It continues to baffle me to no end how only the republicans are painted with the goal of authoritarianism.

Both parties would love to be the only party.

Both thinks the other is insane.

I read something recently that that is the one thing they agree on.

I had to chuckle.

It's so close to being true.

If you could just step back and be objective, democrats are as guilty as republicans in their longing for authoritian control.

Expand full comment

Interested to hear your thoughts on DeSantis's weaknesses!I

Expand full comment

I agree with almost all of this analysis, but I have to quarrel with the use of "autocratic" and "authoritarian" to describe the political tendency that voters rejected here.

Trump has never had an "autocratic agenda." Of the four men to hold the presidency this century, Trump has been the least assertive, the least innovative in expanding the powers of the Executive. Faced with an unprecedented, served-up-on-a-platter opportunity to carve out a de facto federal police power for the President in the face of Covid, Trump ran away screaming, begging, imploring the spirit of Our Federalism to take that cup from his lips.

Trump's abuses of power have centered on (a) using the presidency as a shield for personal corruption, petty and gross, and (b) trying with insane desperation to hang onto that shield despite losing re-election. Both of those are bad, and it's humiliating to watch a great democracy devolve into this sort of clownish opportunism. But none of it has anything to do with authoritarianism or autocracy.

Expand full comment

I sincerely hope that the Republicans keep the pressure up and take this opportunity to excise Trump. This being successful isn't even necessarily bad for Democrats in the short term because Trump will try to burn the house down on his way out the door if he loses. But marginalizing him should be the priority of all right-thinking persons. Trump losing influence will not be a cure-all and it won't be immediate, but it is the first step in fixing our current political climate.

I've been appealing constantly to my Republican friends since the election that the Trump coalition is a loser-minority coalition and that it is in their best interests to abandon him immediately.

Expand full comment

One small point on abortion. DeWine was the opposite of Zeldin - abortion wasn’t really “on the ballot” because a veto-proof legislative majority makes the governor irrelevant on the topic.

Yes, DeWine signed the bill. But Nan Whaley couldn’t have done anything to stop it if she’d been in office.

Expand full comment

The major confounding factor, as Josh alluded to in the footnote, is that the prominent election-denier candidates were also generally weirdos who said dumb things and had never held elected office. It is natural that these things would correlate, but it makes it hard to know why they did badly. Laxalt stands out as an active election denier (helped Trump fight Nevada's outcome in 2020, personally spread lots of nonsense) but otherwise normal guy with normal politician resume. He had an intermediate performance relative to fundamentals, better than Masters/Bolduc/Walker/Oz but worse than De Wine/Santis/Kemp.

If made Speaker and NRCC Chair, I promise to run a correctly randomized study in which 25% of Republican candidates fall in each of the possible weirdo and/or election denier quadrants. #science

Expand full comment

This piece feels similar to Andrew Sullivan's most recent piece.

I was surprised by your pre election takes, TBH. I thought you were going to be much more "the conventional wisdom is really getting away from the polls" like you were with Biden in the primaries.

Expand full comment

Your first article was the better of the two.

Why would anyone think that Joe Biden's over-the-top claims about the party he does not belong to swayed independent voters, let alone his political opponents? All it did was serve as a reminder that he would sell his soul for a vote or two.

My reasoning was probably used by many. Q1: Does the candidate claim that the 2020 Presidential Election was stolen? If no, perhaps the candidate is worth a vote. If yes, this candidate is a fruitcake whose insanity will prevent them from adequately representing me. Move to Q2. Q2: Will the candidate from the other major party win without my vote, or is it mandatory that I vote for them?

Democracy was not on the ballot. Sane representation was.

Expand full comment

I appreciate the thoughtful introspection about your prior piece, Josh.

Expand full comment

From my perspective.

If it's not OK for one party, it's not OK for the other.

Expand full comment

The topic is authoritarianism.

I'm calling out both parties.

Stay on topic please.

Expand full comment

Then don't say republicans.

Say Trump and his wingnut enablers.

I still maintain both sides have a strong authoritarian bent if you let them loose.

Expand full comment

Great read, Josh. Your take on Scott had me laughing out load. Thanks!

Expand full comment

So your only measure of authoritarianism is how some in the party want voting to work?

Expand full comment