Trump’s antics show contempt for his own voters

Early Returns

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I'm hardly the first to say this, but one thing remains clear about Donald Trump as a politician: No one has more contempt for his supporters than the president himself and those around him.

Trump is currently taking his allies through a crash course in disdain for democracy. He's inventing, repeating or embellishing entirely false accusations about fraud. He's asking the courts to toss out hundreds of thousands of legal votes for basically no reason. He's demanding that the election results be overturned altogether by Republican officials — judges in some cases, election administrators in others, or even state legislators in an extreme scenario. It could hardly be more unconstitutional and undemocratic. Oh, and it's entirely impractical: Trump's legal and political strategies have no realistic chance of working.

I suppose it's possible that Trump believes some of his own noise. He may sincerely think that nothing is ever on the up-and-up, and only suckers believe in democracy. There's a certain kind of wise-guy naivete that he seems to buy into. On the other hand, while he may at some level think that he's always being ripped off, he almost certainly knows that the claims he's broadcasting to his supporters about the election simply aren't true.

Either way, it's clear that most of the Republicans who are going along with Trump know full well that he's lost. Plenty of White House aides are sending out their resumes. Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told allies in Congress to ask now if there's anything they want before President-elect Joe Biden takes office. Republican senators were seen congratulating Vice President-elect Kamala Harris when she stopped back in to cast a vote on Tuesday. That vote was only held in the first place to prevent Biden from filling a key vacancy. Republicans campaigning in the Georgia Senate runoffs keep tripping over themselves as they try to elide the awkward fact that they're going to need 51 seats for a majority next year and not 50 — because they know that Harris, and not outgoing Vice President Mike Pence, will be the tie-breaking vote come Jan. 20.

And yet many of these same politicians are going along with Trump's fantasies, repeating falsehood after falsehood, all intended to destroy confidence in elections that they know very well were honest. Trump and his allies are treating their own supporters as if they were the easiest marks in the world, willing to fall for whatever wild claims the president can come up with to keep their resentment boiling and their donations flowing. And while it's true that some Democratic politicians have said nasty things over the years about rank-and-file Trump voters, none of them has ever reached that level of contempt.

1. Matt Grossmann talks with Frances Lee and Jennifer Wolak about compromise in Congress. Must-read (or listen). 

2. Dan Drezner on Emily Murphy and blocking the transition. Yup: There's just no good reason for her lack of action at this point.

3. Danielle Lupton and Max Z. Margulies at the Monkey Cage on the active-duty military vote.

4. Sean Trende on the Georgia Senate runoffs.

5. Perry Bacon Jr. looks at Georgia's new partisan balance.

6. Nathaniel Rakich and Elena Mejia on the next round of redistricting. Partisan gerrymandering is overrated, but it's not nothing.

7. And my Bloomberg Opinion colleague Noah Smith on student debt. I can't speak to his economic points, which are interesting, but on the political side of things I disagree. Student-loan forgiveness would be exactly the kind of specific, highly visible benefit that usually wins points for politicians from the beneficiaries, while the harm (if any) to those who don't benefit would be invisible. Sure, Republicans could rile people up over it anyway, but that's true about virtually any decision Biden could make, and there's no reason to think this one would be particularly damaging.

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