Kevin Drum writes that, earlier in the year, he worried that the United States was slipping into autocratic hands. Now, he's more sanguine:
Republicans are in panic mode over the possibility that Robert Mueller is about to start plowing relentlessly through the White House like a bulldozer leveling an old shack. By the time he’s through, they’re understandably afraid there might not be much left standing.
At the risk of being too Pollyannaish, it’s almost good news that Republicans are acting this way. It means they realize their party is in existential trouble.
The Republicans are in trouble because they are the party of Old White America. They hate Barack Obama because of his message -- that Old White America is now a distinct minority. And that realization is driving the Republicans crazy. They are lashing out everywhere and at everyone:
For years it’s been obvious that Republicans are the party of whites and Democrats are the party of nonwhites. This worked fine for a while, but starting in the 90s it became an increasingly weighty albatross and Republicans became increasingly desperate to increase both white turnout and their share of the white vote. Fox News helped with this. Karl Rove’s focus on the “missing evangelicals” helped. Gerrymandering helped. Pack and crack helped. Photo ID laws helped. But these were just pellets in a war dominated by a disastrous decline in party ID in the Bush years that the party never recovered from.
By 2012, however, they had run out of new tricks to gain more white votes and suppress more nonwhite votes—and the nonwhite share of the population was still continuing its implacable rise. Party leaders understood perfectly well that this meant they needed better outreach to people of color, but this was something they could never pull off. Their only other option was to become even more explicitly unambiguous in their appeal to the white vote, and that never seemed like a plausible strategy: you might gain some working-class whites out of the deal, but you’d lose at least as many centrist whites who’d be disgusted by the all-but-open appeal to racism.
[They] had no choice but to get aboard, but in the end Trump did lose more white votes than he gained. Compared to 2012, Trump gained among high school grads but lost votes among college grads. When the returns were in, not only did the white share of the overall vote continue its long decline, but Trump got a smaller share of that white vote than Romney.¹ Party leaders had been right: an outright appeal to white racial grievance did more harm than good.
The leaders may stand beside Trump, smiling foolishly. but they're not "like, really smart."
Image: Breaking News