Looking at where we are today, it makes a certain amount of sense that the Florida recount also gave birth to TPM. There are themes that defined Josh Marshall’s solo blogging in those early days that have remained throughlines of TPM’s approach to politics right up until, and through, the Trump era.
One of those similarities is the cast of characters. There was a “mix of extremism and self-parody” in the figures that the recount brought to the fore, Josh observes in the video above. That, of course, has continued and intensified on the right. It is perhaps best encapsulated in Trump himself, and in his more enthusiastic cronies, including Roger Stone and Matt Schlapp, both of whom are proud veterans of the “Brooks Brothers riot.”
There’s another, more insidious theme that runs from the 2000 election right through 2020: voter suppression. “It’s the Florida recount, and it’s the 2000 election, that I think really puts Republicans onto the voter suppression thing as a central part of their party identity,” Josh recalls.
The recount made clear, he adds, that “if everybody votes, it’s a problem for them.”
Republicans’ full embrace of voter suppression — fueled by disingenuous claims of the need to stamp out voter fraud — is a story that simmered through the 2000s and 2010s only to boil over in the 2020 election. Throughout that time, it’s been core to TPM’s coverage, including the U.S. attorneys firing scandal, voter ID laws, and, in 2020, the fight over mail-in ballots.
From the perspective of November 2000, a lot remains the same. Central themes have only grown more exaggerated and cartoonish. Self -parody has seen itself parodied. But the need to shine light on the bad acting remains the same.