I have trouble being able to think anything about politics other than it is so toxic that the worst get on top by default.  Perhaps it is that bad, according to Salena Zito.
One of the most common complaints heard on the campaign trail in 2016 was this: Of all the inspiring, hardworking, bright men and women in this country, how did it come down to a choice between two people who were not exactly the paragons of virtue?

The answer two years ago was that people in this country had such a low viewpoint of government and institutions, it was hard to get good people to be willing to be involved because they lacked faith to get involved. In retrospect, two years ago may seem like a kinder, gentler time. Today, given that character assassination comes first, and facts come later, why would any good person jump in?
Perhaps, though, the brawlers are there because the voters have been hard done by.  That's Michael Graham's claim, in Boston's Herald.
When picking a Supreme Court nominee devolves into investigating his high school yearbook; determining when he lost his virginity; and a porn star’s attorney with last-second accusations of a gang-rape club 34 years ago — when you turn politics into the WWE, can you be surprised when voters want the “Manhattan Mauler” on their side?

Now do you understand why people like my evangelical parents and longtime “principled conservatives” tossed their principles and backed a rude, foul-mouthed fighter­ like Donald Trump? They knew how ugly the fight was going to get.
Yes, call voters "deplorable" and then use every point of leverage to get your way, Constitutionality be hanged: it's not the American Way to just sit and take it.  "Democrats turned politics into a bare-knuckle, blood-letting cage match — so the GOP went out and got themselves a fighter."

Rich Lowry reinforces.
The attempted political assassination of Brett Kavanaugh is bad for the country, but good for a Trumpian attitude toward American politics.

The last-minute ambush validates key assumptions of Trump’s supporters that fueled his rise and buttress him in office, no matter how rocky the ride has been or will become.
But while the Democrats and their allies in the academic-entertainment-media complex change the rules to suit themselves and antagonize Normals, there are people who might be tempted to vote Democratic who are also displeased.
There is not, and has never been, a unified, hierarchical resistance in the United States – nor should there be. There are simply millions of Americans who know they deserve better. It is less a resistance than an insistence that privileged impunity will no longer stand. If there is a unifying theme, it is against corruption – a rallying cry for white-collar crime to finally be punished, a repudiation of policies that steal from the poor to line the pockets of predators. There are those who rage at senators who wish to promote a man repeatedly accused of sexual assault to the highest court in the country. That is not normal, and the resistance – regular people who ask for simple checks and balances on power – won’t stop fighting against it.
Perhaps it's simply rage that the Credentialed Elite runs things so poorly.  Author Sarah Kendzior sees a more general institutional failure, but on whose watch did that failure occur?
In 2017, democracy was defenestrated through the Overton window, as an administration run on alternative facts attacked the very concept of truth. The brazen lawlessness and audacious corruption of the Trump administration shocked many, but less so the residents in my state of Missouri, where decades of dark money and dramatic political strife had long prepared citizens for the worst.
Eventually, we'll come to regret the day putting truth in air quotes got out of the philosophy workshop.  But although she's of the left, this observation could be straight out of Pajamas Media.
Every time I leave St. Louis for a wealthy coastal city, I feel like Katniss in The Hunger Games leaving District 12 for the Capitol. It’s not a feeling I had much before 2008, but the recession had created such an enormously unequal recovery that it was noticeable in ways beyond sticker shock. “Your billboards sell things,” I said in wonder to an L.A. friend driving me down the busy Sunset Strip, where products and TV shows were advertised instead of drug rehabs or Jesus or simply blank space.
Yes, and there are tensions between the Democrat elites and the Democrat base.
The audiences in Los Angeles and New York were as concerned about the decline of democracy and erosion of rights as people back in St Louis. They had their own economic plight, better hidden; gentrification instead of abandonment; debt instead of deprivation. They had their own sleazy politicians. Their perception of progressivism was skewed by living in solidly blue states, where the question was not whether politics would move to the left but how far to the left it could go, but they organized in much the same way activists in Missouri did, and their efforts received similarly little attention from the national media. Once again, the bulk of activists I met were women.
She concludes, though, with a remark that might not be out of place in Reason.
But when you look at the landscape of 2018, what you are left with is a seemingly consolidating autocracy, steadily eroding checks on its power – having captured the executive and legislative branches, it now threatens to devour the judiciary – while facing off against millions of opponents waging small, local battles against corruption and cruelty. There is no unifying figure; nor is it wise to seek one. There is no easy solution; nor is it wise to feign one. There are only people who deserve better, and people fighting on their behalf.

Over and over, I have heard from people whose lives were turned upside down by the Trump administration in horrific ways, as well as those who have turned their own lives upside down to help them. That is the chaos of a country forced to surrender its delusions, but refusing to surrender its soul. We will never be the same America; none of us are the same people we were before November, 2016. All we can do is choose to be better. Unlike in so many other things, at least in that we have a choice.
Yes, and note that whatever consolidations the Trump style Republicans accomplish will be consolidations available to any other style of Republicans, or any style of Democrats.

Let's note, though, that any attempt to identify consensus on what "be better" looks like is probably futile.

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