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The one question I would most like to see asked at tonight’s debate

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ETA: Bringing this to the top.

“What will your administration do to bring the criminals in and around the Trump administration to justice?”

Ultimately there’s something surreal about having a Democratic presidential candidate debate on a night like tonight. Arguments about this or that variation on universal health care or the Green New Deal or student loan debt relief seem somewhat unreal in an America where the Republican party controls most of the federal government, most of the federal judiciary, most state governments, etc., despite a generation now of having, on most occasions, fewer people vote for it than for the Democratic opposition.

The election of Donald Trump, and his subsequent reign of overt corruption and criminality, has merely put an exclamation mark on the extent to which the Republican party has been morphing into an authoritarian ethno-nationalist movement, where the long-term plan is to create a herrenvolk democracy made up of sufficiently white, sufficiently evangelical, and sufficiently nationalistic citizens. “Plan” is a bit of a misleading word here, as relatively few Republicans will admit even to themselves, even now, that this is what they want. But it is what they want, which is why Donald Trump, who openly advocates for this future, is so wildly popular among them even now.

This is the crisis. This is war by other means. Adam Silverman:

The Democratic presidential primary candidates, as well as every candidate regardless of party up and down the ballot, are now enmeshed in a war. And because it is a political war – politics including other means to use the Clausewitzian formulation- that largely relies on diplomatic, information, economic, intelligence, and legal warfare while downplaying the use of military power. It is a war that is going largely unremarked and largely uncommented on. The war has multiple fronts and not all are in the US. Brexit is one front and the now sequestered counterintelligence report on Russian financing, support, and interference in Brexit, by order of the Prime Minister and/or his senior staff, is a Damoclean sword hanging over the upcoming British elections. Russia’s ongoing low intensity kinetic, information, and political warfare operations in Ukraine is another front. As are Russia’s similar operations in Syria and Libya. The PRC’s Belt and Road initiative is a diplomatic, information, intelligence, and economic warfare operation, as is their information, intelligence, and economic warfare operation against the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong is part of this new world war. As is the President’s ongoing unearned fulfillment of items on Bibi Netanyahu’s wishlist is another front.

The US front, however, has one very specific center of gravity: the President and the Republican Party. Or, perhaps, more accurately stated, voting the President out of office in the 2020 election, holding the majority in the House, flipping the Senate majority, maintaining the state houses and legislatures currently in Democratic hands, and flipping as many as possible is the strategic objective of the 2020 elections. That’s it. Everything else, from revising how health care is funded and delivered to how college is paid for to fixing the tax code to repairing our relations with our allies and partners to seriously addressing climate change to shoring up the aging post World War II and post Cold War globals system, are all, at the Federal level, dependent on limiting the President to one term, maintaining the majority in the House, and flipping the majority in the Senate.

Talk of comity, of reaching across the aisle, of bringing America together again, is completely delusional as a matter of practical reality. Given what we saw today on Capitol Hill, it is probably becoming pointless even as a matter of telling voters the sorts of pleasing fairy tales they wish to hear.

Consider what we are up against:

Welcome to North Korea, with better shopping.

To the very limited extent that events like tonight’s debate have any value, that value may be in giving some indication of which of these candidates are willing to address straightforwardly our actual situation, and to make clear that they understand this situation is not one that calls for half measures.

Related: 2:22 to 4:01 of this is pretty much a homicide:

https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4832069/representative-maloney-chides-ambassador-sondland-forthright

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