Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Will Brett Kavanaugh Finally Wake Democrats Up to Reality?

For many Democrats and progressive, the nomination - and likely successful confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is a nightmare come true.  Sadly, however, back in the run up to the 2016 presidential election, far too many Democrats and progressives stayed home or voted for candidates with no chance of winning either as a protest vote or to not sully their alleged principles. Had these individuals been pragmatic and voted for a candidate that could win - Hillary received 3 million more votes than Trump -  as opposed to Jill Stein (a possible Putin asset, in my view) or gotten off their ass and gone to the polls and voted against Trump rather than pouting at home, the nation would not be suffering the ongoing nightmare that has no end in sight.  In 2016, other than Russian interference, the biggest problems for Democrats is far too many Democrats themselves.  A piece in Vanity Fair ask the questions of whether the Trump/Pence/Gorsuch/Kavanaugh nightmare will be enough to get Democrats going forward focused on winning - even if it isn't one's dream candidate - rather than defeating their own long term interest.  Here re article excepts:

For Republicans, moments like this are, for the most part, unifying. Senators who fight about everything else can usually agree on supporting a Supreme Court nominee from a fellow Republican or Democrat. For Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who likes to do most things quietly (ideally sneakily), occasions like this are regrettably high-profile, and a candidate who can be screened and seated quickly would be preferable to one who advances ambitious ideological goals. So it must be a disappointment to him that Trump picked Kavanaugh, a forceful partisan with a long paper trail. As strong as feelings within the conservative movement run, however, the differences among Republicans will be hard to spot when it comes to Kavanaugh’s confirmation fight.
For Democrats, Kavanaugh is enough of a partisan knife fighter to unify them easily in opposition, however futile it might be. They know they’re in the minority, with no power to thwart a united majority, but they see three possible outcomes: a fluke of good fortune (their dream), a battle that backfires on Democrats (their nightmare), or a battle that costs Republicans (their aim).
The fluke of good fortune would be for Kavanaugh to turn out, over the course of hearings, to be such a fiasco of a choice that even Republicans would defect.
The battle that backfired on Democrats would be one that caused them to look so obnoxious in their attacks on Kavanaugh that they lost more support among voters than they gained. Nominees, even the extreme ones, are usually pretty sympathetic, especially when they bring their spouses and children to watch, and Kavanaugh has two young daughters. Raising your voice at daddy and accusing him of all sorts of –isms can look ungracious. While the odds of Democrats overplaying their hand so egregiously is low, those who come from the red states might still be concerned.
A battle that costs Republicans a lot of capital—and this is what Democrats are aiming for—is one that results in a confirmation of Kavanaugh (because it’s unavoidable) but a loss in the great war of public opinion. This is the sweet spot of political combat: the place where your enemy, to appease the base, alienates the majority.
When the president picks a Supreme Court Justice, pressures of simple party loyalty are extreme. For Democrats, therefore, the aim is to accept that senators from less-red states will vote for Kavanaugh but to make them hate every minute of it. They achieve that by winning the narrative—in this case, to go by Chuck Schumer’s groundwork on Twitter, that Kavanaugh will overturn Roe v. Wade and undo all protections for the little guy—and everyone associated with him or her emerges weakened.
These are merely partisan stakes, however. More important to the rest of us is whether the confirmation of Kavanaugh will change American life dramatically. The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin has speculated that Trump’s nominee, whoever it was, would overturn Roe v. Wade and cause abortion to become “illegal in 20 states in 18 months.” Civil libertarians have worried that the president will have more power to detain people without charges, as happened under George W. Bush after 9/11, or that ordinary citizens will have fewer protections against police misconduct or prison abuse.
The trouble is that our bitterest divides are cultural, not economic, and our political system is poorly equipped to manage them. . . . . what does a compromise on abortion or same-sex marriage look like? It’s not the sort of thing that lends itself to the horse-trading of Congress. (If you believe abortion is evil, you don’t want to permit just a little bit of it.) Almost by default, therefore, we throw our social questions to the Supreme Court, as if to unburden ourselves of the mess.
So the fight commences. Already, we can read that Kavanaugh is an extremist and a partisan and a fanatic. Will that narrative work? We’ll see. Meanwhile, Kavanaugh can brace himself for weeks of pummeling. The spectacle will surely be ugly as ever. Given Kavanaugh’s own role in the partisan trenches, he probably deserves it. Maybe the rest of us do, too.

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