1. Liberation Is at Hand!
Over the last couple of weeks we’ve seen some green shoots in the post-Trump Republican-conservative ecosystem as a handful of politicians and writers have tried to inch out in front of what they believe is a coming landslide / tsunami / meteor strike / take your pick.
To be honest, I’m not quite sure what to make of this.
If Donald Trump loses, there is going to be a civil war inside the Republican party and the conservative movement. On one side will be the Trumpists, who believe all of white nationalism and authoritarian stuff. On the other side will be the Vichycons, who never liked Trump, but who went along with Trumpism because they were partisans first, last, and always. (There will also be a tiny third fraction made up of actual Never Trumpers and people who tried to stay neutral, but never really liked the Never Trumpers. These substrata will be largely irrelevant to the intra-party fight. We’ll talk about them some other time.)
Here is how the civil war will play out.
(1) In the immediate aftermath of the election you’ll have three poses:
Trump will say that he was cheated and was the rightful winner. Some percentage of R’s and conservatives will rally to this standard. Devin Nunes. Matt Gaetz. Sean Hannity. You know the type.
Another group will do everything they can to elide the question of whether or not the election was “rigged.” They’ll say they can’t tell. Or that no one will ever know. Or that they don’t read Trump’s tweets. Or that they want to focus on the future, not the past. And they’ll fast-forward straight to yelling and screaming about Joe Biden and the Dangerous Democrats. This will be Hugh Hewitt, Ted Cruz, et al.
A third group will try to evaluate what went wrong and how the party/movement needs to change, but without casting much actual blame and certainly without blaming any of the establishment Republicans who went along with the program. There will be a lot of concern about “The Tweets.”
If I had to guess at the relative size of these groups they will be something like:
(2) After the inauguration, all three of these groups will join together to oppose anything and everything the Biden administration does and it will look like comity.
At least until the jockeying for 2024 starts.
(3) Once it becomes clear that Trump plans on being the one to choose the 2024 nominee, he’ll have a large base of support and the Republican party will be faced with the same decision matrix it had in mid-2016.
And if Republican primary voters want more Trumpism, then the Republican party will continue down this path, no matter what the Vichycons say. The Vichycons will have the magazines and op-ed pages, and a handful of elected Republicans. The Trumpists will have an active former president of the United States, his family, Fox, Facebook, Qanon, and a floor of probably 30 million voters.
I know which side I would bet on.
And I know that, if the Trumpers win the fight for the heart and soul of the Republican party, the Vichycons will, grudgingly—or not so grudgingly—go along.
2. Super. Conductors.
My buddy Tony Davis sends along this nifty nerd update: We now have a substance that acts as a superconductor at room temperature. It’s possible that 100 years from now, this will be the most important development of 2020:
A team of physicists in New York has discovered a material that conducts electricity with perfect efficiency at room temperature — a long-sought scientific milestone. The hydrogen, carbon and sulfur compound operates as a superconductor at up to 59 degrees Fahrenheit, the team reported today in Nature. That’s more than 50 degrees hotter than the previous high-temperature superconductivity record set last year.
“This is the first time we can really claim that room-temperature superconductivity has been found,” said Ion Errea, a condensed matter theorist at the University of the Basque Country in Spain who was not involved in the work.
“It’s clearly a landmark,” said Chris Pickard, a materials scientist at the University of Cambridge. “That’s a chilly room, maybe a British Victorian cottage,” he said of the 59-degree temperature.
Yet while researchers celebrate the achievement, they stress that the newfound compound — created by a team led by Ranga Dias of the University of Rochester — will never find its way into lossless power lines, frictionless high-speed trains, or any of the revolutionary technologies that could become ubiquitous if the fragile quantum effect underlying superconductivity could be maintained in truly ambient conditions. That’s because the substance superconducts at room temperature only while being crushed between a pair of diamonds to pressures roughly 75% as extreme as those found in the Earth’s core.
One of my dreams is to run a monthly journal called “Last Year” which analyses the big news stories from 12 months prior to see which of them turned out to be important and which did not.