I think they've been aware of this for a while. Probably since well into Obama's presidency. What's changed is that they've gotten to the point in the Prisoner's Dilemma where they've estimated the other side has defected so many times that it makes no sense to stay in the game https://twitter.com/drvox/status/1311388112661045248
I've said this before, but Democrats are in a *particular* dilemma b/c they have two goals: 1. advancing their agenda & 2. upholding democracy. The dilemma arises given the other side can only 1. advance their agenda thru 2. *undermining* democracy.
So I don't see this situation as being one where Democrats are especially naïve as to GOP goals/strategies. I see it more that they were battling on two aforementioned fronts. And were conservative w/r/t the second (upholding democracy)
But we are now at a point where the GOP has defected too many times, so the rules change for the Democrats. Upholding democracy now might involve more extreme measures, given the level of defection from the GOP.
Maybe Democrats should have reached this point earlier. But I don't think it was out of naïvé re: the GOP's motives that they did not.

The shift is not one of ignorance to knowledge. It is one from one form of protecting democracy to another, given too many defections.
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