From Politico, big donors ready to reward Republicans for tax cuts: The checkbooks are open again, just in time for a challenging midterm election cycle. “The Republican Party in Washington in 2018 is a gangster capitalist enterprise operating for the financial benefit of its patrons”. “The Republican Party is a threat to democratic values and the rule of law”: If conservatives want to save the GOP from itself, they need to vote mindlessly and mechanically against its nominees. Anti-Trump Republicans refuse to wake from their dream of a third party. Bill Kristol thinks “people are just too unhappy with the status quo”. Bill Kristol wanders the wilderness of Trump world.

Jonathan Chait on conservatives and the cult of Trump. Donald Trump attacks Democrats not clapping at State of the Union as “treasonous”. Trump takes aim at public trust in democratic institutions. “Cultivating distrust in institutions that are designed to play a neutral, mediating role is one of the central functions of conservative politics. It is a game that conservatives know how to win, because they are waging asymmetric warfare. There is no good way for an institution to withstand partisan attack when its existence relies upon maintaining some distance from partisanship”. Russell Muirhead and Nancy Rosenblum on the new conspiracists: Conspiracism has traveled from the margins to the mainstream, infusing public life and altering the bounds of what is acceptable in democratic politics.

Under Trump, the United States has joined the sad roster of backsliding democracies. How wobbly is our democracy? Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt wonder (and more and more). The problems in American democracy run far deeper than Trump: Ezra Klein reviews How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt. When you strip away the details, there’s not much to say about Trump. Trump’s corruption of the American republic: Roger Cohen on the danger of lowered expectations and the ever more frequent shrug. The Trump Show is addling our brains and blinding us to what matters. Fix this democracy — now: 38 ideas for repairing our badly broken civic life.

How do we explain this national tragedy? T.J. Stiles on 400 years of tribalism, genocide, expulsion, and imprisonment. America’s crisis of courage: Character remains the issue that confronts us in almost every story about national politics today. How America lost its mind: The nation’s current post-truth moment is the ultimate expression of mind-sets that have made America exceptional throughout its history. Is America in a period of moral decline? John Biguenet on summoning the resolve to call out evil wherever it lives. Is America (really) collapsing? Umair Haque on the essence of prosperity and decline. Is the American idea doomed? Not yet — but it has precious few supporters on either the Left or the Right. Is this our moment of decline? Lessons from Rome before the fall.