First, H.R. McMaster and John Dowd are out. John Bolton and Joseph diGenova are in. The common theme: President Trump is replacing advisers who tried to moderate him with those who play to his worst impulses.
Kelly Magsamen, a former government official, called Bolton’s job — national security adviser — “by far the most important national security position in our government” because “this person is the one in charge of shaping and framing national security decisions for the President.” She added that “Bolton has no moderating tendencies.”
Republicans vs. democracy. The biggest problem in American politics is the extremism of the Republican Party.
The Democrats certainly have their problems, but they pale by comparison. Large numbers of Republican voters hold beliefs that are simply false (climate change is a hoax, Barack Obama is a Kenyan, Robert Mueller is Democratic partisan). Trump, meanwhile, flouts the rule of law, while Republican leaders in Congress try to pass major legislation largely in secret.
I’ve argued that conservatives aghast at these developments should vote against their party in order to reclaim it. Republican leaders won’t abandon their extremism if they keep winning. In a mini-essay on Twitter, Noah Smith of Bloomberg View takes on the same issue but from a different angle: He says that the answer is expanding voting rights so that more Americans have the opportunity to vote against Republican extremism.
“The #1 policy priority for Democrats at both the state and federal levels should not be universal health care, gun control, climate change, etc.,” Smith wrote. “It should be democracy.”
Smith argues that voting restrictions have been crucial to the Republican Party’s extremist success. “Since the 90s, as Hispanics (and Asians) grew as a % of the U.S. population, one faction of the GOP wanted to court them. A second faction wanted to keep the party a white ethnic party. The second faction, sadly, won,” he writes.
“Instead of toning down white identity politics to court Hispanics and Asians, the GOP decided to: 1) turn up the identity politics; 2) deport as many nonwhite immigrants as possible; 3) use voting restrictions and gerrymandering to win with a minority of votes.”
But this strategy won’t continue to work if larger numbers of minorities begin voting. To Smith’s good points, I’d add that laws aren’t the only problem. Voter turnout among Latinos and Asian-Americans is low for a complicated mix of reasons, some of which are unrelated to Republican malfeasance.
Whatever the cause of the current situation, though, a rise in minority turnout could transform politics. In that case, “the GOP will be forced to reboot itself with a new ethos and a new message that appeals to Hispanic and Asian voters (black voters probably being out of reach for them no matter what),” Smith writes. “Ultimately, the reason to focus on democracy is to help the Republicans go sane again.”
Programming note. I’ll be away next week, but the newsletter will continue. My colleague Ian Prasad Philbrick will give you a couple of reading suggestions based on the day’s news. I will also have an item in each day’s newsletter, writing about a topic that I find important but haven’t found room to mention in the newsletter so far, given the pace of news.
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