some of them looking like a paramilitary group, wearing camo helmets and flak vests. But a list of more than 35,000 members of the Oath Keepers — obtained by an anonymous hacker and shared with ProPublica by the whistleblower group Distributed Denial of Secrets — underscores how the organization is evolving into a force within the Republican Party.

ProPublica identified Clampitt and 47 more state and local government officials on the list, all Republicans: 10 sitting state lawmakers; two former state representatives; one current state assembly candidate; a state legislative aide; a city council assistant; county commissioners in Indiana, Arizona and North Carolina; two town aldermen; sheriffs or constables in Montana, Texas and Kentucky; state investigators in Texas and Louisiana; and a New Jersey town’s public works director.

ProPublica’s analysis also found more than 400 people who signed up for membership or newsletters using government, military or political campaign email addresses, including candidates for Congress and sheriff, a retired assistant school superintendent in Alabama, and an award-winning elementary school teacher in California.

 Jessica Garrison, Ken Bensinger, and Jeremy Singer at Buzzfeed News:

Over the past dozen years, at least 28 people who currently hold elected office joined or financially supported the Oath Keepers, the extremist group that figured prominently in the violent Jan. 6 storming of the US Capitol, a BuzzFeed News analysis of data from the organization shows.

In the months since the Capitol insurrection, as two dozen people linked to the Oath Keepers have been charged with crimes, including conspiracy, for their roles, several of those elected officials have continued to voice support for the organization. And at least two officials — David Eastman and Mark Finchem of the Alaska and Arizona Houses of Representatives, respectively — were in Washington, DC, on Jan. 6 to protest the certification of Biden’s Electoral College victory. Neither of the men has been charged.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Souls to the Polls

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses state elections.  The 2021 Virginia governor's race is a  curtain-raiser for the midterms.

Asher Notheis at Yahoo:
Hundreds of churches across Virginia are set to air a political ad starring Vice President Kamala Harris — a move that has raised eyebrows regarding the legality of bringing political campaigns into houses of worship.

Between Oct. 17 and Nov. 2, a video featuring Harris will play during the morning services of over 300 black churches across Virginia. In the video, Harris encourages viewers to vote for gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe in the upcoming election, according to CNN.

"I believe that my friend Terry McAuliffe is the leader Virginia needs at this moment," Harris says in the video. "Terry McAuliffe has a long track record of getting things done for the people of Virginia."

The video is only one part of McAuliffe's religiously minded "Souls to the Polls" media blitz. The "Souls to the Polls" events will be hosted weekly and are intended to encourage residents to vote on Sundays, with the first event held on Oct. 17, according to 10 Wavy.

The announcement generated controversy on social media, with many questioning if playing the video at church violates laws against political partisanship by religious institutions.


Monday, October 18, 2021

Elected Insurrectionists Paid No Price

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.  Our next book, Divided We Stand, looks at the 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection.  Some Republican leaders -- and a measurable number of rank-and-file voters -- are open to violent rebellioncoups, and secession.  

 Ruby Cramer at Politico:

Over the month that followed, the DLCC set aside a modest sum to run digital ads about the insurrection in Pennsylvania, Arizona and Michigan — “Republican legislators fanned the flames. Some were even there,” the narrator says over images of destruction. As the campaign grew, expanding to any state lawmakers who propagated claims of a “rigged election” or lobbied the courts to overturn the race, the DLCC’s two-person research team sifted through local news clips, through “Stop the Steal” hashtags on Twitter, through signatures on legal briefs and letters to Congress. They collected email responses to an “insurrectionist” tip line and the video footage assembled and dissected by the obsessives who became known as Sedition Hunters. Ernest Bailey, a young researcher on staff compiled the names in internal spreadsheets.

In the end, the list grew to 21 lawmakers who fit the DLCC’s broad definition of “insurrectionist” — everything from attending the rally to joining the demonstrations on Capitol grounds — and another nearly 600 who promoted “Stop the Steal” rhetoric or signed letters or briefs calling to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Based on the current count of state houses across the country, the DLCC’s group represented more than 15 percent of all state-level Republican lawmakers.

And nothing happened.

As of this month, the only Republican legislator to step down is Derrick Evans, a West Virginia delegate who live-streamed himself entering the Capitol while shouting “We’re in! We’re in! Derrick Evans is in the Capitol!” He resigned after he was arrested on Jan. 8.

Rather than shaming Republican state lawmakers out of office, Democrats found that many of the names on the list avoided pushback from party leaders in their state, grew their political platform and online following, and in at least three cases are now running for statewide office under the banner of former President Donald Trump and his lies about election fraud.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Midterm Money

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses campaign finance.

Shane Goldmacher at NYT:

A dizzying amount of money is already pouring into the battles for the House and the Senate more than a year before the 2022 elections, as Republicans are bullish on their chances to take over both chambers in the first midterm election under President Biden, given the narrow margins keeping Democrats in power.

The two parties’ main war chests for the House total a combined $128 million — more than double the sum at this point in the 2020 cycle and far surpassing every other previous one. Top House members are now raising $1 million or more per quarter. And more than two dozen senators and Senate candidates topped that threshold.

Candidate after candidate, and the parties themselves, are posting record-breaking sums, even as the shapes of most House districts nationwide remain in flux because of delays in the once-a-decade redrawing of boundaries.

In Georgia, Senator Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, raised more than $100,000 per day in the last three months for a $9.5 million haul. But his leading Republican rival, Herschel Walker, the former football player who was urged to run by former President Donald J. Trump, raised $3.7 million in a little more than a month, setting up a potentially bruising and expensive contest in that key state.

The country’s increasingly polarized electorate has been hyper-engaged in politics since the Trump era began, and the ease of channeling that energy into donations online is remaking how campaigns are funded. The online donation clearinghouses for the two parties, ActBlue and WinRed, processed a combined total of more than $450 million in the third quarter.


Friday, October 15, 2021

Don't Vote, continued

Our 2020 book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the partiesThe state of the GOP is not good. 

Josh Dawsey and Michael Scherer at WP:
Former president Donald Trump has in the past week threatened electoral defeat for Republicans who dismiss his election falsehoods, inserted himself into the Virginia governor’s race to the delight of Democrats, and promised to root out disloyal GOP officials in legislative primaries in Arizona and Michigan.

With more than a year to go before the midterm elections, the former president is leaving no corner of the party untouched as he moves to assert his dominance, both in public and behind the scenes. His stepped-up efforts create a conundrum for many of the party’s strategists and lawmakers, who believe they could have a banner election year in 2022 if they keep the focus on President Biden and his agenda.

But Trump has repeatedly turned the focus back onto the 2020 election. He moved into new territory Wednesday when he released a statement threatening the GOP with ballot-box repercussions if candidates do not embrace his false claims that the White House race was rigged.

“If we don’t solve the Presidential Election Fraud of 2020 (which we have thoroughly and conclusively documented), Republicans will not be voting in ’22 or ’24,” Trump said, part of a barrage of statements on the election and the Jan. 6 Capitol attack that he sent out this week. “It is the single most important thing for Republicans to do.”

The former president’s threat drew winces among GOP operatives and U.S. senators gathered for a donor retreat for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) in Palm Beach, Fla., this week. Many still blame Trump for the loss of two U.S. Senate seats in Georgia in runoff elections early this year, saying his false claims of fraudulent ballots kept people from coming to the polls.

“It gives everyone cold sweats over the Georgia situation and the prospect he could have some impact again,” said one top party strategist, who like others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Trump to Supporters: Don't Vote

Our 2020 book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the partiesThe state of the GOP is not good. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

The Trump Revolution Eats Its Own

Greg Bluestein at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Four years ago, Brian Kemp went to a Cobb County GOP breakfast to launch his campaign for governor to a cheering crowd of supporters. A few weeks ago, the leaders of the county GOP voted to “censure” him for not meeting campaign promises.

The dramatic change highlights more than just the governor’s ongoing struggles with the Republican base after refusing Donald Trump’s entreaties to overturn the results of November’s presidential election. It’s also an example of how pro-Trump activists who emphasize loyalty to the former president have won control of party infrastructure and more influence across the state.

Those Trump-aligned activists showed up in record numbers at party gatherings this year, where they channeled anger over the former president’s defeat into efforts to take control of the machinery of local GOP organizations. That’s happened in at least a dozen counties across the state, including several in metro Atlanta and its exurbs.
It reflects a broader trend as Trump loyalists wage internal war on mainstream Republicans who long controlled the gears of power. Some were encouraged by former Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s call to “take this back village by village” by seizing control of the GOP machinery from the ground up. 

[Bobby Donnelly] had been part of a tea party faction that a decade ago tried to take over the Forsyth GOP and, by 2020, had mostly succeeded. It had wrested control of four of the county’s six executive committee posts. Donnelly had risen to become the party’s vice chair.

In 2021, Donnelly and the rest of the committee’s leaders were wiped out by newcomers motivated by Bannon and others to clean house.

“The funny thing is we were all pro-Trump. It’s a Trump civil war. It’s Trump versus Trump,” said Donnelly, who lost his bid to lead the county GOP.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Party Control of Legislatures

There are twice as many states that have solid, Republican-control legislatures as those with solid, Democratic-controlled ones, according to Quorum's new 2021 State Legislative Trends Report.

Why it matters: The power of state legislatures has been on national display in recent weeks, with Texas and other states passing voting and abortion restrictions and coronavirus-related laws, as well as redrawing election district boundaries for the next decade, writes Axios' Stef Kight.
  • Sixteen states have solid Republican control, compared to eight states with solid Democratic control.
  • Fourteen states have slight Republican control. Eleven states, plus Washington, D.C., have slight Democratic control.
  • Nebraska has the only unicameral legislature, and does not have any formal party alignments — although most members tend to affiliate with state political parties.

Between the lines: The data reveals how much more control Republicans have over state laws in the U.S., but it also shows which states could most easily be flipped.
  • Minnesota, Arizona, New Hampshire, Michigan and Virginia have the slimmest partisan advantages in their state legislatures. Minnesota has only a 3% Democratic advantage, and Virginia 16%.
  • Of the 10 slimmest-state legislature majorities, only three lean Democrat.
  • The rest lean Republican, potentially handing Democrats a shot at taking back legislature control in more states in upcoming elections.

Monday, October 11, 2021

OAN and the Insurrection

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.  Our next book, Divided We Stand, looks at the 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection.

John Shiffman at Reuters:
On January 6, after Trump supporters broke into the U.S. Capitol, an OAN news director cautioned staff via email, “Please DO NOT say ‘Trump Supporters Storm Capitol …’ Simply call them demonstrators or protestors … DO NOT CALL IT A RIOT!!!”

A day later, Herring suggested the riot might be a false-flag operation by the leftwing Antifa movement. “We want to report all the things Antifa did yesterday. I don’t think it was Trump people but lets investigate,” he emailed OAN producers. The Federal Bureau of Investigation says there is no evidence of Antifa involvement in the riot. All but a handful of the some 600 suspects charged so far have been rightwing Trump backers.

The next day, Herring tweeted: “If anyone thinks we will throw the best President America has had, in my 79 years, under the bus, you are wrong. We will continue to give him honest coverage.”

His network went on to support Trump in an unusual way: OAN allowed two reporters to raise $605,000 to help fund a “private” audit of the presidential vote in Arizona, despite Republican officials’ assurances that Biden won the state. According to an OAN executive, they did so with the network’s blessing but in a private capacity.

One of the OAN reporters, Christina Bobb, also worked part-time for the Trump recount legal team, according to a recent deposition by Trump’s then-lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani. An OAN executive confirmed the arrangement. Bobb, a lawyer and former Trump administration official, did not reply to a request for comment.

Five former OAN producers said in interviews that they found the practice of reporters raising funds for events they cover unethical, but said OAN’s move did not surprise them.

“If there was any story involving Trump, we had to only focus on either the positive information or basically create positive information,” said Marissa Gonzales, an OAN producer from 2019 until she resigned in 2020. “It was never, never the full truth.”

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Trump Message v. GOP Message

Our 2020 book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the partiesThe state of the GOP is not good.

 Tara Palmeri at Politico:

“Nine months ago, Republicans were questioning DONALD TRUMP’s place as the lead fixture of their party. Saturday night provided the clearest evidence yet that they want him right there.”

This morning’s must-read piece comes from Meridith McGraw, reporting from Saturday night’s Trump rally in Des Moines, Iowa, where we saw a clear glimpse of two interrelated dynamics that are shaping the GOP as it marches into the 2022 midterms:

1) There’s a big gap between the GOP message and Trump’s message. On Saturday night we heard both from Trump himself — the former when he read the speech that was written for him, and the latter when he said what he really thought.

— The GOP message: “After just nine months under [President JOE] BIDEN, violent criminals and bloodthirsty gangs are taking over our streets; illegal aliens and deadly drug cartels are taking over our borders; inflation is taking over our economy; China’s taking over our jobs; the Taliban has taken over Afghanistan; lunatic leftists are taking over our schools; and radical socialists are taking over our country — and we’re not going to let that happen.”

— Trump’s message: “I’m telling you the single biggest issue, as bad as the border is and it’s horrible, horrible what they’re doing, they’re destroying our country — but as bad as that is, the single biggest issue — the issue that gets the most pull, the most respect, the biggest cheers — is talking about the election fraud of the 2020 presidential election.”

That’s a problem for Republicans. Many of them want to make the midterm elections about the issues — inflation, the border, Afghanistan, etc. — to set the election up as a referendum on Biden’s presidency. Trump doesn’t. The bulk of his speech, Meridith writes, “was devoted to his baseless claim [that] the 2020 election was stolen.” In focusing on that issue above all others, Trump effectively makes the 2022 election a referendum on him instead of Biden.

From McGraw:

 “I don’t mean to be crude,” [Iowa GOP chair Jeff] Kaufmann said. But Trump to many Iowans represents “the middle finger to doing things the same old way, to the fat cats and the corporate welfare that Democrats now support and Republicans supported in the past. He represents an exasperation — people saying enough is enough.”