Discussion about how democracy's norms are challenged has been episodic at best in the campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, but it's the very first topic to galvanize those challenging President Trump for the Republican nomination.
All three of his announced GOP opponents are promoting a scathing op-ed column, published under all their names in The Washington Post over the weekend, condemning their party as undemocratic for canceling its presidential nominating contests in four states.
GOP leaders moved this month to cancel the 2020 primaries in South Carolina and Arizona and the caucuses in Nevada and Kansas — assuring Trump gets all the delegates in those early contests and thereby erecting a significant hurdle for his challengers to build momentum for their long-shot bids.
"The latest disgrace, courtesy of Team Trump, is an effort to eliminate any threats to the president's political power in 2020," wrote former Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, former Gov. Bill Weld of Massachusetts and former Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois.
Exultant crusaders against partisan gerrymandering are vowing to hold North Carolina politicians' feet to the fire until the state's legislative maps are drawn more fairly — while also looking beyond the borders. They are hailing a state court's redistricting decision as a landmark ruling with the potential to benefit their cause across the country.
Just 10 weeks ago, the Supreme Court held that the Constitution provides no opening for challenges in the federal courts to even the most brazenly partisan mapmaking. But in a dramatic reversal of fortune for political cartographers — and not just in North Carolina — a bipartisan panel of three judges in Raleigh ruled unanimously Tuesday that the state House and state Senate lines are so contorted to favor Republicans that they violate a broad array of Democratic voters' rights under the state's constitution.
The GOP leaders in the state capital, who have been contesting almost a dozen different anti-gerrymandering lawsuits (some successfully alleging racial motivation) while hoping to keep their district lines intact, announced they were at last conceding defeat. Rather than appeal to the state's top court — a long-shot prospect given its lopsided Democratic majority — they said they would get to work on new maps right away.
"Nearly a decade of relentless litigation has strained the legitimacy of this state's institutions, and the relationship between its leaders, to the breaking point," said Phil Berger, the Republican majority leader of the state Senate. "It's time to move on."
A roster of only 44 campaign donors posted online generated one of the most passionate national debates of the summer on Wednesday — a hot mashup of disagreement about campaign finance, government openness, media ethics and the personal safety of the politically engaged.
The arguments were all the more intense because their backdrop is President Trump's own incendiary rhetoric, which in light of the weekend's twinned mass shootings has seemed to push campaign rhetoric beyond abstractly polarizing into palpably connected to violence.
The fire was lit Monday evening when Rep. Joaquin Castro posted on Twitter a list of his San Antonio constituents who have given the maximum allowable to Trump's re-election campaign this year. "Their contributions are fueling a campaign of hate that labels Hispanic immigrants as invaders," he tweeted.
To be sure, all their names and occupations are readily searchable by the public using the Federal Election Committee's robust online database. And many of them are well known and longstanding advocates for conservative causes and candidates in the biggest majority-Latino city in Texas.