Opinion | What if America Gets a Divorce? And Other Final Election Predictions

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With just days left until Election Day, Michelle and Ross are joined by the Time magazine columnist and senior editor of The Dispatch, David French. Together, they revisit last year’s conservative brawl over “David Frenchism,” give the Lincoln Project more airtime than it deserves, and debate the impact Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation will have on the religious conservative vote. All three make their election predictions, including in some surprisingly competitive Senate races.

Then, how likely is the re-election of Donald Trump to spur the dissolution of the United States as we know it? David makes the case for a relatively bloodless “Calixit,” and Michelle prefers a “velvet divorce” to a violent civil war. But how likely is either?

And finally, David recommends what “may be the last unifying piece of pop culture left in the United States of America,” available now on Apple TV.

Background Reading:

“The Argument” David Frenchism debate episode from June 20, 2019

Adam Serwer, The Atlantic: “The Cruelty Is the Point”

Ross on the temptation against NeverTrumpism, “David Frenchism,” and why there will be no Trump coup

Michelle on women pushing back against Trump and Republican bad faith about the Supreme Court

David French’s book, “Divided We Fall: America’s Secession Threat and How to Restore Our Nation”

The Ringer: “How on Earth Is ‘Ted Lasso’ Actually Good?”

How to listen to “The Argument”:

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Ross Douthat

I’ve been an Op-Ed columnist since 2009, and I write about politics, religion, pop culture, sociology and the places where they intersect. I’m a Catholic and a conservative, in that order, which means that I’m against abortion and critical of the sexual revolution, but I tend to agree with liberals that the Republican Party is too friendly to the rich. I was against Donald Trump in 2016 for reasons specific to Donald Trump, but in general I think the populist movements in Europe and America have legitimate grievances and I often prefer the populists to the “reasonable” elites. I’ve written books about Harvard, the G.O.P., American Christianity and Pope Francis, and decadence. Benedict XVI was my favorite pope. I review movies for National Review and have strong opinions about many prestige television shows. I have four small children, three girls and a boy, and live in New Haven with my wife. @DouthatNYT

Michelle Goldberg

I’ve been an Op-Ed columnist at The New York Times since 2017, writing mainly about politics, ideology and gender. These days people on the right and the left both use “liberal” as an epithet, but that’s basically what I am, though the nightmare of Donald Trump’s presidency has radicalized me and pushed me leftward. I’ve written three books, including one, in 2006, about the danger of right-wing populism in its religious fundamentalist guise. (My other two were about the global battle over reproductive rights and, in a brief detour from politics, about an adventurous Russian émigré who helped bring yoga to the West.) I love to travel; a long time ago, after my husband and I eloped, we spent a year backpacking through Asia. Now we live in Brooklyn with our son and daughter. @michelleinbklyn

“The Argument” is a production of The New York Times Opinion section. The team includes Alison Bruzek, Phoebe Lett, Elisa Gutierrez, Vishakha Darbha, Kathy Tu, Kate Sinclair, Paula Szuchman and Isaac Jones. Theme by Allison Leyton-Brown.

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