The Progressive Left Just Missed Its Day In Court
The thing you must understand about the modern Democratic party— in particular its impatient, progressive wing— is that the game is up without control of the Supreme Court.
That is to say, if Donald Trump and his Republican allies get their way over the next eight years, the nine-member SCOTUS will find itself tilted 6-3 or even 7-2 in favour of constitutionalists. The liberal, interpretive strain of the Court seen since the 1960s will find itself at an end.
And that, for all practical purposes, will be the end of progressives using the court to impose the bold new world of Barack Obama’s dreams. Or the dreams of Bernie Sanders. Or Elizabeth Warren. Put simply, the U.S. is a centre-right nation, and previous attempts to alter that dynamic have been unsuccessful. While FDR and LBJ and BHO left some furniture strewn about after their administrations, the framework was still made of centrist pine.
Despite the infatuation for Dems on the coasts, in the unionized government bureaucracy and with the entertainment industry, you can’t get to the progressive here from the everyday there. In spite of its tangible assets— and the eight-year love-in with Mr. Obama— people in America are still largely animated by the principles of self sufficiency and self-effacement. For some reason white liberal guilt and identity politics don’t do it for them. (Canada has proved a richer field for this approach.)
If the left cannot use the Congress to enact its platform into law because of all those deplorable, irredeemable Republicans, they have two options. !) Replace the icky Republicans with a whole new voter base imported especially for that purpose.
2) Stack SCOTUS with jurists who favour enshrining progressive views into law. With the court becoming more and more the arbitrator between two incompatible political cultures, a new member who lasts 25-30 years on the court can alter the destiny of the nation.
In the heady days after the 2008 Obama ascendency, it was believed that option 1) might just do it. Flood the voter rolls with ever more “new” citizens, who’ve wandered across the southern border, and you can flip states and the Electoral College. Despite over ten million newcomers, converting these Spanish-speaking, low-skilled folk into a political asset was slowed by the courts and Democratic losses in by-elections.
So Dems took aim at option 2). In the early days of the Obama terms, court-stacking seemed to be working swell, as supposedly right-wing judges like John Roberts started drifting left, allowing the hasty Dems to jam through Obamacare. He was able to name Sonia Sotomayor, who proudly placed her Latina instincts ahead of case law, and another lefty, Elena Kagan.
Plus, there was always the hope one of the right-leaning SCOTUS members might retire or die. Which happened in 2016, when uber-conservative Antonin Scalia suddenly expired. Finding it hard to believe his luck, Obama rushed to nominate Merrick Garland to the empty seat.
There was just one problem. Okay, a number of problems. In their haste to write history, Obama and the silly Democrats lost both houses of the Congress. Because the Senate approves new SCOTUS members this meant King Barry was stuck getting his guy through a hostile room.
Good luck with that. The GOP-dominated Senate discovered some fancy precedents about not confirming a SCOTUS nominee in the last year of a presidency. A few Democrat blabbermouths (you know who you are Chuck Schumer) had also made comments in the past that they wouldn't allow such a thing. The GOP Senate said, “Tough nuts, Merrick, we’ll let the electorate decide in the fall of 2016 which party should appoint the new member of the court.”
You know where this is going. Hillary Clinton blew a sure thing, Donald Trump won the White House, the GOP held the Senate, and now, to the horror of the liberal squishes, a conservative judge named Neil Gorsuch is all but unstoppable in his bid for the bench.
In a season of freakouts for the sensitive souls on MSNBC panels and CNN double-enders, this was the biggest freakout. The last, best route to forcing an agenda on America was suddenly closed for reconstructionists. Gorsuch would restore a 5-4 edge for conservatives on the court. Worse, with two left-leaning justices well into their 80s, there is the prospect of two more Trump choices getting passage to SCOTUS.
So if you’re wondering why the left is in a state of incoherent rage, look no farther than this. The sacred liberal dogma embraced by the media and jammed down students’ throats— abortion, limited free speech, immigration, the redistributive tax system— could be overturned or amended by the mean conservatives who interpret the constitution, not Robert Redford editorials in Mother Jones.
The sense of desperation in San Francisco and DC is evident, as the Dems toss out every fevered conspiracy their Hollywood pals can conjure: The Russians caused Clinton’s downfall. Trump connived with Putin. Trump’s election team is riddled with double agents. Anything but the real reasons they lost 1036 seats in eight years.
Were it not for the Don Lemons of the world (who famously got drunk on air last New Years Eve and lamented his love life) these rejected John LeCarré plot lines would be laughed off the board. But the effect of tape looping the so-far evidence-free allegations on MSNBC— and the diligent efforts of the Obama loyalists in the bureaucracy— has given them oxygen in the D.C,. swamp.
There is now enough detective work happening in Congress, the FBI, the CIA and anyone else with an acronym to supply Dick Wolf with a decade’s worth of Law & Order. It may run longer than the Jerry Orbach episodes of L&O.
Knowing Trump’s penchant for sloppiness they may yet find a quivering soul somewhere on whom to hang a fragment of their Russian fantasy. But they’ll also be splattered with the dirt of Democratic White House spying accusations that may reach as high up as Obama himself.
It makes for great theatre while a stunned world looks on in disbelief as the Democrats try to reverse their November surprise.
But never forget. This is all about SCOTUS. And the death of the progressive’s efforts to rule in perpetuity. How they respond when all the spy thrillers play out and there are six or seven conservatives blocking them at the Supreme Court will be fascinating. And may end up in the streets.
Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy.is the host of the podcast The Full Count with Bruce Dowbiggin on anticanetwork.com. He’s also a regular contributor three-times-a-week to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster, he is also the best-selling author of seven books. His website is Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com)