The GOP’s Devotion to Trump Threatens to Destroy American Democracy

That’s the headline on a CNN article by Stephen Collinson and it pushes the Bullshit Needle entirely off the dial. So I looked up  his CNN bio.

Stephen Collinson is a reporter for CNN Politics covering the White House, and politics across the United States and around the world. A campaign expert, Collinson has covered five U.S. presidential elections. He specializes in deeply reported pieces, pulling on a wealth of expertise after covering the White House, Congress and foreign policy for Agence France-Presse for 17 years prior to joining CNN. A native of the United Kingdom, Collinson has traveled the world and filed from more than 50 countries. He has lived in Switzerland, Hong Kong, Thailand and Canada.

For a man with such stunning reportorial creds, it’s amazing to watch him stick his head so far up his own ass. American democracy is not under threat.

However, the GOP may destroy itself

The GOP has chosen to allow a sociopath to run uncontrolled across a four-year presidency. And there are political costs for that. Like a spoiled child misbehaving in public, the adults in the room have chosen either silence or approval, rather than reprimand.

Collinson writes this off to ‘cultish devotion,’ without considering the implication.

“The ex-President is showing that he doesn’t have to be in the Oval Office to damage faith in US elections and to trash truth, as his movement based on lies and personal homage takes an increasingly firm grip of the Republican Party. The widespread mistrust he continues to foster in the fairness of the US political system among millions of voters poses grave risks to democracy itself.”

Take a deep breath, Stephen

You’ve pretty much missed the point and that’s the gold standard upon which serious reportage depends. Sit back at your desk, tap your pencil and consider this from your own article:

  • 23% of Republican voters believed that Biden legitimately won sufficient votes to win the election last year.
  • This follows a Quinnipiac poll in February that showed that 76% of Republicans believe that there was widespread fraud in the election.

We are pretty much a two-party nation in name only

Forty percent of eligible voters list themselves as ‘independent’ in those states that require affiliation. So that leaves only 60% of the electorate dependently Democrat or Republican and those parties are amazingly close in numbers.

If that’s true—and polls show that it is—reliable Republican voters account for half that 60%. Taking Collinson’s numbers further into account, 7% (23% of 30%) of the electorate think Biden won the election and 23% (76% of 30%) don’t.

Twenty-three percent does not destroy Democracy

I’m not much of a believer in polls and wish we didn’t have them in politics. I don’t believe a thousand random phone calls provide much reliable information, particularly as those numbers are confined to land-lines. Who even has a land-line these days? And who is there to pick it up in the middle of a work-day?

Or are these strictly those “I hope I haven’t interrupted your dinner, would you have a few minutes to answer my questions” calls? Another unknown factor is the tens of thousands of Republicans who are purported to have changed their party affiliation (mostly to independent) since January 6th.

Collinson says “Trump, using his bond with the conservative grassroots, has effectively made fealty to his false claims of a fraudulent election last year the price of entry for any Republican candidate in any race.”

Really? His bond with conservative grassroots.

The conservative grassroots is what Lindsey Graham used to represent before he lost his courage, his moral compass and begged for re-election. There’s not much grass among conspiracy theorists, but that’s where Trump’s roots lie.

Even so, Stephen makes a point that fascinates me

In fact, it’s far more worthy of comment than his premise.

Trump’s power grows out of office

“Trump is answering one question that was often asked in his dark last days in office — would he be as powerful in private life as he was with the trappings of presidential office? If anything the former President wields even more control of his party now than he did over the last five years , a fact made more remarkable by the social media silence enforced by bans from major social media platforms.”

Firstly, we don’t know that to be true. He’s only been gone three months. The period between now and the 2022 mid-term elections is both blindingly quick and donkey-pace. Lots of stuff may–and probably will–happen.

But if true, who makes it true?

Media, of course.

The same sort of blather that Collinson flashes as a headline keeps the lies alive, not to mention that it stokes the furnace of conspiracy theory. CNN casts the Trump lure out into the click-bait mainstream waters at the same time that its anchor correspondents decry Lindsey Graham, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Ted Cruz and Tucker Carlson. It’s profitable, fishing in that mainstream where liberal left and conservative right each reel in whopper profits, secured by one another’s diatribes.

Click-bait is the biggest threat to democracy

And even click-bait won’t overcome.

Tucker Carlson is worth 400 articles a day in a thousand newspapers across the country. When Jon Oliver, Trevor Noah, Colbert, Fallon, Kimmel or Corden take liberal jabs at any of the Trump cult devotees, they simply keep the home-fires burning on the radical right.

And you know what? It doesn’t matter. Martin Luther King, Jr. said “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Sit down at your word-processor, Stephen Collinson and pay attention.

We are bending, but you’re flattening the arc and that ain’t helpful.

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