, 16 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
There's no such thing as a Flight 93 Election and the metaphor is idiotic and repugnant, as @adamjwhitedc notes here:
But a comment from @JVLast has me thinking about the issue of Trump as an existential threat. /1
I don't think of 2020 or any one election as a "Flight 93" election. I think the GOP has become a hideous parody of itself, and the Democrats are having the usual argument with their own totalitarian left wing. But that's not a "so crash everything in desperation" argument. /2
I think of Trump as an "existential" threat because his presence in the Oval, and the daily damage he does to it, has removed us from a left-right, Dem-GOP, lib-con axis; now we face basic questions about what kind of country we are and whether we care about the Constitution. /3
Despite the national hysteria, right and left are still able to defeat each other in elections, in Congress, in the courts - as long as we *care* about those institutions. But Trump's personality cult is corroding our commitment - *all* of us - to all of these. /4
FTR, I don't think Warren or Harris or Biden (or Walker or Jeb! or anyone else) represents that kind of threat. We can fight over dramatic changes to our institutions, and we should.
Trump, meanwhile, is changing our political culture, in ways that could be irreversible. /5
No one, in either party, in 2021 is going to change by legal or political fiat that we are a market democracy with a free press. We're too big and too federalized. Warren isn't going to turn us into Soviet Kazahstan. The GOP isn't going to turn us into Deadwood. So, calm down. /6
But what Trump, *personally*, is doing, is accelerating the cultural rot that brought him to power. (See @EliotACohen's piece on this here:
He's setting in place cultural changes that will outlive him, and me, and you. /7
Trump has bypassed all the legal and political norms we usually fight about, and instead has gotten us to embrace the idea that democracy is just Rollerball or the Coliseum, a way of hurting other people while cheering for the sadistic pleasure of our own entertainment. /8
He's the first POTUS, more than any other - FDR, Reagan, anyone - to enshrine a mindless cult of personality completely detached from any real policy preferences. (Protectionism? Sure! Free press? Screw those guys. Russia? North Korea? Our new loves.) /9
Even "muh judges" isn't a policy, except to one-issue anti-abortion voters, who think of themselves as "conservative" but who would turn the USA into Oceania if they thought it would give them the righteous pleasure of banning a medical process that can never be uninvented. /10
All of this is anti-small-d-democratic, anti-small-r-republican. And Trump won't succeed in most of his nativist nincompoopery, but his policies - and those of his challengers - are not the point. He's encouraging *all* of us to shift to a culture of authoritarianism. /11
Trump is an existential problem because he is the political equivalent of climate change: Trump's current hideousness is just the weather, but he's normalizing truly ghastly social and cultural changes that will poison our political ecosystem for years. /12
And the longer he stays, the worse it will be. At some point, we'll pass the point of no return - and we won't even know it. We will all be rage addicts, seeking to destroy our enemies at all costs. That's the world Trump loves, and we'll be living in it long after he's gone. /13
This, to me, warrants putting aside all differences of right and left, and stopping the slide into an authoritarian culture that is tempting both right and left to fight with flamethrowers, democracy and the Constitution be damned. That's Trump's bait and we're taking it. /14
At some point in the future, the Democrats will need to have their electoral wings clipped, too. But for now, the GOP is the vehicle for Trump's cult of personality, so that's the party that must be stopped. /15
So, is 2020 "Flight 93?" No. Not for me, and it shouldn't be for anyone. It's an offensive, stupid metaphor. But 2020 might be one of the last chances to prevent the eventual institutionalization of an illiberal, anti-constitutional culture in the USA. /16x
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