The Time to Prevent the Next Coup Attempt Is Now
Plus, Don’t Read Too Much Into Madison Cawthorn’s Defeat
Recently at The Bulwark:
CHARLIE SYKES: The New MAGA Establishment Prevails
JVL: Fettermania Is Now 🔐
You can support The Bulwark by subscribing to Bulwark+ or just by sharing this newsletter with someone you think would value it.
MONA CHAREN: The Time to Prevent the Next Coup Attempt Is Now.
In 1980, because I was an idealistic conservative eager to do my bit for democracy, I volunteered for my local Republican party. Unfortunately, I lived in Manhattan, where Republicans were scarcer on the ground than armadillos. But maybe it wasn’t so unfortunate after all, because I learned a thing or two about the mechanics of elections. The party asked me to be a poll watcher on election day. Along with designees from the other parties (New York had four: Democrats, Republicans, Conservatives, and Liberals), we observed as people came to cast their votes. When polls closed, election officials asked us to gather around as they opened the backs of the machines one by one and tallied the votes. We could all see what was happening, and we all gave our assent that the totals were correct.
It was a glimpse into the ordinary yet extraordinary system we’ve devised over decades and centuries to ensure that elections are performed honestly and securely. Each state has developed its own procedures, but they’re all broadly similar. The results of each polling location are delivered to the precinct and then on to the canvassing board. Election administrators are observed by partisans of both parties. Often, the results are counted more than once. In 2020, more than 90 percent of ballots had paper trails. Perhaps part of the reason our elections were perceived as fair is that so many ordinary Americans, like me, had the experience of seeing the process for themselves.
New, from me: Don’t Read Too Much Into Madison Cawthorn’s Defeat.
Come next January, Democrats won’t have Madison Cawthorn to kick around anymore. The freshman North Carolina congressman lost his primary tonight in a close race—33 to 32 percent, as of this writing—to a state senator.
During his time in Congress, Cawthorn went out of his way to be a jerk. If you read the recent Politico profile, you might have a modicum of sympathy. Like the car crash that left him in a wheelchair, his short stint in the House of Representatives may well transform the rest of his life.
He always wanted to be a member of Congress. Why he did is anyone’s guess. But he got there. And once he did, he learned something important: It’s a shitty job.
Doug Mastriano won because he made clear he’s ready to use the power of the state to steal an election, Republicans find ‘replacement theory’ useful, and Dinesh D’Souza admits he has no evidence. Philip Bump joins Charlie Sykes on today’s podcast.
Bulwark+ members can listen to an ad-free version of these podcasts on the player of their choice. Learn more at Bulwark+ Podcast FAQ.
AMANDA CARPENTER: Are Republicans Now Going to Endorse Doug Mastriano?
Doug Mastriano is an insurrectionist, period.
The winner of tonight’s GOP primary for the governorship of Pennsylvania bused supporters to the Capitol on January 6th, was photographed on the Capitol grounds, and ever since has sought to use his limited political powers as a Pennsylvania state senator to overturn the election.
Behind the scenes, Republicans have fretted about Mastriano’s candidacy. Phrases such as “nightmare” and “total disaster” are frequently used to describe him. He is so off-the-wall that even Donald Trump, who has gone as far as endorsing an insurance commissioner in hopes of racking up wins, stayed out of the race, unwilling to put his finger on the scale until the very last minute. But because Mastriano gained such a strong grassroots following by whipping up the God, guns, and #StopTheSteal base, Trump had no choice. Mastriano boxed in Trump on MAGA. In the final days of Pennsylvania’s GOP gubernatorial primary, Trump said he was “obligated” to endorse Mastriano.
BRIAN STEWART: Pope Francis Is Dangerously Wrong About Ukraine.
Since Vladimir Putin’s renewed war of conquest in Ukraine in late February, Pope Francis has offered perfunctory condemnations of the “violent aggression against Ukraine.” It will surprise nobody that the pope has protested against an unjust war. Alas, it’s more surprising—or, better put, shocking—to find that he’s also protesting against a just one.
Consider that while Ukraine is engaged in a terrible struggle against Russian imperialism, the Roman pontiff has deep misgivings about whether Ukraine has the right to defend itself with armed force. He has said repeatedly that weapons aren’t the solution. He has denounced the “madness” of those democracies increasing their military spending—and imposing sanctions—in response to Russia’s naked belligerence. He has laid the blame for the war not with the savage Kremlin despot who has long nursed dreams of annexing Ukraine into a Greater Russia, but with NATO for “barking” at Russia’s door. And in an unfailing sign of moral confusion, Francis has cited Mahatma Gandhi’s advocacy of nonviolent resistance, insisting that there’s no such thing as a “just war.”
Happy Wednesday, everyone. Here’s a passage from our pal, Dr. Lawrence Eppard:
"[Vance] states that, 'Whatever talents I have, I nearly squandered until a handful of loving people rescued me' (p. 2). He later notes that, 'Thanks to Mamaw, I never saw only the worst of what our community offered, and I believe that saved me. There was always a safe place and a loving embrace if ever I needed it. Our neighbors’ kids couldn’t say the same' (p. 149). He says that his life would have been 'utterly hopeless' (p. 205) without his grandparents’ intervention.”
"Like a 2016 version of a Horatio Alger story, the likely message that most readers will take away from Hillbilly Elegy is that subcultures and the social structure are not connected and the white working class has only themselves to blame for their problems. This is unfortunate, because the ways in which individuals and subcultures are intertwined with structural forces, while never fully articulated by Vance, are not only supported by social science but quite evident in the world Vance himself describes. Vance makes a strong case that extremely challenging circumstances are likely to ensnare even the most well-intentioned people, and he was very lucky it did not happen to him. His narrative suggests a strong relationship between structure and culture, yet his analysis consistently prioritizes the latter. After making arguments suggesting such a complex relationship throughout the book, he then puzzlingly rejects those arguments. This book is very useful resource for those willing to heed the deeper message."
The book, which I have not read, is going to be useful if J.D. Vance becomes a Senator. God help us if that’s the case.
Steve Wynn… Secret agent… of… China?
Can we replace “the great replacement” pushers? Probably not, but we should.
"I can't believe it wasn't done before" How a fashionista turned her sorority’s colors into a big #brand.
Congrats Doctor Swift. Taylor gets her honorary.
That’s it for me. Tech support questions? Email email@example.com. Questions for me? Respond to this message.
Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. For full credits, please consult the article.