Dark Times Require Focus

February 4, 2020 1:11 a.m.

Iowa shouldn’t matter. It’s a small state that looks very different from the national Democratic electorate. In 2016 it voted Republican. This state’s outsized impact on the presidential nominating process rests somewhere between absurd and scandalous. But this debacle tonight is difficult to process.

We shouldn’t have caucuses at all. All things that are functionally elections and render results as elections should be by ballot and run by the states. States can and do frequently screw things up. But we’ve been running elections in this country for going on a quarter millennium. We’ve had lots of practice at it. This debacle starts to seem more understandable when you realize that this was a new system — run a different way, with a plan to report not one but three different totals. (It’s another reminder that apart from semi-banning superdelegates, the various post 2016 reforms have ranged from misguided to disastrous.) It’s the first time trying it. Even apart from an app that apparently didn’t work things can go wrong when you do something for the first time.

No caucuses. Real elections run by the states.

I’m not a huge fan of Axios. But they’re quite good at scuttlebutt and access journalism within the Trump White House. They ran a story a couple days ago reporting that the lesson the President has learned from his impending acquittal is that he is “invincible.” Everything people told him was too crazy and he couldn’t do he did and he was right. In Vanity Fair Gabriel Sherman reports that President Trump is compiling an impeachment enemies list and wants John Bolton criminally investigated and put in prison.

Whether each of these reports is accurate isn’t clear. In the Trump world the question may be over-determined. Trump is constantly saying crazy things. It’s likely hard even on the inside to know which mean anything and which don’t. What is clear is that President Trump will almost certainly feel more unbound in 2020. He will feel vindicated and newly dangerous if he is reelected. People who oppose Trump need to be focused like never before.

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