Back in the Saddle

Nicco Mele
6 min readFeb 21, 2021

In the noise of the post-election you may have missed my silence. It was unintentional: a broken ankle required significant surgery, and the recovery has been complicated. But I am feeling better — finally, cautiously, walking (with some assistance) — and in the mood to write. Be careful what you wish for…

My wife says it is unbecoming to say “I told you so”, but the last few weeks have been full of “I told you so” moments, cold comfort though they are. Some are lifted right from my 2013 book (the Gamestop madness, hackers capturing essential utilities, corporations creating their own currencies) and some from this newsletter (the fraud of the Lincoln Project, Texas as a failed state, election-related violence, and of course, Rule 1: it will get crazier). At least 8-year-olds are holding NPR accountable for the dearth of dinosaur-related stories.

A long-running theme of this newsletter is the enduring resilience of the Republican Party; those of us nestled in the warm embrace of the coastal media find it quixotic. Lately there has been a lot of talk about a major “schism” or civil war in the GOP. This is ridiculous; I see no evidence of it at all. Quite the opposite, in fact. The GOP is united around Trump and in opposition to anything from Biden or the Democrats.

The entire Trump era — beginning with the announcement he was running for president — has been defined by a failure of imagination about what is possible. Look at the chronology and you can see GOP support consolidating around Trump since November:

  • 126 Republicans backed the Texas lawsuit to overturn election;
  • 138 Republicans voted against certifying PA electoral votes;
  • 199 Republicans voted to protect conspiracy theorist/bigot Marjorie Taylor Greene’s committee assignments;
  • And then the final impeachment vote: overall the pro-Trump GOP vote was 240–17.

Include in this math the voice of the American people: Aaron Blake calculates that Republicans came within 90,000 votes — 43,000 votes for president, 32,000 votes for the House and 14,000 votes for the Senate — from controlling all of Washington. That’s in the midst of a major pandemic and after four years of President Trump.

Nothing about this says “civil war” or portends the collapse/disarray of the GOP. This week, Lindsay Graham is out there saying that McConnell’s speech blasting Trump is a disaster for the GOP and that it is “inevitable” that…



Nicco Mele

formerly of @LATimes & @Kennedy_School - author of The End of Big - lots more at — Opinions are my own and not the views of my employer.