The crisis isn’t Trump. It’s the Republican Party.

On the Ezra Klein Show: “Anne Applebaum wrote the book on why people choose to collaborate with authoritarian regimes. So what does she think of the GOP?”

Formerly democracy-loving patriots, in places like England and eastern Europe, are often drawn to fascism out of a disappointment with the turn their nation is taking. Indeed, many of them believe that the nation they grew up in has already been destroyed. They see the autocrats as the best way to preserve what remains – or even just burn the whole thing down.

Ordinary people will go along with wrongdoing and comply with unjust laws, out of a belief that they are trying to serve a higher good. Or they’re doing what they can to just get by and protect their families. (I see myself to an uncomfortable extent here.)

One of the more shocking elements of the past five years is how quickly the Republicans caved in to Trump. He is a bully, but he is inept, and the consequences of standing up to him are relatively small. You’d almost certainly lose re-election, and suffer public taunting on Twitter and in the MAGA media, but then you could go on to a good job in the private sector.

And yet people like Lindsey Graham, who despised and denounced Trump in his campaign, have debased themselves to an extraordinary degree.

This trend speaks ominously for what will happen to America when a skillful autocrat comes along, who can have his enemies killed, tortured, and imprisoned.

How does open, fair, government return when autocracy takes over? When the opposition shuns getting into catfights and instead focuses on delivering services and results. Build roads, keep the mail going. Biden seems to understand this – his first address as President-elect was not to gloat or denounce Trump and the Republicans, but to announce his COVID recovery plan.

For myself, I’ve halfway intuited this. I’ve avoided political arguments online for months now, and when I do engage in disagreement, I try to keep it short and listen more than I talk.

Mitch Wagner @MitchWagner