No, the rot is not equivalent

It’s fashionable in certain circles to suggest that both the Dems and the GOP have been taken over by the loonies. While there are plenty of crazy Trumpistas in the GOP and loony woke people in the Democratic party, I don’t buy into the “pox on both your houses” view of the situation. Put simply, the loony Trumpistas have totally taken over the GOP, whereas the Dems are not yet a personality cult, nor are they controlled by woke leftists.

The recent NYC mayoral primary offers a striking example. The primary was won by Eric Adams, who is tough on crime, favors charter schools, wants to keep standardized tests for elite high schools, is pro congestion pricing and is a pro-development YIMBY. I’m sure he also supports lots of bad policies, but how much better can one realistically expect from a Democrat in that liberal city? The “defund the police” mob does not yet control the Dems.

A reasonable Republican supporter might respond that at the local level there are plenty of Republicans who are not wild-eyed Trumpistas, and who have even better policy views than Adams. I agree. But that’s not what distinguishes the two parties today.

The real issue is that Republican politicians who stand up for democracy and the rule of law fear for their lives and the lives of their families. Democratic politicians that oppose Biden do not fear for their lives. It’s that simple.

The Economist is a centrist magazine that is published in the UK, and they often have a much clearer view of what’s going on here than do Americans who can’t see the forest for the trees:

Bill Gates, a member of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors (and one of the “enemies of the people” blasted outside the Coliseum), is a lonely example [BTW, not the Microsoft Gates]. A longtime Republican of the Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp mould, Mr Gates has received death threats for defending the legitimacy of the election. “If this is a new normal, our democracy is definitely in peril. Because you can’t do this and have a healthy, functioning democracy,” he says.

His other Republican credentials—cutting taxes and even supporting tighter voting laws—have ceased to matter. “There may be electoral consequences to me down the road. I’m not currently worried. This is too important…9/11 was a threat to our safety. This is the biggest threat to our democracy,” he adds. “We were the party of the rule of law.” Mr Gates argues that the party has lost its Burkean roots in favour of feverish populism. Thought of as a careful and pragmatic politician before, with some aspirations for statewide office, Mr Gates’s stance may have sunk his chances.

In his retirement, he had dreamed of going to the former Soviet republics to serve as an election observer in fledgling democracies. With some emotion in his voice, he reflects, “I never imagined that it would be here. I would do it here in Maricopa County…that’s what’s just stunning.” Looking around he repeats, almost to himself: “I don’t need to go to Belarus. I got it right here.”

When I began saying that America was becoming a banana republic, commenters said I was being hysterical. OK, now we have Republicans in the Reagan/Kemp mold saying exactly the same thing. Still think I’m being hysterical?

Here’s GOP Congressman Peter Meijer from Michigan (or should I say soon to be former GOP congressman?), in a Reason magazine interview:

And then one of the saddest things is I had colleagues who, when it came time to recognize reality and vote to certify Arizona and Pennsylvania in the Electoral College, they knew in their heart of hearts that they should’ve voted to certify, but some had legitimate concerns about the safety of their families. They felt that that vote would put their families in danger.

Really? You heard that?


Wow. That’s pretty striking.

That’s pretty much the textbook definition of a banana republic.

I know what you are going to say; just another delusional Republican that is overreacting to recent events. But here’s what I don’t get. When these “hysterical” Republican get interviewed they seem like normal human beings. When the “steal the election” Trumpistas get interviewed they come across as escaped mental patients that are off their meds. What should we infer from that pattern?

Most comparisons of the two parties miss the point. Each party is right on some issues and wrong on others. The key difference is that one party is a personality cult that is trying to subvert democracy, and the other is not. In 2021, that’s all that really matters.

PS. Don’t you hate it when left wing newspapers mention Hitler and Trump in the same article? Here’s The Guardian:

On a visit to Europe to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the first world war, Donald Trump insisted to his then chief of staff, John Kelly: “Well, Hitler did a lot of good things.”

The remark from the former US president on the 2018 trip, which reportedly “stunned” Kelly, a retired US Marine Corps general, is reported in a new book by Michael Bender of the Wall Street Journal.

Imagine a Hitler that didn’t launch WWII or the Holocaust. That’s sort of how I have always viewed Trump, and I suspect that’s how he views himself. A “doing good things” Hitler that likes to troll.



36 Responses to “No, the rot is not equivalent”

  1. Gravatar of Jason Jason
    11. July 2021 at 12:09

  2. Gravatar of Jason Jason
    11. July 2021 at 12:28

    Meanwhile the REAL Hitler marches on, Scott, as opposed to the bloviating buffoon that was 45.

  3. Gravatar of steve steve
    11. July 2021 at 12:57

    For me I think that I realized things had changed a few years ago after Trump had been in office a couple of years. A friend (surgeon) and I were talking over politics one day when I complained about some issue that Trump had lied about. He informed me that Trump had never lied. I clarified making sure he really meant never, including in his pre-political life. Never it was! Just floored me. Everyone has lied about something sometime, even if was just a white lie. That a normal person with a real job could believe something like that just floored me. Really hit home that this was different.


  4. Gravatar of Grant Gould Grant Gould
    11. July 2021 at 13:21

    Back here in MA the state GOP is trying to primary the Republican, 70-percent-approval-in-a-blue-state governor in order to cement trumpist control of the state party; they’re willing to burn down their only reliable connection to actual power for the sake of the cult.

    I don’t even know what you call such an institution: I don’t think you can really call it a political party if it’s actively running away from winning elections.

  5. Gravatar of TGGP TGGP
    11. July 2021 at 13:24

    Is Gates really a “longtime Republican”? His political donations over the long term seem much more mixed:
    That’s from 2012, so it shouldn’t reflect any Trump effect.

  6. Gravatar of gt gt
    11. July 2021 at 13:52


    That’s referring to a different Bill Gates. This Bill Gates is not a billionaire but ist the former Vice Mayor of Phoenix. I was confused too.

  7. Gravatar of Matthias Matthias
    11. July 2021 at 14:56

    Bill Gates is a bit confusing in Scott’s quote, but the context in the Economist’s article makes it much clearer.

  8. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    11. July 2021 at 15:05

    Steve, Very early in life I learned that someone could have a seemingly distinguished job, such as surgeon, and be a complete idiot.

    I’ve met economists with ivy league PhDs who say absolutely crazy things.

    Grant, You said:

    “I don’t even know what you call such an institution:”

    I do. A personality cult.

    TGGP, I clarified that it’s not the famous Bill Gates.

  9. Gravatar of dtoh dtoh
    11. July 2021 at 15:22

    I notice there is zero discussion of the actual policies of the two parties.

  10. Gravatar of foosion foosion
    11. July 2021 at 15:47

    A very large number of republicans want to make it harder to vote, even for those clearly entitled to vote.

  11. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    11. July 2021 at 18:05


    That’s because this post is not about the policies of the 2 parties, Sumner makes it very clear:

    “Most comparisons of the two parties miss the point. Each party is right on some issues and wrong on others. The key difference is that one party is a personality cult that is trying to subvert democracy, and the other is not. In 2021, that’s all that really matters.”

    Are you still clinging to your confusion about how Trump and his cultists have been trying to steal the 2020 election?

  12. Gravatar of David S David S
    12. July 2021 at 04:00

    Grant, don’t underestimate the level of crazy or its potential for election success. You’re right about the conditions in Massachusetts, but look how Paul LePage is running for governor again in Maine.

    The GOP has better than even odds of retaking the House and Senate in the midterms. A lot of the candidates that win will be all-in Trumpists and will continue to do institutional damage. Conditions at the state and local level will continue to deteriorate–Cyber Ninjas as election auditors everywhere.

    I think the Trump cult will persist for a few decades, and quite probably generate a candidate who is more ruthless and better organized.

  13. Gravatar of Jeff Jeff
    12. July 2021 at 07:48


    I think the same thing would’ve been attempted against Larry Hogan in Maryland were he currently in his first term. I don’t think it will be successful yet (the favorite for the GOP primary in 2022 is a Hogan cabinet member) but she’s going to face a challenge from a Trump cultist state delegate.

    It’s anecdata, but the seeming shift online from people that loved Hogan back in 2014 to now is stunning. The Democratic candidate will very likely win in 2022, but it will be a blowout if they Trumpist delegate wins the GOP primary.

  14. Gravatar of Philo Philo
    12. July 2021 at 08:02

    Most Republican office-holders are people like Mitch McConnell: moderate conservatives of a conventional sort, who arose in the party before Trump came on the scene. Now they have to avoid antagonizing voters who are enthusiastic about Trump and the relatively few true trumpista elected officials such as Margery Taylor Greene; but at the earliest opportunity they will steer away from Trumpism. Since Trump is 75 years old, not in the best of health, out of power and banished from Twitter, it is reasonable to expect his influence to wane; and I see no one ready to step in as his successor.

    I admit that the Republican Party has moved in a nationalist, populist direction; I just think it has not moved *very much*.

  15. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    12. July 2021 at 08:39

    dtoh, You said:

    “I notice there is zero discussion of the actual policies of the two parties.”

    Zero except for my discussion of the fact that NYC primary voters picked Adams, and I discussed his (moderate) policy views.

    In any case, the point of the post is that policy differences are now almost irrelevant. Both parties now favor a firehose of federal spending and big deficits. The only important difference is that one party favors democracy and the other does not.

    Philo, You said:

    “but at the earliest opportunity they will steer away from Trumpism. Since Trump is 75 years old, not in the best of health, out of power and banished from Twitter, it is reasonable to expect his influence to wane; and I see no one ready to step in as his successor.”

    What makes you think the GOP voters will allow it to go back to Jeb Bush/Mitt Romney style Republicanism? And how is Trump washed up? All it would take is a recession or a health problem for Biden to put Trump back in the White House in 2024. Does anyone seriously think Kamala Harris could win, when Hillary could not?

    The day after the election, I did a post saying the result might actually be bad news. Now we’d have 12 years of Trump instead of 8.

  16. Gravatar of Sean Sean
    12. July 2021 at 08:59

    The only people who have made me fear for my life were leftists. I’ve actually seen the leftists violence. Had a friend mugged and beaten up.

    Look up Chesa Boudin. Plenty of San Francisco people are tired of the increase in crime. Yes NYC has course corrected (though he didn’t 50% plus of the vote).

    Gop can course correct too. Trump has already indicated he might let Desantis run. That gets you a normie competent GOP who can settle people down.

    Read this thread to understand how you got a crazy GOP. They were hit first.

  17. Gravatar of Sean Sean
    12. July 2021 at 09:11

    And for every example you have of “anonymous death threats” you have a Maxine Waters calling for rioting if the jury voted wrong on Chauvin. That’s a leader Democratic politician undermining the right to a jury trial. That jury didn’t have the option of voting their conscious.

    And everyone believes their would be riots if Trump won. That’s not Democracy. GOP had one riot. We all know their would have been major riots in every American city if Trump won.

  18. Gravatar of Thane Thane
    12. July 2021 at 09:25

    Love this blog but it would be greatly enhanced to see Scott transition from the word Trumpista as a descriptor of the cultists to Trumpalo. Trumpalo is a mixture of Trump + Juggalo and the cultists are about as weird (it not moreso) as the juggalos.

  19. Gravatar of dtoh dtoh
    12. July 2021 at 12:52


    So just to be clear, you don’t think there are any major policy differences between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party.

    More specifically and just to name a few, do you think both parties have the same position on

    Eliminating secret balloting in elections
    Defunding the police
    Critical race theory
    Illegal immigration
    Censoring speech
    Interpretation of the Constitution
    Cancelling the unwoke
    Green new deal
    Middle East
    Political correctness

  20. Gravatar of anon/portly anon/portly
    12. July 2021 at 13:34

    Maybe you linked to this in another thread – which might be how I know about it – but I think this is particularly touching, or harrowing, or something:

  21. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    12. July 2021 at 13:36


    Do you think both parties have the same position on overturning the results of a presidential election after it has been conducted, tallied, investigated, challenged (unsuccessfully), and certified?

  22. Gravatar of anon/portly anon/portly
    12. July 2021 at 13:40

    It’s good to remember that not that long ago political violence was so common, that it was a common theme or element in cinema.

  23. Gravatar of Jeff Jeff
    12. July 2021 at 14:30

    Scott, I think you misunderstand what motivates Trump supporters.

  24. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    12. July 2021 at 14:33

    Sean, You said:

    “We all know their would have been major riots in every American city if Trump won.”

    As in 2016?

    dtoh, Both favor secret ballots, both oppose defunding the police (although the GOP is somewhat in favor of defunding the tax police.) Both oppose illegal immigration. Both favor private censorship. Both favor state university censorship. Both have similar Middle East policies. Both favor massive increases in spending. Both favor political correctness. Dems favor raising taxes now. The GOP favors massive spending increases with future tax increases.

    Anon, Good Atlantic article.

  25. Gravatar of Sean Sean
    12. July 2021 at 14:52

    The police have already been defunded. Chicago had like 10% of the normal police applications. 5 cops were shot a week ago. Who in their right mind wants to be a cop anymore. Major cities can’t even higher as many police as they want. Who wants to be a policeman today. They won’t be able to field competent police forces because they made the job awful.

    Election violence began in 2020 by the Democrats. GOP did join them. Apple barricaded their expensive stores. That wasn’t preparation for GOP riots. Which we’ve still never seen against ordinary Americans.

  26. Gravatar of Rinat Rinat
    12. July 2021 at 15:03

    Sumner’s “moderate” party is seeking to pack the Supreme Court, silence speech, teach kids CRT – a derivation of the German Marxist School, which essentially creates a caste based upon skin color, remove the filibuster, and add Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. as states for the sole purpose of maintaining a political majority. Sumner’s democrat party, the so called “moderates”, are so tired of compromise (who knew compromise and negotiation was democratic concept) that they are willing to blow up the entire system to create a totalitarian party that can push through their agenda.

    Lets revisit Sumner’s “moderate democrats”: BLM killed, maimed, murdered, burned, and raped their way across the country for nearly 180 days with the support of “moderates”: Oregon is still battling the ANTIFA/BLM thugs as we speak. Many business owners will remained closed, and many families will never see their loved ones again; because of the thuggery and violence these losers brought to their towns.

    Almost every state run by democrats is corrupt and broke! Massachusetts, the incredibly ugly and shitty state Sumner knows so well, cannot even repair its roads. The houses look dilapidated, like a “third world” country. NY is broke. CA is broke. They keep borrowing, and they keep praying – presumably until they can’t borrow anymore! SFO spends $2,700 per tent for homeless people – who would have thought a tent could cost so much (kickbacks for Pelosi?).

    The apparatchiks and politburos in Washington are planning a “Covid pass”, similar to Frances new tyrannical health pass, that restricts movement for those who refuse to take the vaccine. The ill-informed and wannabe attorney’s – point to Jacobson vs Massachusetts as their precedence for “compulsory vaccinations”; however, it’s unlikely that any of the wannabe’s actually read the ruling. If you read it – which requires being an intellectual, and not a pseudo-intellectual, you will find the words “grave threat to society”, which clearly refers to small pox having a fatality rate of 30%. If you think that a 1% fatality rate is a “grave threat” then we will all live under medical tyranny forever. It will open a Pandora’s box in which the innocuous flu can be used to lock you down, or in the CCP’s case – weld shut your doors. That’s Sumner’s wish – to have a govt of “experts” that welds your door shut. Nothing is too tyrannical for Sumner’s “moderate” liberals.

    Publishers are banning books because they aren’t “woke enough”. Big Tech is silencing those who express their views.

    All of this horror perpetuated by “moderates”, and Sumner is worried about Trump calling for border security and tariffs that protect the American worker!

    Precisely who is the moderate? The billionaire businessman with common sense proposals, or the illiterate social science pseudo intellectuals who make a paltry 50K a year, call for a “revolution, pat each others backs and suck each others dicks, dream of micro-managing lives, and create no product or service worthwhile to anyone, anywhere?

    And for those that point to his personality: it’s irrelevant. It’s the policy proposals that matter.

  27. Gravatar of ankh ankh
    12. July 2021 at 15:43

    This post doesn’t make any sense.

    So you are saying the incoming mayor is a moderate? But isn’t the current mayor a moderate?

    And what is the condition of NYC today with the current moderate mayor?

    Yeah, not good!

    If Bill de Blasio is your idea of a moderate democrat run city, I can see why most people are moving to Texas and Florida.

  28. Gravatar of Sean Sean
    12. July 2021 at 16:46

    de Blasio isn’t a moderate, Adams though is a legit moderate and borderline modern GOP.

  29. Gravatar of dtoh dtoh
    12. July 2021 at 20:53


    So you don’t think there are policy differences between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party?

    Now at last I get why you don’t understand how anyone can be a Trump supporter.

  30. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    12. July 2021 at 22:13


    No, you still do not get it. Ignoring what’s right in front of your face embarrasses you.

  31. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    13. July 2021 at 08:31

    Rinat, You said:

    “Sumner’s “moderate” party is seeking to pack the Supreme Court,”

    LOL, I stopped after the very first line. Try to be at least remotely plausible in your wild assertions.

    dtoh, You said:

    “So you don’t think there are policy differences between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party?”

    You say this right after my response which provides a specific policy difference on taxes? My point is that the policy differences are minor compared to the other differences in the two parties, such as whether they support free and fair elections.

  32. Gravatar of dtoh dtoh
    13. July 2021 at 18:40

    I think it’s semantics whether you say there are no policy differences or that the policy differences are minor.

    Suffice it say, that there are a lot of people who think the policy differences are huge. If they didn’t, why would anyone vote for Trump .

  33. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    13. July 2021 at 19:02


    Because for the vast majority of voters, politics has very little to do with policy. It’s tribal affiliation.

  34. Gravatar of Bob OBrien Bob OBrien
    13. July 2021 at 20:32

    From Scott:

    “My point is that the policy differences are minor compared to the other differences in the two parties, such as whether they support free and fair elections.”

    I agree that the most important issue for the country is to make sure we have free and fair elections. This is much more important than who (Biden or Trump) won the election or who wins elections in the future. The people of this country will fix things in the end if they have free elections.

    Clearly the dems cheated in the last election!! The dems who make the key decisions DO NOT support free and fair elections! Maybe some Republicans also cheated but not even close to the level of cheating by the dems. The activity going on today regarding election integrity is just as important to honest liberals as it is to honest conservatives. It should not be a partisan issue.

  35. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    26. July 2021 at 11:20

    Bob OBrien,

    Where’s the proof of this alleged cheating? Nobody can ever produce it. They brag that they have it and they show video clips out of context (but never in court cuz lying to the judge is a problem and they know it). It’s all smoke and mirrors. It’s truly The Big Lie.

    Trump said repeatedly before the 2016 election “I’ll accept the outcome of the vote PROVIDED I WIN!” He also said it would be rigged. This is precisely consistent with someone who planned ahead of time to say they were cheated if they lost. Then he did the exact same thing in 2020 only moreso, but having lost he now followed through on his very public plan and claimed he’d been cheated.

  36. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    26. July 2021 at 11:24

    Scott, you are right: the GOP is a personality cult. That’s the main difference between the GOP and the Dems.

    Why don’t all the Republicans who don’t want to be in a personality cult temporarily switch parties. You can drag the Dems back to the right on policy a bit and likewise keep power away from the cultists until they get they change their meds or start to die off.

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