Thomas Zimmer Profile picture
Visiting Prof. @Georgetown - 20th-Century History of Democracy and Its Discontents - Contributing Opinion Writer @GuardianUS - Co-Host @KreuzundFlagge Podcast
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Aug 10 8 tweets 3 min read
I’ve heard so many statements of the “I’m not a Trump fan, BUT…” variant, and none of them hold up to scrutiny: It’s all just stating the obvious, or concern trolling, or brand management by Very Serious Pundits, or vague platitudes, or downright ignoring the rule of law. “Trump fans will be upset” isn’t exactly a novel observation - and “therefore he shouldn’t be held to account” is just sacrificing democracy and the rule of law on the “Too Big to Fail” altar: If someone has enough devoted followers, there’s nothing we can do about it? Image
Aug 9 13 tweets 3 min read
The hyperbolic, hysterical reactions to the FBI raiding Trump’s Mar-a-Lago tell us something interesting - but it’s *not* that the “party of law and order” has all of a sudden turned on law enforcement. Rather, it’s a reminder what “law and order” has always meant on the Right. Describing this as “hypocrisy” is entirely correct while at the same time missing the larger point: Calling for the law to treat different groups differently is hypocritical only if you believe in equality before the law. But conservatives explicitly don’t.
Aug 5 42 tweets 8 min read
Let’s talk about the Forward Party.

It encapsulates all the fallacies of a shallow “unity politics” that is based on a superficial analysis of what ails the country and offers empty promises of overcoming “division” as pseudo-solutions that are actively harmful politically.  1/ Image It’s been about a week since the Forward project was announced, and the one reason why I believe it’s worth dwelling on this endeavor is that it puts into stark relief some common misconceptions and bad-faith talking points that are pervasively distorting the discourse. 2/
Aug 3 23 tweets 5 min read
As aggressive Trumpism rapidly spreads within the GOP, we hear a lot about how a “lack of courage” is supposedly preventing establishment Republicans from standing up to Trump – when what is actually the problem is a lack of commitment to democratic principles. 1/ The narrative that Republicans are just scared and cowardly obscures the actual problem: Most of them are on board with the anti-democratic radicalization, and they have given themselves permission to tolerate or even embrace authoritarianism to fight back against “the Left.” 2/
Aug 2 4 tweets 1 min read
This is such a crucial point. Journalists are not just passive observers simply mirroring the world: We necessarily rely on the stories they choose to tell, and how they choose to tell them. There is no such thing as “just reporting the facts.” The job is to select from the myriad events and developments those which deserve the attention of the public and decide on a presentation and framing that best contribute to an adequate understanding of what is shaping the polity. It’s an enormously influential task.
Aug 1 24 tweets 5 min read
Where Do You Go From Here, America?
Let’s resist the temptation to dismiss the political emergency by focusing on the markers of everyday “normalcy.” Democracy really is in a serious crisis, and we should grapple honestly with what that means.
My new column for @GuardianUS: Politics is about to take a summer break. The Supreme Court’s next term won’t start until October. Congress will be in recess. And the January 6 hearings will be on hiatus until September. Things will calm down for a little while. Or so it will seem on the surface, at least.
Jul 31 13 tweets 3 min read
Somehow, someway, someone should figure out how to get through to journalists who still refuse to cover politics as anything but a game, who see everything through a Team Red vs Team Blue lens, for whom there is no other metric by which to assess politics but winning / losing. They’re really doing an enormous disservice to the public, to the people whose lives will be impacted tremendously by how this “game” plays out, by not focusing on the actual stakes, on the real-life consequences for America and the world.
Jul 28 22 tweets 4 min read
Oh look, the current leader of Germany’s major conservative party CDU, Friedrich Merz, has figured out what the “biggest threat to free speech” is: #CancelCulture! He says it’s “now spilling over to Europe” from U.S. universities. Of course. A few thoughts: 1/ Republicans are banning and censoring everything that deviates from their white reactionary vision, they are united behind a wannabe-authoritarian, and fascistic militants are threatening the pillars of democratic society. But sure, “cancel culture” is the problem in America. 2/
Jul 27 5 tweets 2 min read
There’s no appeasing these people, no bargain or truce to be had. At the heart of the reactionary project is the refusal to compromise with the vision of multiracial pluralism, with anyone who deviates from their idea of the natural/divinely ordained order. They will keep going. They won’t stop at state borders. Attempts to institute a national ban are guaranteed to follow. The people behind this anti-abortion rights crusade will tolerate the right to bodily autonomy in “blue” America for only as long as they absolutely have to. And then they’ll pounce.
Jul 27 6 tweets 2 min read
A hero of the American republic, clearly. (Please let me refer you to previous statements and writing to prove I’m being sarcastic, thank you)
Jul 25 33 tweets 6 min read
It’s simply remarkable how out of step the Republican Party is with public opinion on several issues that are central to the reactionary political project. And Republicans understand this very clearly: It is what fuels the conservative radicalization against democracy. Conservatives aren’t oblivious to these numbers. But when they look at them, they just don’t see cause for moderation or course correction – only proof that the supposedly radical forces of Godless, “Un-American” leftism have already been allowed to advance much too far.
Jul 24 5 tweets 2 min read
Exactly. Public speech is never *not* regulated, there are always boundaries to what is considered acceptable and what is not. And everyone agrees that certain transgressions should be met with shaming or shunning. The question is: Where is the line, and who gets to draw it? What bothers the Chappelle defenders is that this particular speech is being sanctioned (because they think transphobia is fine, or at least not a big deal) and the fact that people they don’t consider worthy found a way to exact some sort of (rather insignificant) price.
Jul 22 21 tweets 4 min read
Some thoughts on last night’s #January6thHearing: It’s always striking to be reminded of how leading GOP politicians like Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy publicly acknowledged Trump’s culpability immediately after the attack. And look where the Republican Party is now. It obviously wasn’t enough for them to actually impeach or break with Trump in any meaningful way. But there was a brief moment of uncertainty, of Republican leaders and conservative elites being rattled, immediately after January 6. So, what happened?
Jul 21 35 tweets 6 min read
Smart look by @perrybaconjr at why progressives have been on the defensive.
To add one observation: There’s a melange of electoralism, mainstreamed rightwing talking points, and misleading ideas of what the “culture wars” are that nourishes the pervasive anti-progressivism. I’m basing this not just on my analysis of the broader political discourse, but also specifically on a series of conversations I’ve recently had with people who consider themselves liberals, including some in influential positions in the think tank world.
Jul 20 32 tweets 6 min read
McConnell-level depths of cynicism and shamelessness right here from the man who killed the child tax credit and has done everything in his considerable power to sabotage the Democrats’ socio-economic agenda. Trying to reconcile whatever Manchin says with what he actually does is pointless. There’s no serious concern for the country’s many public policy problems - just a desire to further his brand (the “moderate” who’s keeping leftwing excesses in check) and to uphold the status quo.
Jul 19 5 tweets 2 min read
This is the reality - entirely predictable, brutal, cruel - of the post-Roe regime that conservatives have imposed on so many million Americans, that they are hellbent on imposing on the whole country. So much unnecessary suffering at the hands of a radicalizing minority. They have managed to replace the compromise that Roe and Casey were - a serious, sincere attempt to find a balance between the interests of the pregnant person (given priority until a certain point) and the state’s interest to protect the unborn life - with this cruel travesty.
Jul 18 7 tweets 2 min read
Even the most “moderate” Republicans are fully on board with the project of imposing a white nationalist, even explicitly neo-confederate understanding of the nation’s past and present on a multiracial, pluralistic society and censoring anything or anyone daring to deviate. It’s the clearest distillation of how fundamentally anti-pluralistic and anti-democratic the reactionary political project is that completely dominates the Republican Party and defines the American Right’s vision for the country.
Jul 16 5 tweets 2 min read
No clearer indictment of the reactionary political project than the fact that these are the kinds of bizarrely deranged pseudo-arguments that reactionaries themselves and, in this case, the “moderates” who are invariably and predictably on their side bring forward to defend it. McArdle uses her platform primarily to either play up the danger emanating from “the Left” (cancel culture!) or play down the threat from the Right by lashing out against liberal “alarmism.” It’s not difficult to see what the underlying political project is.
Jul 16 13 tweets 3 min read
Ah yes, definitely better for the country - and Newsom’s kids - to allow six reactionaries to act like absolute monarchs and abolish democracy, eviscerate the civil rights order, and dismantle the state’s ability to respond to the challenges of a modern society. Makes sense. To be fair, expansion is not the only way to deal with this rogue Court - but unless you follow “I’m against expansion” with “We shouldn’t accept this Court’s decisions as legitimate and binding,” it certainly seems like you’re not prioritizing democracy and civil rights.
Jul 15 5 tweets 2 min read
If these reactionaries manage to impose their will on the entire country, no one gets to hide behind the claim they didn’t know it was gonna be *that* bad. These people could not possibly be any clearer about how vile and merciless the regime is they envision for America. If someone has given themselves permission to demand that a 10-year-old rape victim be denied an abortion, or to support politicians who do, what is the line they won’t feel justified to cross, in the name of their God, the natural order, or what they believe “real America” is?
Jul 12 16 tweets 3 min read
Some thoughts on today’s #January6thHearings: A tale of two very different halves for me - but both evoking a sense of dread and acute threat. Trump brought carnage. Unless he is held to account, he will bring a lot more, and the damage will be irreparable. The first part centered on that December 18 meeting between Trump’s outside team and his White House lawyers: What an absolutely bizarre scene – nothing anyone would have accepted as remotely plausible, had it been presented in a movie or a novel. Trumpism as farce.