The Monday Morning Teaser

For the last few weeks, I’d been treating Roy Moore’s victory as a done deal. Alabama’s mainstream Republicans, I was sure, would bemoan their fate and agonize about their choice, but in the end they’d do what Republicans always do and vote Republican, no matter how reprehensible Moore was. And mostly they did, but there were just enough defectors that a big turnout of black voters could push Doug Jones over the top.

I’m using that upset as a current-events hook for an article I’ve been working on for a while: a discussion of Daniel Ziblatt’s book Conservative Parties and the Birth of Democracy. Ziblatt is a historian and his book is about the evolution of democracy in Europe from 1848-1950, but it’s hard not to make the connection to the Trump era in America. Ziblatt claims that countries that developed a healthy conservative party (like Britain) had a smooth evolution towards democracy, while countries without such a party zig-zagged from revolution to counter-revolution (like Germany).

Ziblatt’s focus is the rise of democracy, but it’s an obvious extension to wonder about its decline: We have a very unhealthy conservative party, one that has come unmoored from its traditional stances. The party leadership can’t stand up to outside forces (i.e., big donors and pressure groups like the NRA), while its base has drifted towards being a personality cult.

It’s tempting for Democrats to react with glee when the GOP nominates beatable candidates like Roy Moore, but it’s also an ominous development: Democracy needs a healthy conservative party, and America has a sick one. I’ll examine that idea in more detail in “Should We Care What Happens to the GOP’s Soul?” That should be out around 9 EST.

The weekly summary has a lot to cover: not just the nitty-gritty of the Jones/Moore results, but also tax reform, the attacks against the Mueller investigation, the end of net neutrality, seven words Trump won’t let the CDC use, and more. It will be out later than usual, maybe not until after noon.

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  • GJacq726  On December 18, 2017 at 8:47 am

    Thanks for addressing the GOP from the angle of a needed conservative voice of democracy. I, for one, have been troubled by its demise, because I see them as necessary to the process, though as you, not in their current state. Very curious to see where you go with this.

  • Eric  On December 18, 2017 at 9:14 am

    I very much hope you tackle Politico’s lengthy exposé about the Obama administration’s supposed political aversion to investigations into Hezbollah drug and organized crime activity in pursuit of the Iran deal. It’s a very complicated situation to digest, and I (and surely many others of your readers), could benefit from your talent for reading between the lines.

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