It’s been amply established that Donald Trump represents a clear and present danger to the republic. The latest evidence of this came when Lesley Stahl revealed Trump openly admitted his attacks on the media were a deliberate attempt to discredit anyone who dared hold him to account. Given the existential threat that Trump represents, common sense would dictate that the effort to combat this threat would have to be bipartisan, and would have to start forming early ahead of the 2018 midterms and the 2020 presidential election.
It looks like several people on both sides of the aisle are finally realizing this. The New York Times reveals that there is a growing web of bipartisan alliances between Democrats and “Never Trump” Republicans aimed at combating a president whom they see as a threat to democracy itself.
For some time, Democrats have been cheering the few Republicans who are still willing to openly combat Trump. But many of these Democrats–including a number of prominent donors, as well as veterans of the Obama White House–have gone beyond just offering moral support. They have held a series of email exchanges and off-the-record meetings with Never Trumpers.
The participants–especially the Republicans–have had to tread lightly, given stories like this.
But one of the Republicans involved in the effort, Jerry Taylor of the Niskanen Center, a moderate Republican think tank, isn’t daunted at all. He put it simply–“there’s no reason” that a Republican who opposes Trump shouldn’t be willing to work with a Democrat who shares a common concern about the threat Trump represents.
Taylor is putting action behind his words. His Niskanen Center hosts a semi-monthly gathering called “Meeting of the Concerned.” The attendees are mostly Never Trumpers like veteran commentator Bill Kristol and former House Republican Policy Committee chairman Mickey Edwards. But a number of Democrats have contributed research and analysis as well, such as former Obama White House counsel Ian Bassin. Taylor is one of several Republicans who serve as advisers to Protect Democracy, a watchdog group founded by Bassin.
Democratic fundraiser Rachel Pritzker has been the driving force behind Patriots and Pragmatists, an informal bipartisan coalition that has held gatherings in the Bay Area, New York City, and Washington. Attendees on the Democratic side included Rob Stein, who helped co-found the liberal Democracy Alliance with Pritzker, and Bassin. On the Republican side, they included Taylor, Kristol, Jennifer Rubin, Benjamin Wittes, Evan McMullin, and Mindy Finn. Another gathering is slated for June, and is reportedly due to attract its biggest attendance to date.
In February, Protect Democracy teamed up with McMullin and Finn’s twin organizations, Stand Up Republic and Stand Up Ideas, to host a two-day “National Summit for Democracy. It brought together Trump foes from both sides of the aisle to discuss how to combat foreign interference in elections and Trump’s frequent attacks on the press, among other things.
The bipartisan efforts are already bearing some fruit. When the Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill intended to protect Robert Mueller’s investigation, it bore the fingerprints of many of this informal network’s members. The groups are already preparing to coordinate nationwide protests in case Trump tries to obstruct the Mueller probe.
This effort is reminiscent of how virtually the entire French political spectrum united in 2002 and 2016 to stop the National Front at the gates. One has to wonder–if the American political spectrum had come together in similar fashion to combat Trump in the 2015-16 cycle, would we be in this position today? Better late than never, though.
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