The Senate’s Dangerous Inability to Protect Democracy

The struggles of Angus King reflect the rise of Trumpism over centrism.

Senate, Centrism

1/20/2022 6:55:00 AM

In 1890, the House of Representatives passed a voting-rights act that died in a filibuster in the Senate . “The result was 75 years of egregious voter suppression in the South,” Senator Angus King said. “I honestly feel that we may be at a similar moment.”

The struggles of Angus King reflect the rise of Trumpism over centrism.

, of Arizona, to support changing the filibuster rules to allow the passage of the voting-rights bills. King told me in an interview, however, “Unless they have some kind of an epiphany, I don’t see them changing.”King views the current crisis as existential for the country: both Republican and Democratic voters increasingly fear that the other side is stealing elections. “I have never been so worried about the future of the country,” King told me. “I lived through the

Cuban missile crisisand Vietnam and the recession of 2008. What worries me is that the structure of our system is at risk.” Informal talks between centrist Republicans and Democrats continue, but the Senate’s inability to agree on how to protect democracy is the latest sign that the Trumpian tactic of energizing, turning out, and, in some cases, misleading one’s political base is more effective than centrism at winning elections.

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are you seriously running a headline both-sides-ing the stealing of elections? Headline fail. The GOP are *claiming* election fraud in order to muddy the waters and gaslight the electorate into ignoring their own election fraud. Both? Nope. Just the GOP is trying to do that. Blame the mainstream media. They spent years telling people Trump stole the 2016 presidential election with fucking Facebook memes. Now they’re telling everybody that republicans are passing laws that’ll make it impossible for anybody but whites to vote.

Both sides? Seriously? This is irresponsible journalism. Do better. You have reason to worry! Patiently awaiting anyone anywhere to answer the question, 'where's the evidence?' Until you can bring receipts, you're just blowing smoke. Both? The elephant in the room is that the Senate is not a Democratic institution. The majority of the nation has no voice in our nation, and it's eroding everything else. Of course Republicans dance around that basic truth. We have to give voters in every state an equal voice.

Republicans fear because they have been lied to & now believe the lies presidunceFUBAR, Democrats fear because of the dirty politics of Mitch McConnell & that the GQP is changing election laws & infrastructure at the state level to “actually” steal an election. One group is dead wrong and they know it.

Big voting bill faces defeat as 2 Dems won’t stop filibusterWASHINGTON (AP) — Voting legislation that Democrats and civil rights leaders say is vital for protecting democracy appeared headed for defeat as the Senate churned into debate Tuesday, a deva… Funny we just had a presidential election with the most votes in history! 🤔 Doesn't seem to be a problem with anybody getting out to vote. It is not okay but make them put it on the record with the other R accomplices Maybe Dems need to do their job and convince people if they do not have enough votes to end the filibuster instead of complaining about it. Also, if they are not doing in person they should -- that is what made it so interesting years ago. They need to do their job.

I speak for Democracy I wrote in seventh grade. Maybe the Republicans and Democrats should be doing the same. And then print their answer so we call all read it. No remarks against the others party, however. Just speak of Democracy.l Sure, one side is trying to expand the franchise for all citizens and the other is actively trying to suppress it, these are exactly the same.

They don’t want to work for their voter and don’t want to get voter’s to vote for them - they just want to blame the other side for everything that is wrong people are paying for this top-notch analysis? When Democrats steal the elections, its because more people who could vote got to vote. When Republicans steal the elections, it's because they made sure fewer people who could vote got to vote.

Perhaps because the Senate is not a democratic body? Here's a thought put someone NORMAL and not past retirement age in!!! With the ability to balance economic growth for everyone tied to a budget without totally screwing the planet we have to live on. People are sick left right and center of the of supposed 'leadership'!!!

I'm so tired of this both sides bull shit from the media. Democrats did not try to over turn an legal election by invading the capitol and called for fake electors to validate their crap. 'Both Jews and Nazis increasingly fear that the other side wants to destroy them' -New Yorker, 1939. Both sides! Its the one thing the press loves more than GOP oppo research.

Voting bill blocked by GOP filibuster, Democrats try rules changeVoting legislation that Democrats and civil rights groups argue is vital for protecting democracy has been blocked by a Republican filibuster. whatsMitchfor Yeah well history is going to change . Marty Mcfly Sen_JoeManchin EndTheFilibusterNow Sen_JoeManchin JoeManchinIsADisgrace

WTF? Both Republican and Democratic voters increasingly fear that the other side is stealing elections, but only Republicans have actually attempted to steal elections. FTFY But the GOP voters are delusional and the Dem voters are correct. There’s a friggin distinction. Excellent 'both sides' lede. Democrats fear election theft based on Trump domestic terrorists attacking the Capitol, voter suppression,GOP donors funding disinformation to start WW3, prolong pandemics, & attack election workers. Republicans fear running shoes on green M & M's.

Ah yes...both sides. Very responsible journalism. Why must you parse this as if both sides are equivalent? Only one side has and still is actively attempting to steal elections. What is the President’s plan for defending the Constitution and Americans against disinformation? How do we eliminate one of the two ‘realities’ in the country today?

The difference being the Republicans actually tried to steal an election with a violent insurrection. theory china released a virus that eventually make us angry and brutal to each other 'Both sides' is embarrassing. Do better.

Voting bill blocked by GOP filibuster, Democrats try rules changeVoting legislation that Democrats and civil rights groups argued is vital for protecting democracy was blocked Wednesday by a Republican filibuster. Fascist filibuster* MikeLohr7 GOPTraitorsToDemocracy RepubliQanTraitorsToAmerica

You are seriously both-sidesing this? One side is projecting its crimes on the other. State it plainly. DougJBalloon Whether it's Republicans trying to overturn the results of fairly-conducted elections, or Democrats pointing out that Republicans want to overturn legitimate elections, both sides are undermining Democracy

🤦‍♀️No. Headline should read 'Republicans tried to steal an election. Democrats are afraid they'll do it again.' DougJBalloon Umm no. One side KNOWS the other is stealing elections. DougJBalloon No longer the election is the matter. The strongest office taking and keeping the words are the matter. DougJBalloon Dems are concerned GOP is lying and scheming…

Republicans *pretend* to fear Democrats are stealing elections. The fact that they've managed to work themselves up into a rabid froth about it doesn't mean they actually believe it. 'Both pitbulls and mail carriers increasingly fear a violent confrontation' 'Both 10 year olds and convicted pedophiles increasingly fear that the other side will try to have sex with them'

Senate Republican filibuster blocks Democrats' voting rights billVoting legislation that Democrats and civil rights groups argue is vital for protecting democracy has been blocked by a Republican filibuster. Where does one find this voter suppression when there was a record voter turn out? Asking for a friend

DougJBalloon Whether it’s Republicans using a violent mob in an attempt to install their preferred candidate, or Democrats failing to set Angus King up with the best seats at Nats games, both sides have contributed to Angus King’s unhappiness, according to leading Angus King expert Angus King God this is dumb

Here's why that's bad news for this Ohio diner Automatically audit every election fix that right up all anxious fears assuaged. DougJBalloon Yes, this is def a BOTH SIDES problem, Republicans are suppressing the vote, while Democrats are existing DougJBalloon BOTH SIDES!!!!!! 🙄 It’s gutless bothsides articles like this that are aiding and abetting the GOP assault on democracy. At this point you are just collaborators with the far right

You are really bothsidesing voter suppression. Unbelievable. DoBetter Both.... Gimme a F-ing break. DougJBalloon Republicans while bashing in the heads of cops at the US Capitol and planning to murder elected officials inside: 'We increasingly fear that Democrats are trying to steal elections.'

Senate Republican filibuster blocks Democrats' voting rights billVoting legislation that Democrats and civil rights groups argue is vital for protecting democracy has been blocked by a Republican filibuster.

DougJBalloon So both sides? GTFO GOPers assert The Big Lie, which was debunked in 60 diff legal proceedings and has no support based in, you know, FACTS. Dems point to actual laws passed by actual state legislatures that would allow GOP officials and legislators to meddle in elec results DougJBalloon I think Angus King pretty convincingly thinks the blame sits fairly squarely with Republicans, you guys. And he’s like…you know…right.

DougJBalloon One side has evidence, and the other side has “concerns.” They are not equivalent. DougJBalloon The Republicans still have the fucking receipts! Are you kidding me with this shit!? Thanks to the corporate Media constantly creating false equivalencies we are here. Democratic voters: Mad about a bevy of laws introduced specifically meant to limit turnout state-by state Republican voters: Mad about some lizard shit a pillow salesman told them

DougJBalloon You must be fucking kidding me is this a fucking joke to you? DougJBalloon One side has reason to believe that since the Republicans tried to actually steal an election in multiple ways, and one doesn’t. BoTh SiDeS

Senate Dems Propose Talking Filibuster for Voting Rights'If Senate Democrats can find the political courage this moment requires, they have the tools right now to pass voting rights legislation and save our democracy,' says Stand Up America's executive director.

STOP WITH THE FALSE EQUIVALENCE Get your shit together. Seriously. Hey New Yorker, you know that even if you help the fascists take control, they aren’t going to spare you, right? The guy in this pic looks like Kristin Wiig in makeup as an old man This misrepresents the article's content to the point of deception. Even the person quoted as saying 'both sides' isn't using it how this tweet does (he explicitly mentions 1/6). Why is the New Yorker's twitter posting dishonest content summaries that enable right wing lies?

Remember when you guys did news instead of marketing for the next Civil War? You left out the rest of Sen King’s quote: “...and I’m not willing to do a god**** thing about it.” This is beyond irresponsible! Don't both sides things when the republicans were try to steal an election. JFC. I would say do better......but I have to say DO THE JOB RIGHT!! You didn't do the job the first time at all!!

God-awful both-sidesing . Only one side has actual fact-based reasons for fearing the other side is trying to steal elections - because Republicans did. American political journalism is hopelessly broken.

Neoliberals and Centrists have chosen Fascism, they just won’t admit it, because they can’t handle the moral weight. Awful headline ! How could you both sides this ?! There is a massive threat to our democracy, coming from only one side , and you should be presenting the dangers and the issue honestly !!

Fix the tweet Good Lord. What an irresponsible both sides are equivalent framing. I am a longtime subscriber. Do better! Sadly Orangeman created this. Now confidence in our elections has been lost. We all need to pay attention. 'The Republican party is publicly trying to steal elections. The Democratic party and independent Senators are trying to stop them.' Stop perpetuating outrageous disinformation about 'both sides' in your headlines.

Just lazy journalism What bothsidesism bullshit is this? But only the Republicans are actually trying to steal elections. You're complicit with this both sides bullshit.

Right but democrats want everyone to vote whereas republicans consider it theft if 'those people' vote Meanwhile I'm assembling a top international team of specialists to steal the election from all of them. All I need is a getaway driver. For GOP voters, that fear is projection. Excuse me, but wtf. What’s with the “both sides” here? Republicans are actively working to steal future elections, and we have mountains of evidence that they tried and almost succeeded to steal the last one.

Except Republicans are guilty of it and they signed the evidence. really getting a big scoop here with the both sides. try interviewing some trump voters in a diner for the real on-the-ground reporting! We were warned Remind us who is being subpoenaed by the January 6th Committee again? Both sides!

the hell you say... Centrism ushered in the tea party Trumpites! The thing is that only one side is actually working hard at it. But the media seems to think is all your normal election cycle change of rules? A both sides equation? Democracy depends on real and forceful accountability. Stop w the gimmick headlines, defend democracy and truth.

“I’m afraid we’re making a mistake that will harm the country for decades.” King's R good friends should have taken responsibility for their collective actions & support of twice impeached racist traitor, instead they continue where he left off show me your friends... Prestige journalism won't save us

But only one side is actually stealing elections. The other (R) side is gaslighting. You really playing it as a both-sides argument? Come on. Have a look at states with majority GOP. All they do is gerrymander districts, strip powers from any Dem governor and are currently pushing for elections and education to be white.

FFS. Why the “both sides” framing? One side tried multiple coup attempts in the last presidential election, and the other is trying to pass legitimate election reform. There’s only one reality . This kind of “who’s yo know?” framing is insidious

Democrats always name a bill something that has nothing to do with the actual bill. 'Voting Rights Bill'. Yeah right. It was an overreach to take over the election process in order to stay in power indefinitely. I'm so glad that Republicans stopped that bill. They are debating voting rights?. Are they finally admitting Joe Biden's and Obamas 2 terms where full of illegal votes?. And did Russia help Joe in the election?

TheRealKMcKidd BC senate represents land and not people He's hit the nail on the head. I know we're going to have a very hard time for the next few years, at least until we can get a democratic majority in congress with backbone! No kidding! And the seditionist republicans can't wait for Nov to get here so they can count the votes they want and disqualify the rest, then seal them up and deny any and all recounts or audits. Remember, you heard it here first!

People are going to fight this. People of every color, because it affects them too and it’s wrong. That is the difference this time. SethAbramson Senator King- Does your Senate partner from Maine ( Ms Collins) seem at all troubled at all your scenario? Or, is just too she busy with colorful late winter seed catalogs again?

You had record voter turnout for the 2020 election. More people than ever voted in that election, yet some way some how, there are people who's votes were suppressed. There is no voter suppression, it's the left's way of trying to change the rules to never lose another election. Fantastic news! Stop the Democrats from destroying our country!🇺🇸🦅🎶

No one is denied the right to vote based on race. Dems just want to harvest votes from the lazy and uninformed legal voter, as well as illegals.

VotingRightsMatter WeWantVotingRights WeWantVotingRightsNow NoMoreVoterSuppression SethAbramson 😢😢😢😢 “The party system is splitting over how democracy should work, and that is terrifying.” ns,” King said. “They are now setting about making changes on the state level which will undermine the confidence of Democrats and independents in the electoral process.”

people of color and young voters.“Trump has undermined confidence among Republicans in the fundamental democratic process of elections,”King said. people of color and young voters. “Trump has undermined confidence among Republicans in the fundamental democratic process of electio He said that Trump’s stoking of long-running Republican suspicions of systemic Democratic voter fraud—allegations that have no basis in fact—has been used in nineteen states in the past year to implement voting restrictions that will impede Democratic turnout, particularly among

EllenBarkin …sadly, not may. We frightfully are! Different century, same outcome. EllenBarkin RepLizCheney why did you vote against this? How do you sleep at night? On top of all your money? EllenBarkin MittRomney why?Why did you vote against this? You should be ashamed.

Yall dont forget who brought us here: SenatorSinema Sen_JoeManchin As if Gerrymandering didn't occur anywhere but in the South. By the way, that 75 years of 'egregious voter suppression' was done by DEMOCRATES. The Feds can't run a railroad, post office, or healthcare. I don't want them in charge of all voting rules nationwide.

It's the Only Way to Keep Relevant, they Know their Party GOP is Circling the Drain. The Desperation is Obvious and Blatant. VoteBlueToSaveDemocracy ☮️🧡🇺🇸💪👊🤬 More nonsense from the liberal media. The liberal is truly the enemy of the American people. While Biden's poll numbers are in the abyss, 33% in a Quinnipiac poll, the liberal media should look at the own poll numbers.. Biden's are wonderful compared to their's.

How much longer are we going to ALLOW 'The Good old boys club' to run our country? ITS TIME NOW TO MAKE A CHANGE ONE THAT WILL LAST A LIFETIME AND BEYOND!!!!!!! President Biden has asked what the GOP is for.. And now we know. They are for doing away with our democracy! If Americans want to keep it- vote blue in 2022!

Great article but a little disappointing that we're still using normalizing terms like 'firebrand' to describe dangerous racists TucsonBlonde We are there. If people vote, the GOP dies. Voting is a mortal threat to that Party. So…VOTE. VOTE. VOTE. angela_rye White supremacy first&foremost steals the time of POC. 75 years is more life than many POC get yet this wait is considered a reasonable burden/ask of us. White ppl’s 6 mins spent is our hour spent. We are going to fight this calling it what it is: a theft of our time.

Pretty obvious that most of the people who blocked this know making voting more accessible means they lose elections, which shows where the majority stands in this nation.

The Senate, by its very nature, is undemocratic. Too much power is being given to large tracts of empty land. Reason 1. Bill should have Mandatory ID to Vote, ID to drive, Get Prescription Drugs, Go to a Dr Appointment, Get on an Airplane,Get into any Federal or State Courthouse, Pick up a package at a USPS. Reason 2. Bill should state NO Ballot Drop Boxes, All should be USPS Metered.

🤣🤣🤣🤣 Oh pALease! Every legal voter is able to cast a vote. That protection has been in place since 1965! You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it. - The Talmud It is a call to action and a rejection of apathy, even when the task at hand seems overwhelming.

angela_rye Last night proved to me and the world that the US is not a democracy we are no better than a third world country don’t believe me look at how Americans treat their citizens. It just as apartheid as South Africa was but we can change it and we will and it won’t take 70 years. Fortunately, all legal citizens already have the right to vote. The next election is Nov 8th. Need to get an ID (easy), register to vote (easy), and figure out how you will get to a voting booth (likely nearby). If you can't do this in 11 months, you are too stupid to vote anyway

Is there anything that can be done by executive order ? SenAngusKing it isnt over

SenAngusKing what voting rights don’t you have today? I’m listening. How about you JoyAnnReid retweet Democracy lives ,,!!, No ID , no vote Dumb statement. Different age. Can’t compare. Pretty sure last year the most people voted in the history of the nation…tell me how you can even compare this to then…. Just more fake scare tactics

It’s easier to vote in GA than in NY, but leftists continue to argue that the South is the problem while northern cities are cesspools of crime, corruption and machine politics. bravo! the really shameful part is the 48 dem senators who voted to throw a tantrum. NO ONE in this country eligible to vote is prohibited from doing so

surlybassey The “good ol’ reliable filibuster” still used as ever — to keep the people down. Thoss who voted against every Democrat in congress sounds classified with hoarding honestly feel something go home stay safe do not get up a fight is on the way from all the way outside the collective information like when do people vote for people to vote on what people want sounds like an opportunity for serious art attacks

Terrible take on an act that would Federalize elections and create one party power. Not 'may' Senator King, we are there. VoterSuppression is Real. Republican Senators inability….fixed it. He feels so strong about the Demonrats stopping that bill back then that he joined the Demonrat party lol we are absolutely reliving the 1890’s-1929 era over again. The original American Dream was perverted to more of a supply side dream and we never corrected. This is insanity that 2 undercover R’s infiltrated the Dems to sabotage democracy…my question was for whom? and how much?

Absolute horse puckey. No one's voting rights are being suppressed. The so called 'voting rights' legislation is all about Democrats gaining and maintaining complete control of the government. That is all it is. Democrats and the media playing mind games with the public. There's no voter suppression taking place.

And the radical illegitimate SCOTUS that helped destroy it. SimonJester007 There is one person responsible for taking us back almost 2 centuries, and Republicans - who knew & went on record stating how horribly rotten he is as a human being - embraced & enabled him. Why? VoteBlue2022

It's Republicans trying to stop minorities from voting. If that's not their objective, then why not just vote with the Dems for voting rights for all? The US won't be around for another 75 years if the white people want to play dirty racist games. We'll make sure it collapses under the weight of its own crapulence.

*We’re not at a similar moment. Manchin & Sinema go for the money, just like their twumpist colleagues JoyAnnReid It’s not similar. It’s made up by the left to try and instill fear. Why? To give the left more power. It has nothing to do with voting. Such crap Are you nuts? This is nothing like 1890, whites are going to be a minority soon, then all hell to pay for their whiteass control. This is unchartered territory.

MotherRiverZen Message of the Day: The antebellum Senate needs to vote on the John Lewis Voting Rights Act every day from now until Election Day if that’s what it takes. Make the GOP and Manchinema own it. It’s not like they’re doing anything else anyway. JoyAnnReid This isn't King's fault, but his state just re-elected a woman, Susan Collins, who doesn't support voting rights. Where is his criticism of her?

'The one hour and 52 minutes of our President Joe Bidens speech on what Americans can do to support and accomplish our goals for a better future are more than any President has ever bothered to speak about in our nation's history and never played a single round of golf'. AWESOME! Our Party is TOO SOFT, the Love of some fictional old days will be the end of Democracy. We will prevail in the end due to superior numbers, economic might of our States, Tech and Media but NOW its gonna have to get BLOODY Oh Well 💀

JoyAnnReid “Inability?” If he knows he is lying then “honestly feel” means nothing Propaganda Back then women and minorities couldn’t vote. But yeah. It’s the same thing now. Seriously stop the theatrics 🤦‍♂️. Voter suppression is so bad that we had the most votes ever in a presidential election a year ago. Stop this nonsense. Any legal citizen can vote.

DesperateDemocrats BidenDisaster JoyAnnReid This is a major blow for people of color and poor people. I lived throughout 50's and 60's... this looks a lot like what we were fighting back then. The fight must continue... Sad... JoyAnnReid SethAbramson Sen_JoeManchin and SenatorSinema voted tonight to pardon all those involved in the January6th planning and attack. That's where this is headed without VotingRights .

JoyAnnReid JoyAnnReid 🤦🏻‍♂️ JoyAnnReid Just In: SenatorSinema will be primaried in 2024. She was seen in a Red Dress shaking hands with SenJohnKennedy after voting not to change the FILIBUSTER ! She'll have lots of wine to drink in her forced retirement! not even close to similar Call it what it is CHEATING Rights Act! Brought to you by the cheating party! “Man I tried to vote and they wouldn’t let me” said by No F’ing Body that is legit!

F*ck Sinema. F*ck Manchin. The attitude of gratitude will finish all complaints. Reaffirm: 'I am a loveful being. I thank God for who I am and what I have. I thank everyone I meet and everything I use today. I thank the elements of nature for sustaining me today. I thank my body for being healthy today.”

Hmm. POTUS said it had record turnout in 2020. No fraud. Which is it? If you are too stupid or lazy to register to vote and then cast a ballot in the weeks of early voting already in the vast majority of states, you shouldn't be voting.

sounds like liberals would love to live in the past, you know when they wore white robes and burned crosses. this is the 21st century stop dragging the country down into that hell you so desperately want to relive, daily! How delusional does one have to be to draw parallels between 1890 and 2022 🤦🏻‍♂️

Of course, it is the party with whom he caucuses that orchestrated the filibuster of the Lodge Bill, just as it was his caucus that filibustered only last year police reform legislation. He has the power to show the alleged sincerity in his convictions by ceasing to so caucus. The Senate is a fundamentally undemocratic body. Why should it concern itself with democracy?

RichardStk1 Republicans have proven once again they do not believe in or want free and fair elections. SethAbramson We need a whole lot GoodTrouble Oh stop it. We are as far away from 1965 today as people in 1965 were from William Howard Taft being elected. The country is nothing like it was 57 years ago.

No comparison to todays world. Women didn’t start voting til 1920. Your point is weak.

Even the dollar I spent on 4 months seems like I over paid for this drivel…

Kyrsten Sinema , of Arizona, to support changing the filibuster rules to allow the passage of the voting-rights bills. King told me in an interview, however, “Unless they have some kind of an epiphany, I don’t see them changing.” King views the current crisis as existential for the country: both Republican and Democratic voters increasingly fear that the other side is stealing elections. “I have never been so worried about the future of the country,” King told me. “I lived through the Cuban missile crisis and Vietnam and the recession of 2008. What worries me is that the structure of our system is at risk.” Informal talks between centrist Republicans and Democrats continue, but the Senate’s inability to agree on how to protect democracy is the latest sign that the Trumpian tactic of energizing, turning out, and, in some cases, misleading one’s political base is more effective than centrism at winning elections. Like others, King sees Trump’s refusal to concede the election—the first time that a major-party Presidential candidate had done so since the tradition of publicly acknowledging defeat began, in 1896—as the most dangerous immediate threat to American democracy. He said that Trump’s stoking of long-running Republican suspicions of systemic Democratic voter fraud—allegations that have no basis in fact—has been used in nineteen states in the past year to implement voting restrictions that will impede Democratic turnout, particularly among people of color and young voters. “Trump has undermined confidence among Republicans in the fundamental democratic process of elections,” King said. “They are now setting about making changes on the state level which will undermine the confidence of Democrats and independents in the electoral process.” King hails those Republicans—former Vice-President Mike Pence and the Georgia secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, among others—who thwarted Trump’s efforts in 2020. “Without a few people—almost all Republicans—with integrity and adherence to the Constitution,” King said, “there’s no telling where we would’ve been.” But he calls the G.O.P.’s stance since then “stone-cold obstruction.” He told me, “If we continue in this downward spiral of loss of trust in our system, it’s going to be very hard to restore.” He added, “The problem is what does that leave you if A) you view elections as Armageddon and your opponent will destroy the country if elected; and B) you can’t trust the elections. Violence is not an unlikely outcome.” King said that his Republican friends in the Senate don’t see—or claim they don’t see—the dangerous dynamics that he describes: “Privately, they say, ‘What are you worried about? You’re being alarmist.’ ” The farthest that Republicans will go, he said, is to concede behind closed doors that Trump’s claims the 2020 race was stolen are false. “I think they do know that all this election-fraud stuff is phony. I think they do know that,” King said. The situation has prompted him to ask fellow-lawmakers why Republican-controlled state legislatures are restricting voting. “I have some pretty good friends on the Republican side, and I haven’t heard any of them acknowledge that what’s going on is of concern.” Brendan Nyhan, a political scientist at Dartmouth College, told me that both sides are increasingly playing to their political base. Joe Biden , after months of largely ignoring his predecessor, has begun calling out Trump and his Republican enablers. In a recent speech in Georgia, the President compared opponents of the voting-rights bills to Bull Connor, the notorious commissioner of public safety in Birmingham, Alabama, in the nineteen-sixties, who unleashed attack dogs on peaceful civil-rights protesters. Biden’s rhetoric won praise from his party’s liberal base, but it sparked a rare rebuke from Senator Mitt Romney, who said that the comparison was offensive. Nyhan said, “Here we are. Our political system is absolutely paralyzed. Our system is unable to respond a year after an insurrection, and with another effort to subvert an election ahead. That’s what I’m most alarmed about.” Nyhan called the situation unprecedented. “The fundamental problem is that the partisan divide over the threat to democracy is so profound,” he told me “The party system is splitting over how democracy should work, and that is terrifying.” Nyhan noted that Democrats and centrists in Congress have three to six months to enact laws that would safeguard elections before the 2022 midterms, when the pro-Trump Republicans could potentially win control of the House. He thinks that crucial reforms would include clarifying the Electoral Count Act—a vaguely worded 1887 law that Trump falsely claimed allows Vice-Presidents to reject votes they deem fraudulent—and banning the removal of nonpartisan election officials without proof of wrongdoing. “At a minimum, we need a bill that reduces the election-subversion threat.” He told me that the informal talks between King and various other senators have “given me a tiny bit of hope, but I’m not optimistic.” Gubernatorial politics in Maine in the years since King held that office suggest what may lie ahead on the national stage. King was succeeded by John Baldacci, a centrist Democrat who served two terms. Then, from 2011 to 2019, the office was held by Paul LePage, a Republican firebrand who has called himself “Trump before Trump,” and whose false claims and attacks on welfare recipients and immigrants showed that energizing the Republican base could win elections in a state once known for political independence. Twice, LePage won multiple-candidate races for governor, defeating a Democratic nominee and an independent who tried to follow in King’s footsteps. This year, after a semi-retirement in Florida, LePage is running for governor again, challenging the incumbent, Janet Mills, another centrist Democrat. He has assailed Mills for backing vaccination mandates, and he recently proposed that hospital employees not be required to get the COVID -19 vaccine, but that welfare recipients should. Woodard, of the Portland Press Herald , said that LePage has an uphill fight against Mills, but his odds would improve if there were one or more independent candidates in the race, as was the case in his previous wins. “There’s a very significant Trumpist segment of the electorate, but most of the time successful statewide candidates are still the ones who can win the center,” Woodard said, adding that LePage really is “Trump before Trump, and, like the former President, he’s regularly defied conventional analysis.” In 1890, the House of Representatives passed a voting-rights act that would have banned violent attacks, poll taxes, and other forms of voter suppression that were ruthlessly used against freed slaves across the South after the Civil War. Henry Cabot Lodge, Republican of Massachusetts, was the sponsor. The act died in a filibuster in the Senate, where Democratic senators opposed it. King told me, “The result was seventy-five years of egregious voter suppression in the South. That was a mistake made by a few senators. I honestly feel that we may be at a similar moment.” He added, “I’m afraid we’re making a mistake that will harm the country for decades.” New Yorker Favorites