Think about what the GOP will do when it has effectively insulated itself from competition—and thus accountability.
When Republicans have retaken both houses of Congress and have installed either Donald Trump or his anointed successor in the White House in January 2025, what will they do next?
A pedestrian column addressing that question might promise merely to be another in the long line of political prognostications about one party or the other’s future plans, if that party should be so fortunate as to win elections and take power legitimately. What would Democrats or Republicans do about environmental policy? Banking reform? Taxes? Foreign terrorism? Domestic terrorism? That such opinion columns are so familiar does not make them uninteresting. If well written and insightful, such offerings by political commentators can be useful both for voters and other commentators.
This, however, is not that kind of opinion column. As I wrote on Verdict this past Monday, the United States is now a “Dead Democracy Walking.” Between gerrymandering, extreme voter suppression laws, and especially their corruption of once-neutral election counting and certification processes, Republicans will retake Congress in full by 2024; and even if their presidential candidate were to lose that year’s election, they will have the January 6 congressional certification vote as a backstop to allow them to steal the White House.
The necessary pieces of that dystopian process are already in place. Note that, in the first sentence of this column, I did not say “if” but “when,” and I said “installed” rather than “succeeded in getting their presidential candidate elected.” And Republicans are not stopping there, as their strong-arming of an extreme voter suppression bill in Texas this week shows.
As I wrote in “Dead Democracy Walking,” the job of policy and political commentators must now change to reflect the new reality of Republicans’ full corruption of our political process. Once back in power, Republicans at both the federal and state levels will continue to change the political system to guarantee the continuation of what will be nothing less than a one-party autocracy. Democrats will continue to exist, and elections will still be held, but the system will have been hollowed out, and the trappings of democracy will be for show and nothing more.
That means that it no longer makes sense to, say, compare Democrats’ versus Republicans’ positions on immigration. Only one party will be in power, so we need to think about what that one party will do when it has effectively insulated itself from competition—and thus accountability.