So Long, Mr. Trump

Democracy in Danger / Episode 17

Anti-Trump demonstrators took to the streets of New York City the day after Election Day last week to chant, “Count every vote!” Meanwhile, President Trump urged his supporters to rally around stopping the count — but only in those swing states where his apparent lead dwindled and vanished as millions of mail-in ballots were tallied.

Photograph by Micah Casella via

What has this election revealed about the strengths and weaknesses of democracy in America? Has the U.S. electorate rejected Donald Trump’s authoritarianism, or did this referendum merely diagnose a festering disease that will continue to linger?

President Trump is calling for recounts and crying voter fraud while the Biden transition team roars to life, laying the groundwork for action on key issues like climate change, the pandemic and economic reignition. But our guests this week say America’s democratic institutions will continue to buckle if political leaders and citizens alike don’t take bold action to strengthen — and alter — them.

This time on the show, Will and Siva assess the outcome of America’s national stress test with commentators Jamelle Bouie and Dahlia Lithwick. Hear what they have to say about an increasingly conservative and powerful judiciary, the complicated business of analyzing exit polls, audacity, empathy and more. Plus, they offer some advice to the incoming administration. Hint: Don’t be chicken.



About our guests

Jamelle Bouie is a New York Time columnist and political analyst for CBS News. He covers history, campaigns and American culture. Bouie previously worked at Slate and The Daily Beast, and has held fellowships at The American Prospect and The Nation. Check out his photography, and follow him on Twitter @jbouie.

Formerly a law clerk and family lawyer, Dahlia Lithwick writes about the courts and the law as senior editor for Slate; and she is a contributing editor at Newsweek. Lithwick also hosts the legal podcast Amicus. Follow her on Twitter @dahlialithwick.

This episode was recorded on Nov. 9, 2020, and posted the following day.

What we’re reading

By our guests

Last week Bouie argued that the country failed to repudiate Trumpism and called into question some demographic truisms about American voters.

Together with Mark Joseph Stern, Lithwick says Joe Biden’s agenda will face an uphill battle against — probably — a GOP-controlled Senate, not to mention more than 200 Trump appointees on the federal bench.

Lithwick also warns of the danger of Trump’s lies and baseless claims about the election, especially given how close the outcome was.

Do you think Donald Trump is an anomaly in U.S. political history? Bouie doesn’t. Read why he sees Trump’s behavior as only more candid that that of past presidents, and America as a whole.

From around the web

This piece from Peter Nicholas in The Atlantic considers the ways in which Trumpism will mark American politics for the foreseeable future, despite the president’s defeat at the ballot box.

What can Joe Biden do to deliver the goods that Bouie and Lithwick prescribe? David Sirota has some answers in The Guardian.

Tom McTague, meanwhile, says “Joe Biden Won’t Fix America’s Relationships” in this commentary on foreign policy in the post-Trump era.

Why did the Democratic Party lose ground with Latino voters in Florida but grow its Hispanic base in Arizona and Nevada? Wrong question. First we have to understand why “Latino” and “Hispanic” are problematic ethnic categories.

Last month, Osita Nwanevu argued in The New Republic that “The Constitution Is the Crisis,” saying the Supreme Court should never have been given the ultimate word on the document’s meaning. (This is the essay that inspired Bouie’s point on the show about the audacity of the American founders: maybe what they dreamed into being was deeply flawed, but at least they had the guts to create something new from scratch.)


A transcript of this episode is available here.


Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.