Trump is a Con Man & Very Good at it…He’s managed to deceive tens of millions of Americans into thinking he’s some great leader & they are indeed willing to follow him. That Trump is a con man with immense skills is also seen by his orchestrating nearly complete control over his party & his echo. It’s amazing & shocking so many Americans would sacrifice their ethics & principles in subservience to a demagogue, but Trump is a con man with talents in line with other fascist dictators who have risen to power throughout history. I’ve warned many times don’t think fascism couldn’t come to America. As seen in a cautionary note from inside democracy-authoritarianism-media-spotlight-viktor-orban, fascist leaders sneak up on us, subtly discrediting political opposition & the institutions of democracy one piece at a time. I hope The VORACS can be used as a valuable tool along with other important messaging sources for shining the light of truth on these real dangers. Please do share with others who can share with others, since democracy & our freedoms are well-worth the effort.
Sunday morning the prez tweeted that certain media & entertainment sources should be tested in court, just a continuation of Trump’s relentless assault on a free press & First Amendment. He’s always hot under the collar when the media reports on the many criminal investigations, but this funny skit also got him going: trump-saturday-night-live-lawsuit-wonderful-life.
This might be an Emergency
Normally in America we wouldn’t worry about such a possibility as seen in the next link. But with Trump, anything is possible. Trump is a con man very relentless & reckless in his actions, so could he even orchestrate a national emergency to justify declaring a state of emergency? That’s why it’s never a good idea to elect a lying psychopath for president, since someone so unstable may in a fit of rage mount an all-out assault on our democracy, prior to us following the Constitution in letting the process play out for having him legally removed from office: presidential-emergency-powers. The farewell address from a retiring GOP senator hints at the legitimate dangers our nation does face, seen in excerpts from jeff-flake-warns-that-u-s-not-immune-to-authoritarianism-in-senate-farewell:
Jeff Flake, the U.S. Senator from Arizona, said goodbye to the Senate this week. Flake has been a frequent critic of Donald Trump. During his farewell speech, Flake warned that the U.S. is not immune to “authoritarianism” which he suggested can lead to “tyranny.” “Let us recognize from this place here today that the shadow of tyranny is once again enveloping parts of the globe. And let us recognize as authoritarianism reasserts itself in country after country that we are by no means immune,” CNBC reported Flake as saying. The outgoing senator took the moment to throw some shade at President Trump without mentioning Trump’s name explicitly, He did call out Russian President Vladimir Putin by name, according to a report from CNN. He said that Putin hijacked his own democracy, which Trump has not spoken out against. “My colleagues, to say that our politics is not healthy is something of an understatement. I believe that we all know well that this is not a normal time, that the threats to our democracy from within and without are real, and none of us can say with confidence how the situation that we now find ourselves in will turn out,” Flake said in his farewell. According to the senator, the U.S. faces many challenges today and in the near future, which could lead to the end of the current manner of government. However, he noted that the country faced even more significant challenges in the past and overcame them. He said that he doesn’t believe that the government should test democracy the way it’s being tested today ever again. Flake urged the government and its citizens to work hard to ensure that democracy remains well in the U.S.
James Comey Unleashed
James Comey has certainly become a controversial figure with both parties. But click on the live link for his comments after being grilled by a congressional committee yesterday, as it’s worth hearing since he is telling the truth. As Comey indicates, those GOP politicians have become sycophant puppets to this Trump cult, quivering with fear about Fox News, their base & mean tweets that could revolt against them should they dare stand up to evil demagoguery. His comments are in a video inside this first live link, with the links below that you’d need to do a search:
A Tale of Strategic Conspiratorial Lies targeting Blatant Ignorance
Trump is a con man & very successful at it, again seen by the way his merry band of Trumpeters believe his lies & even seem willing to go into battle for him. These Trump supporters seek to save a criminally-corrupt president, & should they succeed could literally destroy our constitutional democracy. It’s astounding what they’re willing to swallow in their worship of the prez. Trump & his echo really have them bamboozled! Along with always lying about Trump’s mounting crimes, there’s an extensive list below of institutions & individuals team-Trump seeks to unjustifiably smear, along with contrived claims & talking points they uniformly stick to. As Trump & the entire echo expertly coordinate their fog-machine basket of lies so their target audience hears the same falsehoods over & over again, that repetition rings true with their base in helping a criminalized presidency win the political narrative over Russiagate & other scandals. Clear-thinking Americans living in the real world can clearly see that nonsense for the lies they truly are, but echo-world still lives in their bizarre alternate universe mired in alternative facts. Here are those primary targets & conspiracies from the echo-distraction machine:
push unwarranted FISA warrants
push Uranium One
push fake news to discredit mainstream media
push no collusion
push witch hunt
push lock her up
Yes, let me repeat. Trump, Fox & all his pundits in Congress & throughout the echo lie constantly in protecting a corrupt president, & their lies are coordinated in giving them more attention & credibility. And why would they concoct so many conspiratorial tales that are so preposterous, for any normal time in American life would be quickly dismissed? Well, that’s where the ignorance from within the base comes in. Those spin-meisters can get away with their pattern of lying since their base believes anything Trump & the echo tell them.
Another crazy conspiracy Trump picked up from the echo & tweeted about a few days ago is seen inside trump-cites-misleading-wing-story, which practically every week they trot out a new version of some erroneous hoax as a diversion away from the real scandal, which is Russiagate (although we’re also seeing lots of other scandals & investigations with campaign finance crimes, inauguration funding, pay-to-play emolument clause violations, Trump Organization tax fraud, Trump Foundation charities fraud, etc, etc, etc, so please see this incredible graphic a few seconds into this video inside stunning-cnn-graphic-captures-the-full-scope-of-investigations-into-president-trump). But Trump & his echo-world keep trying to pin scandals on their political opposition with ZERO evidence! And their crazy conspiracies are always soon shot down.
The most recent Crazy Conspiracy along with talk of Treason
Trump & the echo went all in on the nutty story that the FBI pulled a fast one on Flynn in an ambush. Throw it in that trash bag along with the dozens of other contrived echo-conspiracies proven false. Fox viewers must be shocked! That latest Trump/echo concoction claimed Flynn was set up by the FBI to be entrapped in his own lies. But from the Mueller docs released, it’s been proven conclusively how Flynn willingly & repeatedly lied on his own volition: michael-flynns-judge-destroys-trumps-conspiracy-theory. And Flynn was initially Trump’s security advisor, so he would certainly be aware you can’t lie to the FBI!
Then the judge today raked Flynn over the coals at the very idea Flynn would even entertain the thought of playing along with such an outrageous conspiracy theory. He delayed Flynn’s sentencing while even bringing up the word treason, hinting at the evidence Mueller may be holding against Trump-world as being a huge bombshell in waiting. The mere mention of the T-word is about as bad as it can get: jon-meacham-donald-trump-treason-morning-joe. So check out these article titles of that conspiracy debunked & Flynn’s court appearance today. Sorry we’ve exceeded our live link quota, so any of these you’d need to search for:
Only a Cult could follow such Fake Conspiracies
Sure, it’s patently ridiculous to actually believe this conspiracy stuff, but being a member of their tribe is really more of a cult, so those people will believe whatever the group says to think. Yes, it’s sad indeed, but more so it’s scary that millions of Americans can be so easily deceived as to be made completely detached from reality. I question how long a free society can even exist when a subset of the population are so lost in a fog, they’ll unconditionally buy into the talking points of deception, corruption, tyranny & demagoguery without having a doubt or a clue. Frustratingly, those living inside that radicalized right-wing universe mostly can’t be reasoned with since they adamantly deny basic facts. Most of the long article from paul-manafort-trump-russia-mueller-investigation is posted here, as we see what the roots of a real scandal looks like:
Paul Manafort, who served as the manager for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, provided advice to the president and senior White House officials on the FBI’s Russia investigation during the earliest days of the Trump administration. He gave guidance on how to undermine and discredit the FBI’s inquiry into whether the president, his campaign aides, and family members conspired with the Russian Federation and its intelligence services to covertly defeat Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign, according to government records and interviews with individuals familiar with the matter. Manafort himself was under criminal investigation by the FBI during this same time, a fact then known to the White House. Last Friday, special counsel Robert Mueller alleged in court filings that Manafort told“multiple discernible lies” to FBI agents and prosecutors, in violation of the cooperation agreement between Manafort and the special counsel’s office. Among those, Mueller charged, were lies by Manafort to investigators that he had not been in contact with anyone in the White House. Manafort advised administration officials in the spring and summer of 2017 on how to politically undermine the FBI and Mueller investigation in three ways, according to government records and interviews with three people with knowledge of the contacts. He also gave them advice on how some of the witnesses against both him and the president might be discredited. In short, Manafort and Trump were working together to discredit the investigators as well as potential witnesses.
Manafort urged the president to attack the FBI
First, Manafort advised the president and his political surrogates to more aggressively and directly attack the FBI and other elements of the federal law enforcement apparatus investigating his administration. The goal of Manafort’s advice was to “delegitimize” the investigation itself, one person familiar with the advice explained to me. Manafort wanted nothing less than to “declare a public relations war on the FBI,” this same person said. Another goal was to discredit then-FBI Director James Comey and other senior FBI officials — as it had become increasingly likely they would be witnesses against the president. Trump later did just that, but it’s unclear what role, if any, Manafort’s advice played in the president deciding to go on the attack. Other, more influential advisers made similar recommendations to Trump. And Trump likely did not need to hear that advice from Manafort or anyone else. As first lady Melania Trump once said of her husband: “As you may know by now, when you attack him he will punch back 10 times harder.”
Manafort also advised a senior administration official, through an intermediary, to attack the Justice Department, the FBI, and Obama administration officials for seeking court-authorized warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to eavesdrop on Manafort and a second campaign aide to Trump, Carter Page, as part of counterintelligence and criminal investigations into whether Manafort, Page, and others had conspired with Russia to help Trump win the 2016 presidential election. FISA warrants are granted only when the court is presented with sufficient evidence that the person who would be the target of surveillance may be acting on behalf of a foreign power, and the legal threshold to obtain such a warrant is high. The Foreign Intelligence Service Court allowed for the electronic surveillance of Manafort prior to, and subsequent to, his role in the Trump campaign. Trump alleged that then-President Barack Obama authorized the wiretapping of him and his campaign aides as part of an “illegal” scheme to engage in political espionage. Such allegations have since become central to the president’s attacks on the Justice Department, the FBI, and the Mueller investigation — even though Trump and his allies have yet to produce any evidence to show that any of this is true.
As part of these efforts, Trump and his allies on Capitol Hill — most notably, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the outgoing chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence — made public sensitive classified information that endangered the lives of intelligence sources and interfered with ongoing criminal investigations. In May 2018, the Justice Department wrote to Nunes warning that information he was about to make public would “risk severe consequences, including potential loss of human lives, damage to relationships with valued international partners, compromise of ongoing criminal investigations and interference with intelligence activities.” Nunes released much of the information anyway. Trump himself ordered the declassification of other intelligence information that law enforcement and intelligence officials warned would do similar damage. Attacking the use of FISA warrants had no effect on the outcome of Manafort’s criminal case. But a person with firsthand knowledge of Manafort’s thinking — and that of Manafort’s defense team — told me they believed discrediting the FISA process and, more broadly, the federal criminal investigation of him and other Trump campaign aides would make it more politically feasible for Trump to pardon Manafort.
Manafort urged the president to attack the DNC
Second, Manafort counseled the White House to allege — albeit with no evidence to back up said charges — that the pro-Western Ukrainian government had colluded with the Democratic National Committee to try to help Hillary Clinton win the 2016 presidential election. A source with direct knowledge of the matter told me that the White House adopted Manafort’s recommendation in the summer of 2017 to specifically target Alexandra Chalupa, a political strategist and consultant for the DNC, for allegedly working with Ukrainian officials to hurt Trump’s candidacy. Despite a torrent of allegations, no evidence has surfaced that Chalupa or the DNC did anything wrong. Acting on Manafort’s advice, on July 10, 2017, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders encouraged reporters to investigate how “the Democrat National Committee coordinated opposition research directly with the Ukrainian Embassy.” That same week, Fox News’s Sean Hannity amplified the allegations evening after evening on his show. Likewise, Republicans on Capitol Hill called for investigations of the “Ukrainian matter.” On July 25, 2017, Trump tweeted: “Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump campaign – ‘quietly working to boost Clinton.’ So where is the investigation A.G.”
On August 9, 2017, Matthew Whitaker (now the acting attorney general) and a conservative advocacy group he then headed, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), formally asked the Federal Election Commission to investigate the DNC’s dealings with Chalupa. The complaint was largely based on scant evidence and erroneous information; the FEC has given no indication since that it will investigate the matter further. Even though the allegations had no factual basis to prove anything improper, they were effective propaganda. The White House made its claims shortly after the first public disclosures that Donald Trump Jr. had hosted a Trump Tower meeting between a self-described intermediary for the Russian Federation and himself, Jared Kushner, and Manafort, in which the Russians promised “dirt” on Clinton. The White House was attempting to draw a parallel between its meetings with foreigners and the DNC’s via Chalupa. But the comparison has always been a facile one, and the White House and its surrogates have not been able to prove any wrongdoing by their counterparts. The Russian Federation — an adversary of the United States — engaged in a covert intelligence effort to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Trump Jr., Kushner, and Manafort agreed to a meeting with individuals they were told were associated with the Russian government to obtain “dirt” on Clinton. Don Jr. in particular was acting on behalf of his father and his presidential campaign. It is illegal for a political campaign to accept any help from a foreign individual, foreign entity, or former government, and illegal not to disclose it; that is, in part, one of the reasons the Trump Tower meeting has also been a focus of special counsel Mueller’s investigation.
Chalupa looked into Manafort’s role as an adviser to former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych — who wanted to cut ties with the European Union and become more closely aligned with Russia — and set out to sound the alarm. At one point, she even organized a protest in Manafort’s hometown of New Britain, Connecticut, in which protesters held up signs saying, “Putin, hands off the US election.” But those endeavors were unrelated to her work for the Democratic National Committee, where she had been the co-chair of the DNC’s affiliate the National Democratic Ethnic Coordinating Council during the 2016 presidential election. When Chalupa brought up Manafort with anyone at the DNC, they were largely disinterested, and in July 2016, she left her part-time consulting role at the DNC to work full time on her human rights advocacy. The DNC and the Clinton campaign have said that they were uninvolved with her efforts, and no evidence has surfaced to contradict that claim.
Manafort urged the president to attack Clinton and the Steele dossier
Third, in early 2017, Manafort provided the White House specific information on how Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign had sponsored research into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. More specifically, Manafort provided information to the White House as to how to discredit the so-called Steele dossier, a report written by Christopher Steele, a former head of the Russia desk for the British intelligence agency MI6, about alleged ties that Trump and his associates had to Russia. (Manafort provided background to the White House’s attorneys about specific allegations and information in the dossier that he said was suspect.) Manafort also recommended that Trump play up the fact that the work had been commissioned by a private investigation firm hired by the Clinton campaign, according to a former administration official familiar with the effort. Manafort’s contacts with the White House continued even after his cooperation with Mueller. Without telling prosecutors, Manafort’s defense attorneys were secretly providing details of their client’s cooperation with the special counsel to the president’s legal team, in an apparent effort by Manafort to undermine the investigation or perhaps win a pardon from Trump.
In the process, Manafort may have thus helped Trump tailor his answers to questions recently provided to the special counsel’s office. Harry Litman, a former US attorney and deputy assistant attorney general, has since commented: “The open pipeline between cooperator and suspect Trump may have been not on only extraordinary but also criminal. … What purpose other than an attempt to ‘influence, obstruct, or impede’ the investigation of the president can be discerned from Manafort’s service as a double agent? And on the Trump side, the communications emit a strong scent of illegal witness tampering.” In short, in trying to cover up and maneuver for a pardon, Manafort and others may have committed even more crimes. Each “discernible lie” Manafort told is a potential new felony charge of lying to federal investigators, perjury, obstruction of justice, or combination thereof. Of obvious interest to the special counsel is whether others, most notably White House officials, conspired with Manafort to lie, mislead investigators, and possibly obstruct justice, and what, specifically, the president of the United States knew about all of this.
Fox Told the Truth? It Happens Sometimes!
Occasionally if we catch Fox News at the exact right moment in the middle of the afternoon, we can actually hear the truth: fox-news-napolitano-lays-out-possible-doomsday-scenario-for-trump & also fox-news-legal-expert-judge-andrew-napolitano-expects-donald-trump-to-be-indicted-theres-ample-evidence. The evening shows are a different story. It looks like some big advertisers have decided not to be associated with a bigot: two_more_advertisers_dropped_tucker_carlson_tonight_show. This might just be the way Trump’s mind works, unable to see beyond his own selfish interests: trump-private-deals-public-interest. They say our first instincts are often the correct ones: mick-mulvaney-donald-trump-criticism.
My Head is Still Spinning
This was a rather raucous interview. Chris Wallace tried to pin PR lawyer Rudy down by calling out his lies, but Rudy kept talking in circles that made no sense whatsoever. Maybe that echo-Fox audience could follow along since they understand the code language of alternative facts, but to the reasoned mind it was a jaw-dropping interview. Based on Rudy’s logic, it’d be like me stating my football team (the Cleveland Browns) must have won the Super Bowl last year based on their perfect season (0-16). If you want to get your mind twisted into a pretzel, try following along with Rudy’s train of thought inside fox-news-chris-wallace-takes-rudy-giuliani-apart-im-asking-you-for-the-truth-sir. And that is Trump’s lawyer? That legal team has no substance for a legal defense since it’s clear they have a client who’s not innocent. America’s Mayor turned crackpot lawyer is further revealed in these articles, which you’d need to copy/paste into a search engine to find, including the first article where the prez realizes winning in the court of public opinion is the only chance he has:
Nothing signals the conversion of the GOP base’s mindset from rational to radical than the demise of the Weekly Standard: the-closing-of-the-conservative-mind-and-of-the-weekly-standard. We here at The VORACS probably should have used them as part of our regular search from the newsfeeds for pertinent articles to post to our blog. Fox & the echo have so polluted the thinking of their brain-frozen audiences, the GOP is no longer a force for good in America. Dishonesty, deception, demagoguery, corruption & extremism have now taken over the party’s core, with pragmatic conservatism being shunned as reflected by the loss of readership among publications still trying to hang onto their principles: bill-kristol-on-trump-blasting-weekly-standard-he-wants-people-trying-to-save-gop-to-go-away.
That Trump is a con man is further reflected by the way he squashes cogent conservative messaging. Dictators can’t tolerate dissent. It’s indeed a sad reality when intelligent conservative thought has been pilfered by an irrational cult. It just demonstrates how the conservative mindset when dictated by Trump & his echo has recently gone way off the rails. A cult will always dismiss truths when it conflicts with group doctrine. My comments are not based on some personal grudge I have against the GOP, rather I’m just trying to call them out in the hopes the party isn’t too far gone & can still be fixed (eventually). America badly needs a sane conservative party. In recent years, we clearly don’t have one. These excerpts come from weekly-standard-killed-no-trump-love-media:
There is still nothing to celebrate about its untimely death. Over the last few years, the Weekly Standard has emerged as one of the very few conservative outlets to resist Trumpism, to defend a vision of conservatism that rejects Trump’s lawlessness, his authoritarian impulses, and his grotesque embrace of white nationalism. Even if the Never Trump movement represents a small segment of the Republican Party, it remains an important counter to the broader opportunistic conservative embrace of the president. And the Weekly Standard’s dissolution will only encourage other right-wing outlets to publish more irresponsible pro-Trump garbage. That is not to say that every other conservative publication has entirely jettisoned its principles to defend Trump. If you’re interested in a reasonable take on, say, the Robert Mueller investigation or Trump’s trade wars, you can read David French in National Review or Gabriel Malor in the Federalist.
But these voices are ever rarer and lonelier. As I write, the top story on National Review is an absurd defense of Michael Cohen’s crimes, which argues that prosecutors are “twisting campaign-finance law” to secure his conviction. Its purpose is not to defend Cohen himself, but the criminal acts to which he has confessed and in which he has implicated Trump. The Federalist has posted a similar article, as well as a dark warning that the FBI is “hiding the truth” about Michael Flynn, replete with a baseless intimation that Mueller’s team might be destroying documents that could exonerate Flynn. The Federalist appears to be the new model for conservative media, a truly depressing development given its almost unrelenting dishonesty. In May, the Week’s Damon Linker wrote a devastating critique of the magazine’s many lies about the FBI. The Federalist, Linker wrote, “is a leading disseminator of pro-Trump conspiracies and up-is-down, funhouse-mirror distortions of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election meddling and potential Trump involvement.” If anything, that’s an understatement. The Federalist led the push to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who long oversaw the probe. It has claimed, over and over again, that Mueller is leading a partisan “witch hunt.” Its authors have decried his “obsessive pursuit” of the president and condemned Mueller as “the clown prince of federal law enforcement.” At every turn, the Federalist seeks to reinforce Trump’s claim that the Mueller probe is illegitimate, if not illegal.
The Weekly Standard, by contrast, has remained profoundly skeptical toward Trump. Its reporting on the latest developments in the Russia probe are truthful and perceptive. One of its very last articles, published Friday, celebrates Trump’s inability to impede the investigation. There are exceptions—its executive editor, Fred Barnes, has penned some very silly criticisms of the special counsel. But the magazine has not slipped into the Federalist’s fever dream. It does not often carry water for the president and does not hesitate to condemn his dumbest ideas. The Weekly Standard is, in short, a conservative magazine rooted in reality. Those are now in short supply. And while it is apparently untrue that the Weekly Standard bled readers because of its Never Trump stance—its web traffic has reportedly increased—other conservative outlets may view its death as a warning: Stray too far from the Trump party line, and readers will abandon you. We will see more (sycophant) writers like Byron York and Kimberley Strassel, and fewer like Weekly Standard star Haley Byrd, one of the finest congressional reporters working today. It is healthy to have a magazine that challenges both Democrats and Republicans in good faith—a conservative outlet that progressives cannot simply write off as an asinine pro-Trump propaganda machine. And it is encouraging to know that the entire conservative movement has not latched itself to Trump’s cult of personality. American conservatism will always be with us, but Trump will not. What happens after he is gone? Will the Republican Party indefinitely adopt his cruelty, his know-nothingism, his contempt for the law? Or will a saner faction assert dominance in the GOP? The Weekly Standard made me optimistic for the latter possibility. Its demise suggests that the Trumpists will win out.
Trump has made a habit out of blasting anyone not showing total loyalty & won’t bow to worship him. But after burning so many bridges, when the president’s legal troubles blow up to where a lot of his base support evaporates, expect there’ll come a day when many influential GOP leaders will gleefully turn their backs on him. In 2019 when the end likely comes, he may not have any friends left. What goes around comes around: trump-blasted-for-tweet-sniping-at-the-weekly-standard-for-shutting-down-what-a-sht-he-is.
Only the Best People? Or Only Corrupt People He Can Use?
Trump told us he would only hire the best people. Many from his campaign staff have been criminally charged, while many in his administration have been proven corrupt, plus there’s been unprecedented turnover: all-the-major-firings-and-resignations-in-trump-administration & also ryan-zinke-secretary-interior-donald-trump. The fish rots at the head, so Trump either brings in people who are corrupt to begin with, or are corrupted from working for him. See inside this next link, it’s what con men do: as-the-trumps-dodged-taxes-their-tenants-paid-a-price. Some among the wealthy have become so full of themselves, they come to have no regard for those less fortunate & view them as tools to be exploited. That seems to fit our prez to a T. Trump has managed to corrupt his own party & that entire conservative echo-sphere, which effectively doing so again proves the point, Trump is a con man. More on the GOP being corrupted as they offer unbending support of a demagogue are seen in these excerpts pulled from how-did-republican-party-get-so-corrupt:
The corruption I mean has less to do with individual perfidy than institutional depravity. It isn’t an occasional failure to uphold norms, but a consistent repudiation of them. It isn’t about dirty money so much as the pursuit and abuse of power—power as an end in itself, justifying almost any means. Political corruption usually trails financial scandals in its wake—the foam is scummy with self-dealing—but it’s far more dangerous than graft. There are legal remedies for Duncan Hunter, a representative from California, who will stand trial next year for using campaign funds to pay for family luxuries. But there’s no obvious remedy for what the state legislatures of Wisconsin and Michigan, following the example of North Carolina in 2016, are now doing. Republican majorities are rushing to pass laws that strip away the legitimate powers of newly elected Democratic governors while defeated or outgoing Republican incumbents are still around to sign the bills. Even if the courts overturn some of these power grabs, as they have in North Carolina, Republicans will remain securely entrenched in the legislative majority through their own hyper-gerrymandering—in Wisconsin last month, 54 percent of the total votes cast for major-party candidates gave Democrats just 36 of 99 assembly seats—so they will go on passing laws to thwart election results. Nothing can stop these abuses short of an electoral landslide. In Wisconsin, a purple state, that means close to 60 percent of the total vote.
The fact that no plausible election outcome can check the abuse of power is what makes political corruption so dangerous. It strikes at the heart of democracy. It destroys the compact between the people and the government. In rendering voters voiceless, it pushes everyone closer to the use of undemocratic means. Today’s Republican Party has cornered itself with a base of ever older, whiter, more male, more rural, more conservative voters. Demography can take a long time to change—longer than in progressives’ dreams—but it isn’t on the Republicans’ side. They could have tried to expand; instead, they’ve hardened and walled themselves off. This is why, while voter fraud knows no party, only the Republican Party wildly overstates the risk so that it can pass laws (including right now in Wisconsin, with a bill that reduces early voting) to limit the franchise in ways that have a disparate partisan impact. This is why, when some Democrats in the New Jersey legislature proposed to enshrine gerrymandering in the state constitution, other Democrats, in New Jersey and around the country, objected. Taking away democratic rights—extreme gerrymandering; blocking an elected president from nominating a Supreme Court justice; selectively paring voting rolls and polling places; creating spurious anti-fraud commissions; misusing the census to undercount the opposition; calling lame-duck legislative sessions to pass laws against the will of the voters—is the Republican Party’s main political strategy, and will be for years to come. The corruption of the Republican Party in the Trump era seemed to set in with breathtaking speed. In fact, it took more than a half century to reach the point where faced with a choice between democracy and power, the party chose the latter. Its leaders don’t see a dilemma—democratic principles turn out to be disposable tools, sometimes useful, sometimes inconvenient. The higher cause is conservatism, but the highest is power.