The Republican plunge into authoritarianism is a trend that predates Trump, and has along virtually the whole of the party. In some ways, its most important manifestations are the least visible: not the insurrectionary mobs, or even the legislators plotting to turn the next election into a crisis. You can see the shift as well in banal statements from colorless figures like Steve Mnuchin.
The former Treasury secretary, appearing on CNBC, was asked if Donald Trump was right that Joe Biden stole the 2020 election. Mnuchin simply refused to answer:
Eamon Javers asked Mnuchin twice, and both times Mnuchin replied to the effect of, Don’t ask me, I just work here. He said he was merely “watching this from the outside,” that “I’m focused on our investments, our business going forward,” and that Trump’s policies were wonderful. He could not bring himself to admit that Joe Biden legitimately won the election and is not the beneficiary of a massive conspiracy.
Mnuchin is significant because he is not a nationalist, not a “populist,” not even an especially rabid ideological conservative. He is as moderate and respectable a figure as you can find in the Trump orbit. He is also wealthy enough not to be financially beholden to Trump’s supporters to make a living.
That Mnuchin cannot admit Biden won the election fair and square shows there is almost no room in the party anymore to respect the most basic democratic norms.