Are the Republicans giving up on democracy? | The notch | Detroit

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Donald Trump was in Michigan on Saturday. Don’t get me wrong: Michigan is lovely in October. But he didn’t come to pick apples, watch football or enjoy the crisp autumn weather. Instead, he came at the behest of candidates for three of the state’s top offices. And Michigan is far from Trump’s only stop this fall. He’s been in Pennsylvania and, if plans work out, he’ll be shouting into microphones on behalf of Republicans in Arizona, Ohio and North Carolina before Election Day.

These candidates are not running in the Republican primaries, where Donald Trump’s approval carries weight. They stand for general elections, where they have to compete for voters who have not been baptized in the MAGA slop.

Recent polls show that two-thirds of independents disapprove of Trump — the voters Republicans must turn to in November if they have any hope of winning.

So with Trump’s approval underwater, why bring him to your state? The answer says a lot about the GOP’s long game with American democracy.

Let me first give my most generous interpretation. Maybe MAGA candidates are so deep in the hall of mirrors where they live that they actually think this guy can help them win elections. They believe that his denial of the tin hat election, the claim that he is being politically persecuted, or his antiquated brand of bravado may actually inspire some non-existent underground base to come out to the polls on their behalf.

To be fair here, one of the deepest conceptual challenges in politics is looking beyond your own echo chamber—realizing that the positive feedback you get on the trail doesn’t translate to more than half of the electorate like you more than the other person. Maybe the MAGA types just can’t see past the minority of Americans who have absorbed their lies.

But there is a more sinister interpretation here. While it takes a majority of voters to win an election, it takes far, far fewer to undermine one. Although each of these candidates is ostensibly running for election to public office using our democracy, they embrace a failed politician who sees his only way back to power through denying one. In doing so, Trump-embracing candidates are explicitly choosing to use their platforms to undermine the edifice of our democracy rather than trying to succeed within it.

In that respect, it’s hard not to see these midterms as anything but a win-win proposition for a GOP bent on power — not through, but despite of our democracy. If they lose, they will exploit their loss and claim foul play to feed their base even more of the grievance they are campaigning on. And if, despite their embrace of an anti-democratic demagogue, they happen to win, then they will happily claim victory and use their positions to similarly undo our democracy.

“This is the most important choice of our lives” is a tired cliché at this point. But it’s true — and it will continue to be true every election for the foreseeable future. That’s because the GOP’s brinksmanship is like an automated ante-raising machine. Win or lose, they raise the stakes.

It also means that winning is not enough. We have to win, and we shall rule. The Republican grievance machine works because too many people believe the government isn’t doing it. It runs on broken promises and unmet needs, and directs the uncertainty it creates not at the very Republican Party that has for decades undermined our society’s ability to provide basic resources to Americans — but at Democrats who have promised to overcome it .

Democrats need to get serious about delivering what we promise: an education system that fits our children’s brains, affordable, accessible housing, clean air and water, basic rights over your own body, the ability to take a few weeks off , when you’re a child, or a parent gets sick, or if you have a child, childcare that allows you to work without having to sacrifice that entire check.

The GOP mocks its base for asking what the point of elections even is. Our answer must come in demonstrating the value of winning them.

Originally published October 4 in The Incision. Get more at

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