Charlie, welcome to the center-left.

You may have figured this out already, but we Democrats tend to revel in our desire to internally *debate ideas*, *bicker*, and *prove we're right*. That's what so many on this side, truly, live for and breathe.

Hence the longing, bordering on delusional, for "normal" politics. "Normalcy" gives space for those liberal, um, tendencies to breathe and thrive. Many mobilized against Trump solely so we could, Back to the Future II-style, return to that normal timeline.

Telling us we CAN'T return to that, that 2020 did not in fact give us space to bicker among ourselves and prove rightness of this faction or that faction, this platform or that platform, is akin to telling many liberals (and moderates, frankly) that Santa Claus isn't real. It makes us depressed; our fur falls out. Hence the polling results lately.

But sooner or later, it will dawn on us that 'normalcy' is an ideal to strive for, not an entitlement. The question is how much later, and whether it will be too late.

That's where you (and others) come in. Keep articles like this up. Every bit helps.

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As a former Republican voter but one who will not vote for any Republicans any more, can I suggest that writers stop selling the story of the poor voter in flyover country who seems to feel that no one understands him.

Hillary was right. These are deplorable.

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I like your "Quick Hits" and "Cheap Shots" headings, but how about adding another: For Fuck's Sake. The Kansas Star of David story and the Josh Mandel tweet belong squarely in that category.

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Regarding Mandel standing with Flynn: He's Jewish and the grandson of a Holocaust survivor. In fact, one of his less well known Senate opponents has just generated a controversy with and ad that . . . ugh . . . calls Mandel out for being Jewish while trying to be the Christian values candidate.

The most significant thing about the Mandel "stand with Flynn" statement is that it shows who he is. Once upon a time, we all thought we knew in a comfortably cynical way that politicians would say or do anything to get elected. We now know that they really will do ANYTHING and that we once were actually less savvy and far more naive than we thought.

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The one thing that I know to be true is that it is unconscionable to save a god damn procedure or process in the Senate, aka, the almighty filibuster, at the expense of our democracy. I understand that voting rights SHOULD be bipartisan, as much as possible, but we are NOT dealing with a governing party. That norm sailed over a decade ago when the tea partiers were elected. This is why, I as a life-long conservative republican haven't voted for A SINGLE ONE in over a decade. This is a THREAT, like DEFCON 1 and the current administration and it's party is treating it like it is not existential. It is frustrating to a LARGE portion of our country.

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Charlie...I seldom take issue with what you have to say about most things, and when I do, it's usually of a nature that doesn't generate a compulsion to comment about it. But...

" If democracy really does face an existential crisis, perhaps the Administration and the Congress should act like it."

You are light years better than I at your skill with the printed word. And this statement is indeed correct in every way but one, imho. Allow me a brief moment to act as a junior editor, not to put words in your mouth, but to take a couple out...

Democracy really does face an existential crisis, and the Administration and the Congress should act like it.

There. All better.

Seriously, I know your position on this, and so this is not meant as an actual criticism. Rather it's my way of emphasizing what I believe to be the most serious threat our country now faces, has faced for sometime, and will continue to face for the foreseeable future. And the aforementioned institutions damn well should be acting like it, yet they are failing us miserably, because the party that controls those centers of power at the moment is failing us miserably on this front.

I've said it here and elsewhere before, and I will say it again. And again. And again at every relevant opportunity until I figure it's safe to stop being a broken record:

Voting rights and election integrity kaput = everything else that matters kaput. Period.

If this comes to pass, the noble and bold experiment in self governance that our country is will have failed, and it will not likely be repeated. At least not for generations, if ever.

Let me say something at this point about a term I've added to that equation since the last couple of opportunities I've had to toss it out there somewhere. By "election integrity" I don't mean the toxic bullshit the R's fling around when mouthing this term like a bunch of rabid parrots. When it comes to integrity, as a party they have none, and as a group it seems precious few of them have it as individuals. Wouldn't recognize it if it walked up to them and spit in their faces. Which if integrity were a corporeal entity, I would strenuously encourage it to do. ( Apologies to those reading this that still are, or consider themselves to be, Republicans. I have no desire to paint with too broad a brush, and the fact that you're reading this particular publication pretty much speaks for your integrity bona fides. Unless of course you are some MAGA world spy scouting out the enemy position. But I doubt most of that particular rank and file are that smart. And actual reading skills would be required. )

By election integrity I mean the Electoral College, and the vote counting / certification process of same, top to bottom. I'm pretty satisfied that election security is adequate, as long as the authorities responsible for it are continuously vigilant against new and emerging threats. And, of course, that they are in possession of the personal quality I just mentioned as being in such short supply in certain quarters.

The Electoral College and the processes surrounding its functioning are, by my lights, the weak link in the chain. And that link must be strengthened lest the chain snap, and the recoil takes us all down. And, again, the D's are failing us miserably in this enterprise.

I was never a single issue voter. Until 2016. But I'm damned sure one now, and will continue to be, unless and until the scratch is polished off that record so that the needle follows the grooves as intended.

But, I'm not going to tell you what the issue is that gets my motor running. I'll just let you guess.

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I guess we're going to find out how far the Republican Party can go toward full Pinochet before voters notice, or care.

And to think that Jeane Kirkpatrick was writing about *foreign* countries, back in the day.

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One move toward normalcy that I entirely don't expect to see would be a positive response to this email I sent to my Congressperson yesterday.

"Good morning Rep. Wagner, Rep. Speier has introduced a resolution of censure for Mr. Gosar's publication of an anime video in which he kills Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and attacks the President of the United States with swords. While Mr. McCarthy apparently lacks the political and moral courage to treat this as an assault in fact and an unacceptable breach of common public courtesy, there is no reason why you should stand by and allow such an act to go unpunished. Whether you agree with the political views of any of those involved or not, if the standards for public behavior no longer include respect for the person and life of other people then our country no longer has the moral stature to regards itself as a world leader. There must be a line drawn at some point and, if members of Congress of your stature don't stand up for their colleagues, the lesson of Charles Sumner and Preston Brooks may see a live repeat instead of merely one in animation. I strongly recommend that you publicly support the Speier resolution and, in doing so, call on Mr. McCarthy and the other Republican members of the House to do so as well. Healthy debate over important issues benefits us all, violence and threats of violence serve no purpose that any of us want served. God be with you in your deliberations and always."

Mrs. Wagner portrays herself as a center-right typical Missouri wife, mother, grandmother, etc. but has become an almost doctrinaire Trumpista. The idea that she would break with the crazy clique is pie in the sky but, one must maintain hope or we've already lost.

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Did I miss something, or is this Infrastructure bill the one that dozens of R Senator basically voted for long before the House did? Shouldn't the death threats be going to them, too? Perhaps some of the ones going to the House are just mis-directed. Maybe the House recipients should just forward them to their Senate colleagues and see how they like it.

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I still agree with Rep. Abigail Spanberger: "Nobody elected him to be F.D.R., they elected him to be normal and stop the chaos." I don't think the problem is that Biden's normalcy hasn't caught on because we live in abnormal times. Rather, the problem is that Biden hasn't tried normalcy. He's spent the first 9 months trying to be FDR with razor thin majorities in both houses of Congress. Independents flocked to Biden because they saw him as someone who is competent and would end the Trump initiated chaos. Biden hasn't displayed competence and the chaos has continued. The Afghanistan withdrawal was completely botched. Tying the infrastructure bill to the social spending bill was a huge mistake. Ignoring inflation has been a mistake. A lot of amateurish mistakes by the Biden administration.

The good news is that there is time to right the ship. Biden needs to begin by kicking the progressive caucus to the curb.. They almost single handily sunk Biden's poll numbers by holding the infrastructure bill hostage. The Biden folks think that the Presidents numbers will start to rebound with the promotion of the infrastructure bill. That won't work because the internal Democratic fight over its passage has tarnished what should be viewed as a monumental achievement.

Heard former Democratic North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp on one of the weekend shows. She was talking about how to better message the Biden agenda. Brilliant. Biden needs to fire some of those young staffers doing the messaging and policy and hire experienced pros like Heitkamp who understand what people who live in fly over country want.

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All the craziness and the Republicans broaden lead to retake government. You laid out all the quacks leading the way and it underscores again the people are the problem. Joe can try and try and try to do his best but in the end the disgraceful people who vote the idiots in deserve what they are gonna get. JVL articulates it daily - a dumbed down decadent society is probably not the best way forward but it is what we have and actions have consequences for all.

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How might we be expected to go "back to normal" now?

Honestly, it seems like we had a good chance of it going into summer. Decent vaccination rates were enough to almost eliminate COVID within our borders, but then of course Delta spread and now it looks like we need at least 80% of the entire population vaccinated to suppress it.

Biden ran on a return to normalcy, and who can blame him, since the message "we opened Pandora's box and there's no closing it" is not exactly incentive to vote for anybody. But almost a year into the presidency it's probably the truth.

The painful truth is that Biden only has so many powers as President, and the rest of the society will have to do some heavy-lifting on "normal." It's ultimately up to all of us how much we tolerate anti-vaxxers, the Q crowd, domestic terrorism, etc.

Are we all up to the task?

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The Yellow Star business is just so outrageous. For one, you voluntarily put that star on yourself, so from the jump, the analogy falls to pieces. It's so disrespectful, and the rubes doing it, probably even the ones in Congress, have no idea how idiotic it is. And the Republicans who know exactly how idiotic it is have no desire to put corrective condemnations on the public record.

JVL is spot on when he says Democrats police their own while Republicans police dissent. If any Democratic official or voter opposed to vaccine mandates were so brazen and stupid enough to liken themselves to people who were rounded up, worked to death, gassed to death, experimented on, tortured, all because of their ethnicity, the condemnation would be swift, severe, and universal. And make no mistake, there are people who vote for Democrats who aren't ok with mandating vaccination, eg, the whole Robert F Kennedy, Jr crowd. But while most people don't share their views, they at least have enough sense not to liken themselves to victims of the Holocaust. But on the other side, this pure madness gets either swept under the rug, or proactively encouraged.

Republicans are so terrified of their voters. The 13 in the House who voted for infrastructure, they're getting death threats from the same jackasses who have been filling up the inboxes of Democrats with death threats for years. They need security, not to protect them from angry Democrats, but from angry, unhinged, well-armed, psychotic Republicans. This is what Republican officials and the rightwing media have stoked for three decades and the chickens are coming home to roost. And with the likes of Trump. Flynn, Mandel, Bannon, Hawley, and so many more, there isn't a hint of course correction in sight, because even if they wanted to, they're terrified of their own voters, the party paradoxically of Brown Shirts and people pinning Yellow Stars on their shirts. They've got the Nazis and the Polish Jews. Such a big tent.

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"Too nutty for Newsmax." I think we've identified a shoo-in for a position in the next Trump administration.

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The first part of your newsletter should be mandatory reading for every Democrat, Independent, and “normal” Republican. We need to all band together to recognize and extinguish the threat the Republican Party has become. How can political violence and chaos be something any responsible citizen thinks is a good thing for America? Why aren’t the corporations and small businesses raising a hue and cry, as the dysfunction the Republicans want undermines what they need to succeed? It is shocking and depressing but The Bulwark, RVAT, Republican Accountability Project and leaders like Liz Cheney still give me hope. Thank you for trying to save our democracy!

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I’ve not felt anything was “normal” for 5 or more years—and yet anti- intellectualism has been brewing longer than that.

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