In The New York Times, Shane Goldmacher writes about Joe Biden's belief that Donald Trump is an aberration in our recent political history. The story is fine up to a point — but it suggests that even the alternative view to Biden's puts most of the blame on Trump:
“Limit it to four years,” Mr. Biden pleaded with a ballroom crowd of 600 in the eastern Iowa city of Dubuque. “History will treat this administration’s time as an aberration.”
...Mr. Biden’s singular focus on the president as the source of the nation’s ills, while extending an olive branch to Republicans, has exposed a significant fault line in the Democratic primary.
Democrats, like Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, see the president as a symptom of something deeper, both in a Republican Party overtaken by Trumpism and a nation cleaved by partisanship. Simply ousting Mr. Trump, they tell voters, is not enough.
No, that's not what Warren and Sanders believe. They may oppose "Trumpism," but it's not all they oppose. They've been fighting conservative ideas — some within the Democratic Party as well — since long before Trump entered politics. Many of those ideas haven't changed under Trump. He's simply adopted them.
But Goldmacher is fixated on Trump:
Since winning the Republican nomination almost three years ago, Mr. Trump has tightened his grip on the party, installing loyalists in key positions and commanding fealty from Republican candidates as some of his loudest Republican critics retired rather than face electoral defeat.
Yes, that's a problem, but it's not the only problem. It's true that Republicans won't criticize the new degradations of our political culture introduced by Trump — authoritarian threats to political enemies and the press, emoluments and self-dealing, coziness with a country that attacked our electoral system. But the Trump administration is no more pro-fat cat or anti-abortion than the Jeb Bush or Scott Walker administration would have been. The judges are the same ones Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz would have appointed. Trump might be a more proudly ignorant climate change denier than any of the Republican rivals he beat, but they would have pushed the same climate policies.
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Most important, many Republicans in Congress have voted almost in lock step with the president, even as he has cast aside longstanding party orthodoxies, such as free trade....
Elite journalists are fixated on Trump's trade policy, as if his break with party orthodoxy in this one area renders his slavish devotion to GOP boilerplate in nearly all other policy areas irrelevant.
It's not just Goldmacher:
“I feel like the party went through this and the 2016 election showed that Trumpism isn’t just Donald Trump — it’s the entire Republican Congress, too,” said Rebecca Katz, a progressive Democratic strategist unaligned in the 2020 contest. “Until there is someone in the Republican Party who can stand up to Trump, then none of them are better than Trump.”
None of them were much better than Trump even before the 2016 election. None of them will be much better than Trump even if Trump is defeated, except in the unlikely even that Trump loses half a dozen red states and Democrats take the Senate as well as the House — and maybe not even then.
Biden divides the world into the Trump era and the relative golden age that supposedly existed before Trump. That's crazy — but so do a lot of members of the mainstream media and the political community. It's an illusion that needs to be abandoned.
Republished with permission from No More Mr. Nice Blog