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Readers Reply on Despair and Withdrawal, Part 2

From TPM Reader MC

I can believe that you’re describing a real phenomenon with your recent post. I feel it myself sometimes. My take is that it’s linked to the differential poll response we seem to have observed in the last week or two.

That said, it’s insanity-making, unwise, and unworthy of us.

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Readers Reply on Despair and Withdrawal

TPM Reader DM kind of took my breath away …

In contrast to the decision to withdraw from politics, my wife and I, both recently retired, launched ourselves, for the first time, into the fray. We attended the 2016 women’s march, then she ran for Alabama state house in 2018, knocking on 6000 doors in her attempt to oust an eighty-year-old white male incumbent When that failed, we sold our Alabama home, stored our belongings and moved on January 1 to Arizona for the 2020 election to help Arizona Democrats elect Mark Kelly to the Senate to put a check on this administration. This dark week just reinforces our decision to stand up against a President who is following every authoritarian’s playbook in methodical fashion.

Two TPM Reader Views on Bloomberg

First from TPM Reader EH

I will not vote for Michael Fucking Bloomberg. I’m no kind of “Bernie or Bust” zealot. The only candidate I’ve donated to in this cycle is Warren. I’ll be thrilled to support her or Bernie against Trump. I’ll be perfectly willing to pull the lever for Biden or Klobuchar. I’ll even hold my nose and try to keep my lunch down if I have to vote for Pete. Bloomberg? No fucking way.

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Despair and Withdrawal

I generally don’t like amplifying counsels of despair. As I’ve written previously, optimism is less prediction or analysis as a moral posture toward the world. But I also think it is important to understand what many Democrats, liberals, opponents of President Trump of less defined ideology are feeling. Yes, there’s plenty of anger. There’s plenty of fear. But what I have listened to and noted over his years in the White House are the voices of withdrawal. To be very specific, people who find the news so bad and toxic that they are trying to make a voluntary exit from the public sphere — withdraw into work, family, hobbies. Needless to say, many of us who live politics 24/7 could probably use a bit more focus on those. But what we’re seeing here is something different and more dangerous: the way quasi-authoritarian governments constrict the public sphere, pushing people into their private worlds and away from civic engagement.

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Reality Check

Just a quick reality check. Since that late January Gallup poll that got everyone freaked out and had a defining impact on the coverage around President Trump’s impeachment acquittal there have been numerous polls released. Some have shown the President toward the high end of the band he’s oscillated within for months or years. Most show him in exactly the same place. Three most recent readings: Morning Consult: 41%, YouGov 40%, Ipsos 41%.

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Investigation

There’s something about the Vindman story which, going unsaid, tells us a lot about our current moment, the moment Donald Trump has created. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy appeared to confirm yesterday that LTC Alexander Vindman won’t face an investigation back at the Pentagon. But for what? We know what he did, which was testify — apparently truthfully — in response to a congressional subpoena. What is there to investigate? Not only do the President’s calls for an investigation not answer this question, there’s really no conceivable predicate based on any publicly known information. But that’s the point. Investigations are now simply attacks. To the extent there is a matter to be probed it is loyalty.

Settling All The (Trump) Family's Business

We have a lot of different developments coming out of the Justice Department at once. Let’s try to put them in some ordered perspective. We have the brazen interference in the Stone trial which has already led to multiple resignations. We have the breaking news that Andrew McCabe has finally been told that he won’t face any criminal charges. And just now we have news that Bill Barr has assigned a group of outside prosecutors to “review” the prosecution and conviction of Mike Flynn.

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Did Trump Tell Barr to Cut Stone Slack? Who Cares?

Let’s come back to this brief exchange we had last night with TPM Reader HR and TPM Reader TB. No one believes this was anything more than Barr’s effort to be corrupt more effectively and with less press attention. The only question was whether it was all stage managed with Trump or whether it was actually Barr saying, “Hey, I’m trying to run the DOJ to protect you and your friends and target your enemies. Tweeting all the time just make that harder to do.”

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