George Packer: “The corruption I mean has less to do with individual perfidy than institutional depravity. It isn’t an occasional failure to uphold norms, but a consistent repudiation of them. It isn’t about dirty money so much as the pursuit and abuse of power—power as an end in itself, justifying almost any means. Political corruption usually trails financial scandals in its wake—the foam is scummy with self-dealing—but it’s far more dangerous than graft. There are legal remedies for Duncan Hunter, the defeated representative from California, who will stand trial next year for using campaign funds to pay for family luxuries. But there’s no obvious remedy for what the state legislatures of Wisconsin and Michigan, following the example of North Carolina in 2016, are now doing.”
“A growing number of Republicans fear that a battery of new revelations in the far-reaching Russia investigation has dramatically heightened the legal and political danger to Donald Trump’s presidency — and threatens to consume the rest of the party as well,” the Washington Post reports.
“Trump remains headstrong in his belief that he can outsmart adversaries and weather any threats, according to advisers. In the Russia probe, he continues to roar denials, dubiously proclaiming that the latest allegations of wrongdoing by his former associates ‘totally clear‘ him.”
“But anxiety is spiking among Republican allies, who complain that Trump and the White House have no real plan for dealing with the Russia crisis while confronting a host of other troubles at home and abroad.”
“The outgoing chair of the California GOP — the nation’s largest state Republican Party — has issued a dire warning that his state represents ‘the canary in the coal mine’ for the party‘s national fortunes unless it confronts demographic shifts that have already turned California into a majority-minority state,” Politico reports.
Said former state Sen. Jim Brulte: “We have not yet been able to figure out how to effectively communicate and get significant numbers of votes from non-whites.”
Zack Beauchamp: “These power grabs highlight one of the most disturbing facts about American politics today: The Republican Party has become institutionally indifferent to the health of democracy. It prioritizes power over principle to such an extreme degree that it undermines the most basic functioning of democracy.”
“In the long run, the GOP’s turn against democracy could well be a greater threat to the American experiment than anything President Trump has done.”
Slate: “Republicans in Michigan, Wisconsin, and North Carolina haven’t gone as far as to challenge the results of their respective elections, but their actions, which serve to hamstring the incoming body of duly elected officials, are movement in that direction. In national politics, Republican lawmakers are openly questioning the legitimacy of the Democratic House of Representatives victory, casting ordinary acts—the counting of ballots—as potentially insidious. Indeed, much of the Republican Party has already embraced voter suppression, extreme gerrymandering, and other methods to preserve legislative majorities in the face of popular opposition. The lame-duck power grab is just a natural next step.”
“For all the attention on Donald Trump as a threat to American democracy, it’s these actions—from ordinary, almost anonymous, Republican politicians, uncontested by anyone of influence in the party—that are much more ominous.”
“With a brutal finality, the extent of the Republicans’ collapse in the House came into focus last week as more races slipped away from them and their losses neared 40 seats,” the New York Times reports.
“Yet nearly a month after the election, there has been little self-examination among Republicans about why a midterm that had seemed at least competitive became a rout.”
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) “is the only statewide Republican left standing in Wisconsin. And now, he’s ready to take on a new role to help the party get back on track,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
Johnson said former RNC chairman Reince Priebus has agreed “to participate in a thorough review of the 2018 election and the current party structure — similar to the process he led for the RNC following the 2012 presidential election.”
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Washington Post: “Five years after the GOP produced a self-examination that called for reconciliation with minority voters, the party has grown increasingly tolerant of racially divisive politics, making its support base even whiter as potential minority voters and candidates are driven away.”
“The approach has provided a measure of success where, in multiple races this year, black Democrats mobilized unusually high turnouts only to be defeated by white opponents who did the same among white voters. It has produced two vastly different American electorates that both parties are struggling to grapple with ahead of the 2020 presidential election.”
“While some have expressed concern that the party is becoming racially desensitized in a way that produces short-term gains but risks long-term peril, there is little evidence of institutional worry. Those most concerned about the direction of the party are out of office, out of favor — or, when it comes to matters of race, just outliers.”
NBC News: “Both parties are still sifting through mountains of data and it will take time to determine how many converts Democrats won versus how much their base’s enthusiasm carried the day.”
“But strategists, pollsters, and nonpartisan analysts who spoke to NBC News say the early data points to a serious problem for the GOP with voters they once counted on, especially suburban woman, even as they’ve made gains with ex-Democrats in rural areas and small towns.”
The Republican National Committee faced criticism on Black Friday after it promoted a sale on items in President Trump’s online store, the HuffPost reports.
“The RNC has previously used its Twitter account to hawk Trump-themed pet leashes on National Puppy Day, old Trump merchandise for the Olympics, and pink-themed items for Mother’s Day.”
“We’re the party of Abraham Lincoln, so I cannot believe that this party is just going to go away. It won’t. But we have to learn from our mistakes, and lick our wounds, and start again.”
— Cindy McCain, in an interview with the BBC, on the future of the Republican Party.
“In the wake of a near-political annihilation in California that has left even longtime conservative stronghold Orange County bereft of a single Republican in the House of Representatives, a growing chorus of GOP loyalists here say there’s only one hope for reviving the flatlining party: Blow it up and start again from scratch,” Politico reports.
“That harsh assessment comes as Republicans survey the damage from the devastation of a ‘blue tsunami’ in California which wiped out five GOP-held House seats — with more still threatened — while handing every statewide seat and a supermajority to the Democrats in both houses of the state legislature this week.”
E.J. Dionne: “When a national leader urges that votes be ignored, or that an election result he doesn’t like might best be set aside, we label him an autocrat or an authoritarian.”
“When it’s President Trump, we shrug. Worse, many in his party go right along with his baseless charges of fraud.”
“We are in for a difficult two years. Surviving them will require that Republican senators take seriously the pledge they made in their oath of office to ‘support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.’ What we have seen so far is not encouraging.”
“The California Republican Party isn’t salvageable at this time.”
— Former California GOP Assembly leader Kristin Olsen, writing for Cal Matters.
Brian Beutler: “Trump is a singularly nasty and corrupt individual, but he also embodies something that has been clear about Republican politics for years: Advancing the conservative agenda any further—cutting taxes on the wealthy, slashing public services—requires more and more obfuscation, fewer and fewer voters, and increasingly naked white identity politics.”
“If Donald Trump didn’t exist, Republicans would have had to invent him. Or someone like him. The alternative would have been to moderate the conservative agenda in meaningful ways, and the party has been uncompromising in that regard.”
Rick Wilson: “Cesar Sayoc isn’t just some loner gone wrong. He isn’t merely a one-in-a-million Unabomber with a cabin in the woods, a crazed manifesto, and too much black powder. Sayoc is the future. Donald Trump’s famously loyal base has been radicalized, and while only the tiniest fraction will resort to political violence, neither the president nor the hollow shell of the GOP will do anything to stop it.”
“This is a president with obvious mental and moral deficits who will say and do anything to retain power. He’s backed by a runaway ‘conservative’ media feeding his rabid base a daily dose of conspiratorial lunacy. There is no mechanism to stop Trump’s division, radicalization, and calls to arms against his enemies.”
“America was lucky this week; none of the weapons exploded, and the FBI and state law enforcement moved with amazing speed to apprehend the bomber. We might not always be so lucky, particularly if this president continues to give what future Sayocs see as their marching orders.”
Jonathan Bernstein: “What’s really astonishing about the Republican Party, in other words, is the extent to which practically none of its members appear to care about public policy on issue after issue.”
“Of course, there are some individual Republicans who care deeply about health care or foreign policy or trade or various other policy questions. And some Republican-aligned interest groups have been getting what they want in regulatory change. But if they didn’t, would they go shopping to see if Democrats would be more willing to help them? It doesn’t appear that way. For example, on trade, a lot of business interests theoretically oppose Trump-inspired Republican protectionism, but they aren’t remotely open to moving toward a Democratic Party that is more willing to support free trade. The same has been true on health care: Some organized groups that have been traditionally Republican are choosing the party over their self-interest when support for the Affordable Care Act helped them and repeal would have harmed them.”
“So, party loyalty, not ideology or specific policy or even basic self-interest, drives most Republican party actors most of the time. It really is a post-policy party.”
Former Rep. David Jolly (R-FL) quietly registered under no-party affiliation several weeks ago, the Tampa Bay Times reports, “spurred in large part by the pending birth of a daughter for whom they wanted to set an example and not be part of of the Trump party.”
Said Jolly: “It’s also just a personal rejection of partisanship. It’s a very comfortable place for us to be.”
As President Trump builds his team for 2020, he has asked Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel to serve a second term, according to Axios.