Editors’ Blog

Making Sense of the Post-Trump Era #11 Prime Badge

From TPM Reader HL

I feel I’ve weathered the transition fairly well. After many years of watching evening MSNBC, I essentially stopped watching the night after Ruth Bader Ginzburg died, and shifted all my newsgathering to the written form from Twitter to actual newspapers. I felt less harried and no less informed, and paved the way for a presidency I don’t have to worry about.

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Making Sense of the Post-Trump Era #10 Prime Badge

From TPM Reader IG

This moment has me thinking about the feeling that we’ve been robbed of time. People like to talk about the odd way in which 2020 feels as if it was both endless and just didn’t happen at all. I’ve only recently stopped saying “last summer” when I really mean the summer of 2019. But, the truth is, the whole of the last five years of Trumpism feel this way. If this really is the end of the Trump era then it is still like we just gave away half a decade of our lives to this all-consuming negativity.

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Making Sense of the Post-Trump Era #9 Prime Badge

From TPM Reader PJ

I’m with a lot of your readers. While I think the day to day is less punctuated by evental feelings of panic and worry, things are bad and not sure to get worse. We have a very undemocratic political system. The more democratic elements of our system carry most of their potential in how a judiciary might find them to be very expansive, but that judiciary is owned by the right. I think in 2009 the GOP triggered the Doomsday Machine. The rabid anti-Obama partisanship, the debt ceiling debacles in the years that followed, right-wing enthusiasm for racist police killings, GamerGate, Trump’s rise, the final removal of the mask of respectability of the Republican Party…the white masculine death machine is on the march. Just consider the judiciary….even if we got the Fantasyland Biden of our dreams, how much of what he does will hold up to right-wing judicial review? We’re talking about a court system that might take us back to a pre-Lochner territory, eliminate the governmental ability to delegate regulatory authority to executive agencies…this is return to Medieval stuff.

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A Note

In this on-going series of posts on ‘Making Sense of the Post-Trump Era’ I should be clear that I don’t mean this to prejudge the question. I mean ‘post-Trump’ only in the very narrow sense of the period after Trump left the White House. I think it’s very much an open question – one implicit or explicit in almost all your emails – whether we’re really “post” at all.

For my part, I increasingly think that we are ‘post-Trump’ in terms of the man himself. I think defeat just gutted him. The GOP remains in his thrall but much more as a placeholder or symbol than as someone actively engaged in national politics. But it’s not really about the man himself, at least not mainly. It’s about the civic degeneracy that created him and which galvanized, brought into light of day and made aware of itself.

Where Things Stand: Yet Another Data Point Suggesting Trump Screwed GOP In Georgia Prime Badge
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As Republicans — led by former President Trump — peddled lies about a stolen election and rampant voter fraud post-November, Georgia still had two runoff elections to conduct. And there was much speculation at the time about whether the Big Lie might actually harm Republican chances in the state.

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Making Sense of the Post-Trump Era #8 Prime Badge

From TPM Reader MG

You asked, “What Sense Are You Making of the Post-Trump Era?”

Well, there is simply a mixture of relief and apprehension.

The relief is for the obvious things: The relatively smooth deployments of the Covid vaccines, a steady hand at the helm of state, government doing what the federal government should do, no more intentional twitter eruptions and all of that. Considering where we were on January 20th, it is immensely comforting to be where we are right now.

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Making Sense of the Post-Trump Era #7 Prime Badge

From TPM Reader JE, a rather different take on the question, less political outlook than deeply personal, inter-personal experience …

So, by far the biggest outcome for me from the “Post Trump Era” (and to some extent I need to move the date back to November 2016 to describe this fully) is the realization that a lot of middle class white Americans (I’m in that group) are still racist as hell. Prior to that the racism was couched in careful language, was eased out with a nod and a wink that indicated that maybe someone still wasn’t on board with the modern state of the world.

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Making Sense of the Post-Trump Era #6 Prime Badge

From TPM Reader KG

I’ve enjoyed reading the replies to your question, but I have a somewhat different take. As a 79-year old white female I’ve seen remarkable changes in the country. Change being the operative word. My first brush with politics came on a train carrying Harry Truman, who I watched speak while sitting on my father’s shoulders. I’ve been a political junky ever since.

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A Note on TPM

One of the many things I do at TPM is occasionally write emails to inspire people to become TPM members, re-up if they’ve lapsed or just thank them for being members already. I wrote one of these this morning and I thought I’d share it. I do so in part because it would be great if you could join up if you’re not currently a member but even more because writing one of these out gives me an opportunity to — forces me to — place TPM in the current moment and say why I think it matters.

Take a look.

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Understanding the Moment Prime Badge

Thank you to everyone who’s sent in their reads on making sense of the post-Trump Era. I’ll be publishing more this afternoon. Keep them coming. My interest in soliciting these notes is that we are in a confused and confusing political-historical moment. It’s important to untangle that for anyone who is concerned about the country and civic life. It’s even more pressing for a news organization.

We owe a great deal to the insights and knowledge we gain from the social sciences, with their modeling, systems creation and statistics. But at core humans are a story-telling species. We organize the world around us through storylines, narrative arcs, the actions of individuals, the interplay of actions and reactions through time. This isn’t to embrace a “great man” theory of history. It’s not a comment on how history works. It’s a statement about how our brains apprehend, understand things – how we take the discrete facts we find and put them together into something that tells us something. Nor is it to relativize contending ‘narratives’, something that has long been the province of certain parts of the academic world and through a strange alchemy is now also pervasive on the right. Some narratives are truer than others. Many are deeply false. It is simply that we understand most intuitively through storylines, through the progression of events and the actions of people.

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Watch The New Episode Of The Josh Marshall Podcast: Guilty

A new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast just landed. You can listen to it here.

This week, Josh and Kate discuss the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial and take their first listener question.

Watch below:

Where Things Stand: Bipartisan Agreement On Badness Prime Badge
This is your TPM afternoon briefing.

The most obviously bad parts of the Georgia voting law are seen, by voters of both parties, as obviously bad, according to a new poll.

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Yay for (Ball Game) Vaccine Passports Prime Badge

The Los Angeles Dodgers have created a special section at Dodger Stadium for fans who are fully vaccinated. A few other teams have introduced similar set asides. This is a good idea and we need more of it. The reward for being vaccinated should be to get back to life as usual as much as possible and as quickly as possible. Now that vaccines are pretty widely available for people 16 and over there’s no reason you should need to be seated near or with others who’ve chosen not to get vaccinated when you’re enjoying a ball game.

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Making Sense of the Post-Trump Era #5 Prime Badge

From TPM Reader ST

Asking the question about how we’re all coping with the post-Trump era helped clarify for me the continuing unease I feel.

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Making Sense of the Post-Trump Era #4 Prime Badge

From TPM Reader BS

I had hoped that this time might be different. That on the rebound from Trump, we might see some truly transformational legislation. That the filibuster would be scrapped, D.C. would be granted statehood, the right to vote would be protected and expanded, and the courts would significantly unwound from their recent rightward corkscrew. Mainly, though, I had what I knew to be an irrational hope that there would be action on climate sufficient to fit the moment.

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Making Sense of the Post-Trump Era #3 Prime Badge

From TPM Reader JB

I always wanted to believe Trump was a last desperate charge of Old White Men in a losing a 50 year (or 150 year) war to retain their monopoly on power. Demographics are against them. Young people lean against them. Women lean against them. Black and Brown people lean against them. Cities against. Coasts against. The educated against. They know it. They fear it. They hate it. Voting for Trump was supposed to be a giant fuck you on their way out — half curse, half joke. But he won, it went to their heads, and they tried to end the game before losing it.

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Making Sense of the Post-Trump Era #2 Prime Badge

From TPM Reader EF

I have been very heartened by Biden. The legislative success of the stimulus, the competence shown with the vaccine rollout, and the upcoming stimulus bill point to the possibility of people rediscovering that government can make a difference in their lives.

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Excited to announce that we’re hiring for a newly created position: Editor for Content Strategy and Audience Development. This editor will help nourish and grow the TPM community. I think you’re going to like what this new role will enable us to do. We want a fantastic new teammate, so help us out. Please spread the word to your sharpest, most talented friends and colleagues – and put in a good word for us. Thanks.

Where Things Stand: White Gun Couple Clings To Relevance Prime Badge
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Armed homeowners Mark T. and Patricia N. McCloskey stand in front their house as they confront protesters marching to St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson's house on June 28, 2020. The protesters called for Krewson's resignation for releasing the names and addresses of residents who suggested defunding the police department. (Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS)

Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all counts in the murder of George Floyd last night, the first verdict of its kind in a landmark case that inspired a wave of protests across the nation last summer against police brutality and systemic racism.

A few hours later, the St. Louis lawyer Mark McCloskey — who become known for standing barefoot outside his home alongside his wife last summer as the two pointed weapons at peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters — told Politico that he was considering a Senate bid in Missouri.

“I can confirm that it’s a consideration, yes,” McCloskey reportedly said Tuesday evening.

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Check out our Inside Briefing with Recent Biden Appointee Justin Levitt Prime Badge

Recently, Justin Levitt, Professor of Law at Loyola Law School and an expert on constitutional jurisprudence and voting rights issues, was named White House Senior Policy Advisor for Democracy & Voting Rights by President Joseph Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. In February, Levitt joined Josh and Tierney for an Inside Briefing to discuss his thoughts on the state of elections in the United States, voting rights issues, and the importance of institutions in a democracy. Members can watch the discussion after the jump. Read More

Among the Vaccine Hesitant Prime Badge

There are a host of articles today about the US reaching a vaccination tipping point at which the key challenge is no longer the supply of vaccine but the supply of people willing to take it. Like “herd immunity” it isn’t a binary, clear-cut moment. It’s incremental. We’re approaching it now and the challenge will accelerate over the next two to four weeks. In many ways this challenge is a product of our success. In January I don’t think anyone thought we’d have widespread availability and half of all adults vaccinated in April. But we did it.

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Making Sense of the Post-Trump Era #1 Prime Badge

I’m working my way through your emails on making sense of the post-Trump Era. Please keep them coming. (See the linked post for more details.) They are fascinating but like the topic itself they are hard to bring into focus. There are common themes but they are elusive. I will be publishing a number of them. But I wanted to start with this note from TPM Reader CC, who lives in Australia. It’s a very different perspective given that’s from someone in a foreign country on the other side of the world. But I found it very interesting as a window into what America now looks like from abroad …

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Where Things Stand: Bush Describes Modern-Day GOP As ‘Nativist’ Prime Badge
This is your TPM afternoon briefing.
BENTON HARBOR, MI - MAY 28: Former President George W. Bush speaks at the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan May 28, 2009 in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Bush was to discuss his presidency and life, as well as the economy and world events in his first speech since leaving office. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

“It’s not exactly my vision,” former President George W. Bush said of his Party during a live interview with NBC’s “Today” show this morning.

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Brian Sicknick and the Modalities of Brainstem Strokes Prime Badge

A very interesting backgrounder from TPM Reader AH on the specifics of the kind of stroke that killed Brian Sicknick …

Hi, Josh! This is a topic I really do know something about – I am consulted to see several patients for stroke every day. The news about Brian Sicknick having died from a brainstem stroke is a bit of a surprise to me, because they are uncommon in general, and for a young, healthy guy to have one raises my eyebrows. To die from one is less surprising – these are the most, or maybe tied for the most lethal strokes you could possibly have.

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What To Make of the Death of Brian Sicknick? Prime Badge

What are we to make of yesterday’s news that Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died of ‘natural causes’? Sicknick’s death and to a much lesser degree the suicides of two other Capitol Police Officers within days of the insurrection are inextricably bound up in the story of that day and the gravity of those events. The Medical Examiner’s comments to the Post were themselves contradictory, at least in layman’s terms. Francisco J. Diaz found no discrete injury such as a head wound that would have been a proximate cause of Sicknick’s strokes. He also found no sign of acute respiratory constriction, which would be the standard sign of an allergic reaction to chemical spray which also could have caused a subsequent stroke. Yet Diaz also said of the events of January 6th and Sicknick’s confrontation with insurrectionists that “all that transpired played a role in his condition.”

What does that mean?

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What Sense Are You Making of the Post-Trump Era?

You see the question. Tell me what you’re thinking, what sense you’re making of the post-Trump Era. How does it feel? Withdrawal? Relief? Confusion? Perhaps as important as anything what do you expect? Over the next year and the next four?

I’ve written in a few posts about what I’ve called the Politics of Opaqueness, how much the direction of events is now seemingly driven by decisions, developments, fortuitous and otherwise, that are outside of our view. Even more than this though, I think most people – myself included – thought we had a pretty clear view into what a post-Trump presidency would be like. Trump leaving doesn’t mean the end of Trumpism, he’ll continue to dominate the scene from the outside. In the event, I don’t think much of that has turned out to be true.

What are you seeing? Drop me your notes at the main email address.

Where Things Stand: A Return To The Other Very American Problem Prime Badge
This is your TPM afternoon briefing.
DAYTON, OH - AUGUST 5:Samuel Klug, L, and John Neff place candles around a makeshift memorial at the scene of a mass shooting in the city's historic Oregon District where Connor Betts used an "AR-15-like" rifle about 24 hours earlier to kill nine people, including his sister, and injure 27 others, on Monday, August 5, 2019, in Dayton, OH. Neff's friend is one of the 27 people injured, shot through the hand. "I've never been through something like this before," Neff said. "This is pretty painful. I don't have kids, but I would hate to be feeling what a parent is going through right now. This is awful." He added, "I don't think thoughts and prayers are going to protect us anymore. I don't think they ever have. We need some gun laws that are going to protect us, and protect our husbands and wives and kids. I think we need people in power that are going to protect our future. If we continue to let this happen, who knows if we're going to have a future." The attack came less than a day after a man with a high-powered weapon killed 20 people in El Paso, Texas, and a week after a gunman killed three people and wounded 12 at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post).

The pandemic has brought to a head the complexities of one very uniquely American problem: the emphasis we as a country put on individual freedoms, which, this past year, has repeatedly run headlong into the need to care for our fellow man during a global health crisis.

It’s also revealed in new ways a more depressing American problem: mass shootings.

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Milestones and What’s Next

Today is the first day that everyone in the United States 16 and over is eligible to be vaccinated. 25.4% of the US population is now fully vaccinated. But look a bit deeper and you see that as of this morning 50.4% of Americans 18 and over have now received at least one shot. 32.5% are fully vaccinated. Given the interval of 3 or 4 weeks between injections, we can figure that by mid-May around 50% of all adults will have been vaccinated.

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Watch The New Episode Of The Josh Marshall Podcast: Politics of Opaqueness

A new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast just landed. You can listen to it here.

This week, Josh and Kate discuss policing reform, analyze the dynamics around the infrastructure package and introduce a new segment.

Watch below:

Follow us on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

Where Things Stand: Anti-Trans Bills Are The GOP’s New Culture War. But Most Americans Aren’t On Board Prime Badge
This is your TPM afternoon briefing.
TIMES SQUARE NYC, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2017/07/26: On July 26, 2017, after a series of tweets by President Donald Trump, which proposed to ban transgender people from military service, thousands of New Yorkers took the streets of in opposition.  Thousands of transgender soldiers are currently serving in all branches of the United States Armed forces. (Photo by Michael Nigro/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Without any real policy agenda, Republicans in Congress have largely seized on various fronts in the culture war to distract from Biden’s successes. And GOPers at the state level are doing the same, with a new heightened focus on an element of their socially conservative base’s traditional values: Going after the LGBT community.

Lately, that’s meant a fresh wave of anti-trans rights bills.

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