Mitt's hypocrisy here is stunning. Much of the reason that Biden isn't able to confront climate change and the attacks on democracy is that the Republican senators, led by Moscow Mitch, are gleefully throwing sand in the gears by filibustering anything that will make progress. It's infuriating that he has the nerve to piously bleat about climate change and Biden's ineffectiveness when if he got off his butt and rounded up 9 more senators to work on these problems, they could, you know, do their jobs and pass some laws,.

Expand full comment

We seem to be. The Republican media machine created a lie that Obama and now Biden are an embarrassment on the world stage. But the truth is that Republicans, starting with Reagan, have often been an embarrassment. Reagan recovered with his reaching out to Gorbachev, and Bush II at least showed our better side in his work in Africa. But Trump made us a laughing stock.

And then we have our gun fetish.

No one else but conservatives would think that the 2nd amendment is about anything but community volunteer soldiers out to protect the community. b

Democrats and moderates are not in denial, but GOP voters, egged on by spinmeisters like Tucker Carlson, are in denial.

Expand full comment

I hate articles like the one Romney wrote. Not because they're wrong, because they're a waste. Mitt Romney is, on paper at least, one of the top 1000 most powerful men in the world. But all he can manage is punditry. Stop telling me what's wrong. Tell me what you want to *do*. Republicans don't even fail to live up to promises anymore; they just don't make them. What are your answers, Senator Romney?

Expand full comment
Jul 5, 2022·edited Jul 5, 2022

America is in denial and Mitt Romney is correct in his assessment of the situation.

That said, the problems Senator Romney cites on the Right, climate change and attacks on our political system, he has done nothing to address and has in fact further exacerbated the harm. He has no serious proposals on climate and voted to not even open debate on reauthorization of the John Lewis Voting Right's Act.

The problem though isn't simply that America is in denial, it's that we don't have a shared set of facts. Perhaps furthering the significance of the problem is that we seem to crave media that furthers our denial and reinforces our own cognitive biases.

I think this issue is most evident in Trumpers who are so in denial that they will claim anything in order to avoid the cognitive dissonance created by any evidence that shows they've been bamboozled by the former president.

However, the Democratic establishment and many old guard Democrats are in denial too... about what the Republican party has become, the breakdown of norms, and what is required to prevent us from collapsing into minority rule.

Ultimately though, the incentives in politics are no longer to have a rational debate about issues, but rather to ignore them and relentlessly drive home the same message. Politicians are generally not ignorant about problems facing the nation (debt, border security, climate, democracy, etc...), it's just that talking about issues that a candidate isn't running on only helps their opponent. It's in their career interest to never acknowledge their opponents may have a point. It's information warfare, not rational debate, and it's also part of why I think debates do little to change the public mind. It's because we, the citizens and voters of this nation, don't actually want real debate. That's boring, requires thinking, and being open to the possibility that we may in fact be wrong. It's a circumstance which can be anxiety-inducing at best and create full blown cognitive dissonance that can seem unbearable at worst. It's much easier and more emotionally gratifying to pretend that problems don't exist and listen to people who tell us what we already think.

Lastly, and I'll reveal my own bias here, the biggest reason IMO, why we've lost interest in serious debate, is that the Right has lost confidence in their ability to win the debate.

Expand full comment
Jul 5, 2022·edited Jul 5, 2022

I'm going to back up Romney a little. It's the left that won't play ball on nuclear, at least not until very recently. The border stuff is delusional, Dems would support a border security problem but the Rs need perennial crisis there. But otherwise, I agree with the notion that both-sidesism is our death spiral.

Just like when Sean Trende echos the Bulwark saying Dems shouldn't help schizo Rs win primaries, it will be the "Dems' fault" when autocracy comes. Not the autocrats. Not their voters. Democrats. They're to blame for everything. The progleft blames "Democrats" for everything just like the Rs.

Don't you hate it when lefties deny personal agency and responsibility to people?

The truth is the Democrats can't save democracy by themselves without either doing authoritarian shit in service of it, which defeats the point, or, you know, getting people to care about democracy more than gas prices (which are going down).

The suggestion that Democrats should just get elected and pass Republican-prefered laws to save democracy is basically saying, "yes, negotiate with terrorists." Also, last time the Dems passed a major piece of legislation that originated in a right-wing think tank and was, ahem, first implemented by none other than Mitt Romney, the Republicans didn't say "gee, how gracious of you not doing Canada care, but doing RomneyCare instead!" No they went to war with it for a decade. The Democrats could build the wall and ban muslims and MAGA would be against it because Democrats did it.

The blame is with the MAGA voter. End.

Expand full comment

Mona's piece left me feeling even sadder than I was when I woke up this morning in the wake of the Highland Park shooting, which was in the wake of Uvalde, the SCOTUS rulings, the J6 revelations, the comments from Sarah's focus groups, etc., etc., etc. It's all building into a dangerous sense of hopelessness.

Mona writes, "...we have to consider that a child unwillingly carried to term (unless placed for adoption) is also more likely to be abused and neglected than a wanted child. An enhanced safety net for poor parents seems a necessary response to a post-Dobbs world." That last sentence seems deeply misguided to me (massive understatement). All the safety nets in the world are not going to change the fact that some pregnancies are not wanted, not planned and not desirable. There are many ways that a pregnancy can accidentally occur. Must every accidental pregnancy utterly change the course of a girl's or woman's life? (This doesn't even address the monstrous issue of rape and incest.) Why should a woman be forced to go through childbirth because Mona and her friends think she should? Why do Mona and her friends think that a bit of money will change the woman's mind or will make her want to devote the rest of her life to raising and supporting an unwanted child? Will that bit of money ensure that the unwanted child will not be neglected or abused? No.

I'm not at all discounting what a gut-wrenching decision it is to end an unwanted pregnancy, but women should be the ones making that decision, not the state, and not well-meaning people like Mona. Please do help those who need and want the help, but don't do it in service of a draconian system that is forcing women to give birth to unwanted children. Mona writes that some pro-lifers see themselves as successors to the anti-slavery movement. This is truly grotesque.

Expand full comment

Exhibit A of fragmenting national identity: Symbols matter. It makes me unspeakably angry and sad the American flag several of my family members and I literally served under and fought for has been so disgustingly hijacked by the far right. The MAGAs have gleefully embraced it as "their" flag, and tragically I feel that many of my blue neighbors have conceded it without a fight.

Expand full comment

In 2020, most people who voted for President Biden voted their faith. Faith that good people would do right, would see that justice prevailed over the lawlessness unleashed by the previous president, that we would finally see accountability. Two years on, people have begun to despair that justice will be done. As the 1/6 Committee hearings unfold, showing us that the plot against our democracy was wider, deeper and more degenerate than any of us imagined, we feel outraged but also helpless. As of now, it seems the will of good people to do good and seek justice doesn't match the willingness of bad people to do evil.

So, I'm not surprised that many Americans aren't feeling very proud of their country right now. But I don't measure patriotism by pride; I measure it by how much I love my country. People don't get discouraged when they don't care. It only affects those who do. And I do.

So, FTR, I'm not exactly proud of my country right now, but I still love it. And always will. My husband and I made our annual trip on July 4th to place flowers on the graves of 3 Continental soldiers from my home state who are buried here in NC, hundreds of miles from home. Two of them were recent immigrants from Ireland who took up arms for their new country. All of them died within months of the final victory at Yorktown. They fought for years, mostly without pay, and didn't live to see what they accomplished. I often think of their families and wonder if they ever learned what happened to their loved ones. If those people could weather the storm they faced, so can I. So can we. Take heart.

Expand full comment

America has been in denial for a LONG time. Denial is easy when denying that certain things are so serves your interests and prejudices.

We denied that the natives had a right to the land that they lived on and possessed before people starting arriving from Europe--while the government might have theoretically recognized that at some points (for all the good it did the natives), a lot of the citizens of this country did not.

We denied that Africans were full human beings and so they could be property--and we still denied this even after a war that killed more Americans than any other war we have had. There are still many who deny that non-whites (especially blacks) are, can be, or should equals.

We have a lot of people who deny that their political opponents actually can hold power legitimately or exercise power legitimately.

We have a lot of people who deny women the right to control their own bodies.

We have a lot of people who denied the idea that someone like TFG could actually get elected--and so helped him get elected.

We have a lot of people in the GoP "leadership" who deny they can do anything about the mess their party is.

Denial is not just a river in Egypt it is the ground state of large swathes of our population.

Expand full comment

Hi Charlie,

I spent this 4th of July in London visiting family and friends. Even before the news of the Highland Park shooting, one family told me that they were changing their vacation plans and going to Canada instead of the US this summer, because their teenagers don't think visiting the US is safe. People ask us all the time why we would live in the US when we can live in the UK (and our friends are not Tories, dislike Boris Johnson and were horrified at Brexit--they just think things in the US are much worse). It's hard to argue with them. No matter what else is going on here, you simply never worry that your children will be gunned down in school, or that you can't go to a large public event without putting your life at risk.

As I think about the GOP response we can expect to the Highland Park shooting, it seems to me that their strategy is that as mass shootings multiply, the hope is that we will notice them less and less. As a country, we already ignore shootings in poor and Black neighborhoods (I read that there were at least 2 other mass shootings in Chicago over the weekend as well which got no news coverage), and that eventually the shock will dissipate along with media coverage. It might just work.

Expand full comment

Trump liked the sleaze he saw in Meadows as a congressman and knew that was his "yes man" for the coup attempt that was in Trump's mind long before the election. Two men of low character willing to jetison the constitution and rule of law.

Expand full comment

I honestly have seen that the Jan 6 committee is having an impact. Two friends of mine who were strong supporters of Trump have just recently (the day after the last hearing) come out forcefully saying that the GOP must move on from Trump. Both would favor more sane candidates like Asa Hutchinson of Larry Hogan now over Ron Desantis. They never mentioned having watched a single second of the hearings but I have a hunch that both watched the key moments and finally reached the point of exhaustion with the deceit and evil that pervaded the Trump administration. One liked much of what Mitt Romney had to say in his article as well. If these two are changing, I have every reason to think that others are as well. Forgive my optimism, but I have to cling to hope where I can find it.

Expand full comment

I am encouraged by this forum (the Bulwark) where both center Left and center Right can discuss issues that impact all of us in a respectful way. The decline of patriotism rests on Trump, Fox, social media and MAGA enablers who play the culture war game. SCOTUS is not helping by its radicalism. The issue of guns and mass shootings could be solved with ACTUAL gun control laws and serious gun buy back programs. The recent mass shootings have been especially brutal and gruesome. Assault rifles should be banned. The middle must come together strongly if any meaningful change is to happen.

Expand full comment

Whatever happened to Civics?

When I was in 9th grade a Civics course was required at school. And every single kid learned about the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the separation of church and state, the balance of power among the three branches of government, and the other principles that (should) guide our democracy. Lessons learned about freedoms and justice. There was little to no discussion of political parties or any of that crap - but today it seems to be one of the most enduring and important classes I ever took.

What happened to this being a required course for all? And if it was in place today would we be in this swamp?

PS never trust a man who puts ketchup on a steak.

Expand full comment

RE: Romney's essay.

As JVL would say....It's the sign that we are a nation of very unserious people.

The last two years with Trump, the pandemic, have hit home to me that the vast majority of people in this country - people who before I would have thought were knowledgeable, intelligent and educated - don't care about reality.

They just want things they way they want them - reality and consequences be damned.

A deadly pandemic? Who cares? I don't want to be inconvienced at all (wearing a mask, limiting people in a store, etc.)

Debt is too high? I don't care, I want lower taxes, a COVID check, my social security check to increase...

Inflation is high? Why is the Fed raising interest rates? I want a cheap home loan, a cheap credit card, etc.

The list goes on and on and on....

Expand full comment

Proud to be an American? No, I am not. The reasons are many including the fact that the Supreme Court has now determined that, after 49 years of a constitutionally protected right to abortion, women do not have body autonomy. The state they live in now dictates whether or not they have reproductive rights. Women are officially second class citizens- again.

An equally disturbing reason to lack pride in this country is the epidemic of gun violence that knows no end. As of yesterday, we can add 4th of July celebrations to the ever expanding list of places where Americans might be massacred by a young white male using an assault weapon.

So, we can’t feel safe at school, at the grocery store, at church, synagogue or mosque, at a movie theater, at a music concert or nightclub. And now, at the celebration of our country’s independence.

Additionally, it is difficult to feel proud of a country where at least 33% of its citizens believe the 2020 election was rigged by a long dead South American dictator and are in favor of insurrection as a means to fight back.

Expand full comment