Mitch McConnell
Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Democrats will have some stark choices about what policies to prioritize if they retake the White House and Senate next year. Healthcare is as urgent as ever, climate change is literally an existential crisis for civilization, housing costs are out of control, and so on.

But among the highest priorities must be the preservation of democracy itself.

The Republican Party made a choice over the last three years to sell their own souls and the fate of the country to a morally depraved grifter under the spell of a foreign tyrant. They did this in exchange for some tax cuts and especially for a bevy of judges. Why? Because first, the Republican Party exists to deliver tax cuts to its obscenely wealthy patrons; but second and more important, because the current Republican coalition is literally dying. It will be incapable of winning national elections from here on out absent a major realignment. Republican officials know that implicitly, and have done their best to stack the economy as far in favor of the rich as possible in anticipation of progressive reforms, and to stack the courts with as many Federalist Society extremist judges as possible to derail whatever progressive legislation they can.

There are enormous differences between the Republican Party that overthrew Richard Nixon and the one that defends Donald Trump. But one of the biggest is simply that Republicans knew that if Nixon went away, they would always have another opportunity to win the next time around with a less toxic figurehead. After Trump, Republicans have no such confidence. They have called 2016 (and now 2020) their Flight 93 election for a reason: once Texas, Georgia and North Carolina turn blue–and they will–it’s basically game over for the modern conservative movement at a national level. Once the diverse, progressive Millennials are squarely in their 40s and the dominant voting bloc, the program the GOP has been running since the Civil Rights Act crashes.

So they’ve pulled out all the stops to secure tax cuts and judges, threatening democracy itself to secure them. Which is precisely why they should not be allowed (in addition to the obvious policy reasons) to keep them. Just as prosecutors seize ill-gotten goods of ponzi schemers and mafia lords, so too must the loot taken by the GOP during the Trump era not be allowed to remain in their hands.

Democrats must make clear that the sort of bad faith that conservatives have employed in supporting and defending Trump will not be rewarded now or in the future. The courts must be expanded to eliminate the impact of the theft of the judiciary, and the tax cuts must be repealed and replaced with punitive wealth taxes in exchange.

The Republican Party sold its soul and sold out the country for those judges and tax cuts. Democrats should ensure that those rewards be turned to ash in their hands, even as Republican operatives watch their coalition of bigots and cranks recede from electoral relevance in the years to come.

David Atkins

Follow David on Twitter @DavidOAtkins. David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.