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David Leonhardt’s Centrist Nostalgia Won’t Save Democracy

The step of Presidential Election Reform Act in the House of Representatives on Wednesday highlighted the curious fact that the only Republicans willing to take a stand to protect American democracy are those with no political future in their party. The law is designed to close the constitutional loophole that Donald Trump tried to use on January 6 to allow Congress to override the Electoral College. In theory, it should be a reform that enjoys broad bipartisan support, since a repetition of the attempted insurrection would lead to a constitutional crisis.

The law, co-authored by Representatives Liz Cheney and Zoe Lofgren, was bipartisan only by a slim margin. Cheney was joined by eight other Republicans who voted in favor along with 220 Democrats. ace washington post reports“None of those nine Republican lawmakers will be a member of Congress next year, either because they lost their primaries or decided to retire.”

In other words, support for the bill among Republicans came from a small minority faction within the party, a minuscule group that has already been effectively purged. The vote on the law is just the latest evidence that the GOP mainstream has fully embraced Trumpism and turned its back on democracy.

The current threat to democracy is so pressing that even mainstream media outlets that have long emphasized bipartisan neutrality have been forced to acknowledge the asymmetrical danger of the Republican Party. on Saturday, New York Times senior reporter David Leonhardt published a substantial and extensive feature examining “the twin threats to American democracy.” The first threat, according to Leonhardt, is “a growing movement within one of the country’s two major parties, the Republican Party,refuse to accept defeat in an election.” The second threat, the journalist maintains, is more “chronic” and structural: “The power to set government policy is increasingly disconnected from public opinion.”

Because of its clarity on the first threat, Leonhardt’s column is a welcome addition to the burgeoning literature on the fragility of American democracy. It’s crucial that centrist voices like Leonhardt are explicit about the growing consensus within the GOP that the election can be overturned. Leonhardt convincingly argues that the recent anti-democratic turn in politics can be attributed to white Americans anxious about changing demographics, along with the ease with which counter-majority mechanisms in the political system (the Senate, the Electoral College, the Court Supreme) can be exploited by a political party adopting the minority government.


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