One Senator Sees the Extreme Danger

You could argue that the Southern states seceding from the union was the most serious attack on American democracy. But the slave states weren’t merely trying to change the way we govern ourselves. They were attacking the United States itself, trying to break it apart. Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut is correct when he says: “Right now, the most serious attempt to overthrow our democracy in the history of our of country is underway. Those who are pushing to make Dxxxx Txxxx President, no matter the outcome of the election, are engaged in a treachery against their nation.”

He spoke for 14 minutes on Friday and then later to Greg Sargent of The Washington Post.

Greg Sargent asks a good question:

How many other Democrats have you heard making this case in such stark terms?:

Yes, you regularly hear Democrats claiming that it’s time that Republicans accept that Txxxx lost. Or you hear them slamming Txxxx’s lawsuits as frivolous. Or you hear them suggesting that Republicans are spineless for not standing up to Txxxx, as if they harbor deeply held principles they’d adhere to if only Txxxx’s rage-tweets weren’t so frightening.

But you don’t often hear them saying what Murphy suggested here: that the Republican Party has morphed into a malignant and profoundly dangerous threat to the country and the long-term prospects for our democratic stability.

I followed up with Murphy to ask what prompted this speech.

“I have a very clear sense of the danger this all poses to the republic,” Murphy told me. “If this becomes at all normalized more broadly than it already is, they will steal an election two years from now or four years from now.”

“And then I’m not sure how we keep our democracy together,” Murphy continued.

. . . President-elect Joe Biden’s team — which has adopted the posture that much of what Republicans are doing is just a stunt — wants to reassure the country that the transition is proceeding smoothly, and might not want too much focus on this disruption. But that risks misleading the public about the tenuousness of the moment. . . .

. . . If large swaths of the Republican Party are morphing into a much more cancerous anti-democratic force, one that in some basic sense just isn’t functioning as an actor in a democracy, how should Democrats adapt, and communicate to the public about this? How can they compete in the information wars, given the massive media machine the GOP has at its disposal?

On another front, a much more robust agenda to broaden prosperity and combat inequality and flat wages might defuse some populist anger out there. But given that the prospects for a modest economic rescue package are dim — and given the likelihood of GOP Senate control — that seems like an uphill climb.

Murphy suggested that the starting point might be to “diagnose the problem,” which would require a real reorientation in posture.

“For much of the last four years, we thought the problem was that Republicans knew what the right thing was, but they just didn’t do it because Txxxx was so scary,” Murphy told me. “I think this moment is showing us that there are a whole lot of Republicans who believe this nonsense.”

“This isn’t just a party that’s trying to stay on the good side of an enemy of democracy,” Murphy continued. “This is a party that has a whole bunch of enemies of democracy inside its top ranks. That’s bone-chilling.”