All presidents do.

Black-and-white photo of Biden’s face in three-quarter view.
Black-and-white photo of Biden’s face in three-quarter view.
Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

All presidents lie. Even so, the Trump administration weaponized dishonesty to a remarkable degree.

Donald Trump did not merely lie to exaggerate his accomplishments, or smear his opponents. For Trump and the Republican Party, lies were a loyalty test. To reject Trump’s lies or exaggerations, even if they contradicted prior assertions by the now-ex-president, was to express disloyalty, the only Trump-era sin that was unforgivable by his faithful. This allowed the president to fashion for his supporters alternate realities whose tenets could not be questioned, such as his false allegations of voter fraud.

That was not the only lie of…


The business owners, real-estate brokers, and service members who rioted acted not out of economic desperation, but out of their belief in their inviolable right to rule.

A leather briefcase with a Trump sticker tucked under the flap, next to what looks like a canister of tear gas.
A leather briefcase with a Trump sticker tucked under the flap, next to what looks like a canister of tear gas.
Photoillustration: The Atlantic; source: Getty Images

They were business owners, CEOs, state legislators, police officers, active and retired service members, real-estate brokers, stay-at-home dads, and, I assume, some Proud Boys.

The mob that breached the Capitol last week at President Donald Trump’s exhortation, hoping to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, was full of what you might call “respectable people.” They left dozens of Capitol Police officers injured, screamed “Hang Mike Pence!,” threatened to murder House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and set up a gallows outside the building. …


To succeed, the president-elect will have to do more than address the pandemic and revive the American economy.

The Statue of Liberty shooting a red flare gun into the air, creating a trail of pink smoke.
The Statue of Liberty shooting a red flare gun into the air, creating a trail of pink smoke.
Image: Paul Spella/The Atlantic/Shutterstock

The 2020 campaign was long and brutal, unfolding before a backdrop of death and economic decline. When all the votes are counted, a challenger will have unseated an incumbent president for only the 10th time in American history. Donald Trump’s presidency is over.

Blinded by their contempt for Hillary Clinton, much of the 2016 electorate failed to see the danger Trump posed to popular sovereignty. Since taking office, the president has used the levers of government to enrich himself and his allies; purge those who resisted his schemes; turn the powers of law enforcement and intelligence agencies against his enemies…


Whatever happens Tuesday, Democrats have put the Lone Star State in play

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Supporters listen as Democratic vice presidential nominee, Sen. Kamala Harris speaks during a campaign event at First Saint John Cathedral on October 30, 2020 in Fort Worth, Texas. Photo: Montinique Monroe/Getty Images

By Adam Serwer

No one knows what is going to happen in Texas on Election Day.

And it’s been decades since anyone could say that.

“The raw numbers in Texas, and the year-to-year or the election-to-election increase [in voter turnout] is really, you know, fairly stunning,” James Henson, the director of the Texas Politics Project, told me. “Texas is competitive this year, and it’s much more competitive than we’ve seen for 20 years.”

Texas’s electoral votes haven’t gone to a Democratic presidential candidate since Jimmy Carter won the state in 1976. No Democrat has won a statewide election since 1994…


Without activists like Lewis and C. T. Vivian, America would remain a white republic, not a nation for all its citizens

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Image: Getty / The Atlantic

The Alabama that John Lewis was born into in 1940 was a one-party authoritarian state. Forty years before Lewis was born, the white elite of Alabama, panicked by a populist revolt of white and Black workers, shut Black men out of politics in a campaign of terror, fraud, murder, and, finally, disenfranchisement.

“We had to do it. Unfortunately, I say it was a necessity. We could not help ourselves,” Alabama Governor William C. Oates confessed. In 1901, the Montgomery Advertiser announced that with the new state constitution, “the putrid sore of negro suffrage is severed from the body of the…


America’s political dysfunction is rooted not in ideological polarization, but in the Republican Party’s conviction that it alone should be allowed to govern

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Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

By Adam Serwer

Deep into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, Republican leaders had one question for President Barack Obama, as his administration sought nearly $1 trillion in funds from Congress: How are you going to pay for this?

The unemployment rate was greater than 7 percent in January 2009, and would rise above 8 percent by February. Mitch McConnell, then the Senate minority leader, insisted, “The question is not doing nothing versus doing something,” but “the appropriateness of an almost $1 trillion spending bill to address the problem.”

Others in his caucus made similar points. “If you…


In a series of tweets attacking four Democratic congresswomen, the president reiterated his belief that only white people can truly be American

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Photo: Pete Marovich/Getty Images

When President Donald Trump declared himself a “nationalist,” he was telling the truth, but he was inadequately specific.

On Sunday morning, the president told four members of Congress to “go back” to the countries “from which they came.” The remark, a racist taunt with a historic pedigree, inspired a flurry of fact-checking from mainstream journalists who were quick to note that Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, and Ilhan Omar are American citizens, and that only Omar was born abroad, in Somalia. It was a rather remarkable exercise in missing the point.

When Trump told these women to “go back,”…


A long-overdue excavation of the book that Hitler called his “bible,” and the man who wrote it

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Photo: Maciej Toporowicz, NYC/Getty Images


Proving white-collar crimes is an exceedingly difficult task for prosecutors. Trump is doing his best to make it easier.

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Photo: Daniel Jayo/Getty Images

Donald Trump can’t stop telling on himself.

Just two years into his presidency, the New York real-estate mogul turned politician faces at least two separate criminal investigations, while half a dozen former advisers, including his former campaign chair, deputy campaign chair, national-security adviser, foreign-policy adviser, and personal attorney have all pleaded guilty to or been convicted of serious crimes. That’s even more remarkable when you consider that the American legal system makes white-collar crimes difficult to prove, by making guilt conditional on a defendant’s state of mind, a notoriously high standard.

Nevertheless, Trump has done his best to ensure that…


It should not fall to the only black Republican senator to block a man who spent his career seeking to disenfranchise minority voters from being appointed to the federal bench

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Photo: Eric Thayer/Reuters

Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina opposed the Civil Rights Act, calling it “the single most dangerous piece of legislation ever introduced in the Congress.” He opposed the Voting Rights Act. He filibustered a bill to establish a federal holiday to honor Martin Luther King Jr., accusing the civil-rights leader of “action-oriented Marxism.” He protected South Africa’s apartheid government from sanctions. He backed white rule in Rhodesia. And when he died in 2008, President George W. Bush called him an “unwavering champion of those struggling for liberty.”

It makes perfect sense that a party that celebrates a man like Helms…

AdamSerwer

Senior Editor @theatlantic.

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