The conventional wisdom these days is that Republicans are doing what they're doing because they're cowards. Greg Sargeant writes:
As a broad description of our current moment, this is profoundly insufficient. It risks misleading people about the true nature of the threat posed by the GOP’s ongoing radicalization.
Obviously fear of attacks from Trump — or from right-wing media or primary challengers — is one motivator. But by itself, this simply won’t do: It implies that Republicans would prefer on principle to stand firm in defense of democracy but are not doing so simply out of fear of facing immediate political consequences.
The truth is much more sinister than that:
It’s impossible to chalk this effort up to “cowardice” or “fear of Trump.” It is a deliberate action plainly undertaken to manufacture fake evidence for the affirmative purpose of further undermining faith in our electoral system going forward.
The Republicans have made careful calculations. They know exactly what they're doing:
Republicans are employing their own invented doubts about 2020 to justify intensified voter suppression everywhere. [Jim] Banks neatly crystallized the point on Fox, saying those doubts required more voting restrictions — after reinforcing them himself.
Indeed, with all this, Republicans may be in the process of creating a kind of permanent justification for maximal efforts to invalidate future election outcomes by whatever means are within reach.
The lies about 2020 and the increasing dedication to destroying democratic institutions in the quest for power are inextricable from one another. As Jay Rosen says, the press is comfortable calling out the former — it can be packaged as a “fact check." But being forthright about the latter requires depicting one party as far and away the only primary threat to our democratic stability. That’s accurate, but it’s uncomfortably adversarial.
Relatedly, describing Republicans as “cowards” who “fear Trump” casts their machinations as mere reluctant efforts to cope with externally imposed circumstances they’d prefer not to be dealing with. This lets Republicans off the hook in a very fundamental way. It risks misleading the country about the true depths of GOP radicalization — and the real dangers it poses.
The Republicans crave power. And they're willing to destroy democracy to get it.
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