Democracy Can Win
Be prepared to accept victory. Plus the chip wars.
Reminder: Tonight I’m hosting Thursday Night Bulwark starting at 8:00pm ET with Bill Kristol and Ted Johnson. We’ll cover all the political craziness since the midterms. Details here. Join us!
And speaking of a great way to spend an evening: Sarah, Tim and I are taking The Next Level on the road in January. We’ll be doing a live taping of the show at Town Hall Seattle on January 21. Our special guest for the evening is Dan Savage—legendary advice columnist and host of the Savage Lovecast. Learn more at TheBulwark.com/NoBS.
I hope you’ll come hang out with us.
1. Don’t Be Afraid of Winning
My view of Trump 2024 has been—since October 2016—that if he wants to be the Republican nominee, he will be.
I still see this as the most likely outcome, but no longer view it as certain. Trump is beset on all sides, in multiple arenas. Most importantly, he appears to be slowing down and may no longer have the energy to sustain his movement.
We’ve talked about that before and we’ll talk about it again.
What I want to talk about today is why we—by which I mean all the people committed to democracy—should be prepared to accept victory over Trumpism, should it come to pass.
Just because Trump is beaten in a nominating contest would not necessarily mean that the Republican party has abandoned the authoritarian aspects of Trumpism.
It is possible that a Trump successor could also present a challenge to our democratic institutions.
Whatever the leadership of the party says or does, if a large enough percentage of Republican voters are hostile to democracy, we’re still in trouble.
We can agree on these, yes?
Now what I’m trying to get at is that the pro-democracy movement should not be a forever war. Frankly, it can’t be. If democracy has to win in order to survive, every single time, then we’ve already lost.
What we all want—or at least, what I want—is a return to a world in which both major political parties and the overwhelming majority of their voters accept democratic commitments as given. A world in which all partisan victories are temporary. A world in which electoral outcomes are used to further policy goals, not to rig the system so as to perpetuate power.
This doesn’t mean there won’t be meaningful and important differences between the parties or their ideologies. Or that we shouldn’t have political preferences.
It just means that we can go back to assuming, before each free and fair election, that the next election will be free and fair, too.
The other day a reader emailed the following question:
If you could have Trump as the Republican nominee and know with certainty that he has only a 10 percent chance of winning, or Charlie Baker as the nominee and know with certainty that he has a 90 percent chance of winning, which would you choose?