Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news media and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

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Paul Krugman: Why the 2020 Election Makes It Hard to Be Optimistic About the Future

If we can’t face up to a pandemic, how can we avoid apocalypse?

The 2020 election is over. And the big winners were the coronavirus and, quite possibly, catastrophic climate change.

OK, democracy also won, at least for now. By defeating Donald Trump, Joe Biden pulled us back from the brink of authoritarian rule.

But Trump paid less of a penalty than expected for his deadly failure to deal with Covid-19, and few down-ballot Republicans seem to have paid any penalty at all. As a headline in The Washington Post put it, “With pandemic raging, Republicans say election results validate their approach.”

And their approach, in case you missed it, has been denial and a refusal to take even the most basic, low-cost precautions — like requiring that people wear masks in public.

The epidemiological consequences of this cynical irresponsibility will be ghastly. I’m not sure how many people realize just how terrible this winter is going to be.

Amanda Marcotte: Lock him up! If Trump refuses to leave the scene after his defeat, there’s an obvious solution

To heal the country, Donald Trump needs to go away. He won’t do it on his own, so prosecution is the only answer

The national celebrations after Joe Biden decisively defeated Donald Trump in this month’s election focused heavily on the image of Trump being pushed out the door. People took to the streets and boogied down to Steam’s 1969 hit “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye.” Signs carried by celebrants tended to focus more on Trump’s loss than Biden’s victory. During Saturday’s underwhelming MAGA march in Washington, counter-protesters chanted, “Trump, pack your shit! You’re illegitimate!”

Alas, like Freddy Krueger or the shark from “Jaws,” Trump will not be easy to get rid of. It’s not just that he refuses to concede and keeps telling his supporters he will find some legal miracle to invalidate the election, a ruse that stopped being serious several days ago and is now mostly the mercenary pitch of a con man. [..]

The only solution to this problem is for Trump to be too busy trying to stay out of jail — or too busy sitting in jail — to be the forever-candidate. To save America, Biden’s Department of Justice and state prosecutors in New York should focus on holding Trump accountable for all the various alleged or apparent crimes he’s committed. Trump’s executive privilege ends on Jan. 20 at noon Eastern time. That’s when the prosecutions should begin.

The list of such crimes is so long that the only real question should be where to start.

Katherine Stewart: Trump or No Trump, Religious Authoritarianism Is Here to Stay

Their unlikely ally may have lost the White House, but Christian nationalists still plan to win the war..

Will President-elect Joe Biden’s victory force America’s Christian nationalists to rethink the unholy alliance that powered Donald Trump’s four-year tour as one of the nation’s most dangerous presidents? Don’t count on it.

The 2020 election is proof that religious authoritarianism is here to stay, and the early signs now indicate that the movement seems determined to reinterpret defeat at the top of the ticket as evidence of persecution and of its own righteousness. With or without Mr. Trump, they will remain committed to the illiberal politics that the president has so ably embodied. [..]

Republicans have long known that the judiciary is one of the most effective instruments of minority rule. Mr. Trump’s success in packing the federal judiciary — as of this writing, 220 federal judges, including three Supreme Court justices — will be one of his most devastating legacies. The prospect of further entrenching minority rule in the coming years will keep the alliance between Republicans and the religious right alive.

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the Christian nationalist response to the 2020 election is that we’ve seen this movie before. The “stolen election” meme won’t bring Mr. Trump back into the Oval Office. But then, the birther narrative never took President Barack Obama out of office, either. The point of conspiratorial narratives and apocalyptic rhetoric is to lay the groundwork for a politics of total obstruction, in preparation for the return of a “legitimate” ruler. The best guess is that religious authoritarianism of the next four years will look a lot like it did in the last four years. We ignore the political implications for our democracy at our peril.

Cas Mudde: With Trump gone, can we talk about the fear of fascism we had about him?

It’s time to start a critical self-assessment of our analyses and commentary of the past years. What held up and what didn’t?

A March on Rome it was not. The “Million Maga March” attracted an estimated 5-10,000 people, far less than the roughly 30,000 fascists that marched from Naples to Rome in 1922, and it came nowhere near the “million” it had promised – despite the usual number-boosting from Trumpists. While Mussolini was able to use his march to grab power, this march will not help Trump cling on to power. In fact, Trump was so invested in the march, that his convoy sped past the protesters so that Trump could spend another day at his golf club in Virginia.

The Million Maga March is a good reminder of how problematic comparisons with historical fascism are. As soon as Trump became a serious contender for the US presidency, in early 2016, articles and books on the death of democracy/liberalism and the rise of fascism exploded. Timothy Snyder’s On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons From the Twentieth Century became a #1 New York Times bestseller and the self-help book for anxious liberals. In 2016, users of the term “fascism” (for Trump) were criticized as fearmongers. Four years later, those not using the term were seen as cowards and enablers.