“Democracy is on the brink of disaster. For voters, it’s politics as usual.”

Rick P, in the previous blog post, was right to highlight Karen Tumulty’s column. The Washington Post today also has a piece presenting a rather depressing counterargument, by Colgate political scientist Sam Rosenfeld. The conclusion (although it’s definitely worth reading the whole thing):

“It would be helpful if more Republicans recognized that normal politics still gives them a perfectly good shot at victory — and that they don’t need to burn the house down to win power. But the party’s recent illiberal turn has deep roots, drawing on currents of extremism and procedural ruthlessness on the American right that stretch back many decades — and the very fact that the electoral punishment for transgressing democratic norms is so slight means Republicans have no need to grapple with the trade-off if they don’t wish to. And this is how electoral politics as usual might doom democracy itself.”

Accepting this as the reality, I see the potential solution only being the kind of structural reform of electoral systems that prevents anti-democracy Republicans from being the dominant force on the political right. For at least as long as “burn the house down” Republicans are not the majority preference among general-election voters in most states, it’s worth pursuing ways that the electoral process can be reformed so that “burn the house down” Republicans are not the only right-of-center options on November general-election ballots in states (and districts) that lean right-of-center. That way right-of-center voters can pursue their “normal politics” preferences with a candidate who, allied with with enough “left-of-center” preferences against burning the house down, can secure a Condorcet-majority victory.

Given the gravity of the threat, I’m eager to hear of other remedies for this disease. But as I tweeted on Thursday, Peter Baker accurately diagnoses the current pathology: “Those who speak against [Trump] are purged, and his endorsement is the most coveted asset in almost any Republican primary.” Consequently, in the second part of the two-tweet thread, if this is an accurate diagnosis, the cure must be structural reform that prevents an authoritarian like Trump from controlling which right-of-center candidates are on the November general-election ballot.

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