Over the weekend I had an exchange with TPM Reader AB that I’d like to share with you. AB is a dedicated listener to our podcast (and you should be too!) as well as a reader and he flagged an exchange in which my cohost Kate Riga discussed Donald Trump’s recent “vermin” comments, which mapped quite closely to a lot of Nazi rhetoric from the 1920s and 1930s. The comments would have gotten more attention, she said, had they happened in the heat of the campaign instead of 9 months or a year prior. AB insisted that we need to be vigilant. We need to be sounding Red Alerts. We can’t be complacent thinking the actual election is a year off and everything will change for be better.
To be clear, this was an aside from Kate in part of a longer discussion. And AB himself seemed to recognize this. So I raise this not to disagree with anyone or call anyone out. I note it because it illustrates an impulse and dynamic I think countless Democrats (and others who simply oppose Donald Trump) are finding themselves caught up in. I won’t belabor the foundational point. Trump 1.0 was really bad. Trump 2.0 promises to be much worse. A year out, polls suggest Trump and Biden are tied or with Trump slightly ahead in the popular vote. That makes something really unthinkable seem like a very real possibility.
That’s bad. Really bad. So get to sounding the Red Alerts. Break the glass and pull the alarm. Pick your metaphor. These are all very understandable and logical responses, not so much — in my mind at least — because of the percentage chances of one candidate winning over the other but because of the consequences of a bad outcome.