It should not take the largest voter turnout in U.S. history to guarantee that a president rejected by the majority of the American people actually stops being president

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Image: Raedle / Getty / The Atlantic

Americans woke up today to an even more destabilized reality, one shadowed by dangerous uncertainties.

The United States has lived through the largest democratic event in its history. At least 70 million votes have been cast for Joe Biden. As always, however, it remains uncertain whether the U.S. electoral system will ratify, or subvert, the people’s vote. As of midday today, Biden seemed to be moving count-by-count toward the presidency. If he reaches it, he will in all likelihood confront a blocked and paralyzed Senate under Republican leadership. …


America survived one Trump term. It wouldn’t survive a second.

A road that leads off a cliff. A stop sign is right at the edge of the cliff, and the sky is gray and cloudy.
A road that leads off a cliff. A stop sign is right at the edge of the cliff, and the sky is gray and cloudy.
Photo rendering: Patrick White

The most important ballot question in 2020 is not Joe Biden versus Donald Trump, or Democrat versus Republican. The most important question is: Will Trump get away with his corruption — will his crooked and authoritarian tactics succeed?

If the answer is yes, be ready for more. Much more.

Americans have lavished enormous powers on the presidency. They have also sought to bind those powers by law. Yet the Founders of the republic understood that law alone could never eliminate the risks inherent in the power of the presidency. They worried ceaselessly about the prospect of a truly bad man in the office — a Caesar or a Cromwell, as Alexander Hamilton fretted in “Federalist №21.” They built restraints: a complicated system for choosing the president, a Congress to constrain him, impeachment to remove him. Their solutions worked for two and a half centuries. …


Trump’s emergency declaration is going to run into four hurdles

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Photo: Mandel Ngan/Getty Images

President Donald Trump’s declaration of emergency salved yesterday’s loss of face — but has not solved any real problems for this administration or the country. In fact, Trump has opened four new problems atop the original problem with which he has flailed.

The original problem is that a border wall was Trump’s signature promise, backed by his guarantee — “Believe me!” — that Mexico would pay for it. Trump has successfully induced his supporters to shrug off the abandonment of his promise that “Mexico will pay for the wall,” which is an impressive hustle already. He might well have induced them to forget the wall, or to accept that a light upgrade of the existing 700 miles of fencing counted as “the wall.” …


Kristallnacht, on its 80th anniversary, still offers a potent lesson: We all face the choice between right and wrong, responsibility and recklessness, conscience and complicity.

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Photo: Bettmann / Corbis / Getty Images

At an evening news conference on November 9, 1989, a spokesman for the East German Communist government made a history-altering mistake.

The spokesman had been authorized to say that travel restrictions on East German citizens would be lifted the next day, November 10. Instead, he said that the restrictions were lifted effective immediately.

Within minutes, hundreds of thousands of East Berliners rushed to the checkpoints of the Berlin Wall. Since the erection of the wall in 1961, border guards had killed more than 750 people seeking to escape East Germany. That night, the border guards had heard the same news as everyone else. Their license to kill had been withdrawn. They stood aside. …


Classical liberal values have disappeared from the right and are now disappearing from the left. Someone needs to adopt them. Why not the GOP?

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Illustration: Edmon De Haro

The word liberal was one of the many casualties of the Vietnam era.

A generation before, Americans competed to own the term. Anti–New Deal Republicans like Senator Robert Taft claimed that they, not their opponents, were the “true liberals.” Former President Herbert Hoover preferred the term historical liberal.

The social turmoil of the 1960s and ’70s ripped away liberal’s positive associations and, in so doing, helped redeem conservatism from the discredit it incurred during the Great Depression. …


A cowardly coup from within the administration threatens to enflame the president’s paranoia and further endanger American security

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Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Impeachment is a constitutional mechanism. The Twenty-Fifth Amendment is a constitutional mechanism. Mass resignations followed by voluntary testimony to congressional committees are a constitutional mechanism. Overt defiance of presidential authority by the president’s own appointees — now that’s a constitutional crisis.

If the president’s closest advisers believe that he is morally and intellectually unfit for his high office, they have a duty to do their utmost to remove him from it, by the lawful means at hand. That duty may be risky to their careers in government or afterward. …


In a new book, Timothy Snyder explains how Russia revolutionized information warfare — and presages its consequences for democracies in Europe and the United States

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Photo: Mikhail Metzel\TASS via Getty Images

When Westerners first began to hear of Vladimir Putin’s troll army — now some five years ago — the project sounded absurd. President Obama in March 2014 had dismissed Russia as merely a weak “regional power.” And Putin’s plan to strike back was to hire himself a bunch of internet commenters? Seriously?

In a recent talk in Washington, the historian Timothy Snyder observed that Russia’s annual budget for cyberwarfare is less than the price of a single American F-35 jet. Snyder challenged his audience to consider: Which weapon has done more to shape world events?

Snyder is an unusual historian-activist, both a great scholar of the terrible costof 20th-century totalitarianism and also a passionate champion of endangered democracy in Ukraine and Eastern Europe — and now, the United States. Increasingly, he sees his concerns fusing into one great narrative, as methods of manipulation and deception pioneered inside Russia are deployed against Russia’s chosen targets. …


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Photo: Reuters

As reflexive support for the president redefines their movement, most conservative commentators have caved to pressure, following along.

On Monday morning the conservative media world woke up to a savagely personal attack in National Review upon the Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin. The outburst might seem a textbook case of the narcissism of petty differences within the conservative world. Both the author of the denunciation, Charles C.W. Cooke, and its target, Jennifer Rubin, are right-leaning Trump skeptics. What on earth could they be arguing about? And does it matter?

I think it does — a lot.

Cooke criticizes Rubin — a friend of mine, but one with whom I’ve from time to time tussled — for taking her opposition to Trump too far. “If Trump likes something, Rubin doesn’t. If he does something, she opposes it. If his agenda flits into alignment with hers — as anyone’s is wont to do from time to time — she either ignores it, or finds a way to downplay it. …


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Aaron P. Bernstein / Reuters

There’s a manifest need to lower corporate tax rates — but instead of building consensus, the GOP is pursuing a bill that’s likely to be rolled back even if it passes.

About

David Frum

Senior Editor, The Atlantic. Author, “Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic” (Jan. 2018)

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