Even Republicans Not Sure Why Democrats Keep Hoping Republicans Will Have Some Moral Epiphany

Politics

When Republicans blocked the latest effort to pass a Stop Republicans From Cheating bill, Democrats gave some compelling speeches about democracy and our ongoing constitutional crisis. Meanwhile, former Republican Tom Nichols couldn't understand why Democrats were acting like chumps incapable of rising to the seriousness of the moment.

He tweeted Wednesday:

I have long defended the filibuster because I think there are things that should not be decided 51/49, that should require a greater show of comity. But Barrett's confirmation, in particular, made a mockery of that idea. This is hardball. Mitch plays it. Dems must play it too.

This is no longer a civic competition between two political parties. This is a direct competition between a coalition in favor of the rule of law and liberal democracy vs a party that has become Trump's weird cult of personality and an authoritarian political movement.

The GOP is using a Senate rule to forestall legislative action against state-level authoritarian measures from a GOP base that is enraged at losing a fair election. So if it comes down to that one Senate rule or democracy itself, dump the rule and pass the bill. Mitch would.

Whenever it's suggested that Democrats should go gangster on Republicans, the predictable response is that this would alienate independent voters, whom Democrats need in order to win in 2022 and 2024. We shouldn't make former Republicans feel too bad about themselves, so let's politely lie to them about "bipartisanship."


What's weird about this argument is that actual former Republicans are usually the most vocal about telling us that the current GOP is hot garbage. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has asked that "good" Republicans take back their party, but Nichols has repeatedly stated that the party is irredeemable. He worked for Republicans and voted Republican for 40 years, but he declared in a Washington Post op-ed prior to the 2018 midterms that the only way to truly cleanse the GOP was to vote against Republicans "in every race, at every level."

The tough medicine Nichols prescribed was prescient. The GOP didn't just blink in the face of Donald Trump's moral abyss. Republicans who share his contempt for democracy have infiltrated school boards and state legislatures. All the while Democrats made the quixotic choice to treat Trump as an outlier. In 2019, candidate Joe Biden claimed that Republicans would have an "epiphany" after Trump was gone and magically become the decent people they never were in the first place.

"I just think there is a way, and the thing that will fundamentally change things is with Donald Trump out of the White House. Not a joke. You will see an epiphany occur among many of my Republican friends," Biden said during a campaign stop in New Hampshire. "It's already beginning in the House now ... If we can't change, we're in trouble."

And if we can't accept reality, we're in trouble.

Even worse Republicans took office in 2021 — Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, and Tommy Tuberville. And supposed "good" Republicans such as Nancy Mace and Elise Stefanik doubled-down on MAGA because it was politically convenient.

Nicolle Wallace, once George W. Bush's White House communications director, noted on her MSNBC show Wednesday that Democrats are deluding themselves if they believe there are any Republicans who might support voting rights legislation, in any form.

Michael Steele, former Republican National Committee chair, agreed. He doesn't understand why Democrats dither over the filibuster while Mitch McConnell kick their asses on the regular. Shouldn't they act like they won an election or three?

STEELE: This is raw power. That's what this is ... So the reality for Democrat is how do you want to play the power? What are you waiting for? ... When it comes down to power and getting your agenda through ... Mitch McConnell wouldn't take a second breath about jettisoning the filibuster if it meant the GOP agenda would get done. I don't see why the Democrats don't see this. I get the niceties but baby I don't get it, because you're losing. You're losing.

Pro-filibuster Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are a lost cause. We get that, but the clock is nonetheless ticking. Maybe it was never Republicans who needed to have a political epiphany. They saw reality quite clearly.

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."

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