Friday, March 16, 2018

Cannot Ignore The Culture War

Steve M. demolishes the major points of David Brooks' op-ed in The New York Times, in which the veteran columnist warns that progressives may drive the Democratic Party to "become the mirror image of your opponent,"   Donald J. Trump. Brooks celebrates the victory of House Democratic candidate Conor Lamb because he is, in Brooks' view, centrist and highly moral.  He also argues

There’ll be a tendency this year to nationalize each of the congressional races, to focus on Trump and not the country’s actual problems, to push the tribal hot buttons that excite the passionate Resistance in the great culture war.

Oddly, Brooks differentiates between focusing on Trump and focusing on "the country's actual problems."

But President Trump is exacerbating those actual problems, in some case having little to do with his personal immorality, prompting resistance without pushing those tribal hot buttons Brooks denigrates. One method is through packing the federal judiciary with judges who threaten what Nan Aron of the Alliance for Justice notes is the "legal and social progress of decades" gained over decades for women, ethnic minorities, sexual minorities. Further, they are likely to erode "critical protections' won in the courts "for the health and safety of the public and the environment."

Among the "woefully unfit appointees," Aron recognizes, of President Trump are

John Bush, confirmed this year to a seat on the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, who blogged anonymously for years, spreading racist birther theories about President Obama and mean-spirited attacks against Obama, LGBTQ rights, and an assortment of people and positions he disliked.

A nominee in North Carolina, Thomas Farr, appears to have misled the Senate Judiciary Committee about his role as a lawyer for Jesse Helms’s Senate campaign, in one of the sleaziest voter-suppression scams ever perpetrated: a mass mailing of postcards to African-American voters warning that they might not be legally registered to vote and could be prosecuted for voter fraud. His nomination remains on track.

In a climate in which harassment of women in the workplace is in the national spotlight, Don Willett, just confirmed to the 5th Circuit, harbors attitudes that cause deep concern.

While working in Texas state government, he aggressively belittled problems faced by working women, ridiculing “talk of ‘glass ceilings’” and dismissing concerns regarding “sexual discrimination/harassment.”

Willett carried his hostility to the Texas Supreme Court, where, as a justice, he ruled to weaken laws that protect women against discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.

It’s not just the quality of nominees that has suffered. This administration and GOP-led Senate have taken a wrecking ball to norms that governed the nomination process for decades.

Bipartisan consultation with nominees’ home-state senators is dead. The hundred-year-old “blue-slip” tradition, giving home-state senators the go-ahead for nominations to proceed, was just junked.

Likewise, the ratings produced by the American Bar Association no longer count: this administration pushed four nominees rated “Not Qualified” by ABA evaluators. In past administrations, such ratings would typically force a candidate out of the running; not today, when the administration and its allies exclusively seek party loyalists, preferably in early middle age, who will sit on the bench for decades.

The man who became President is one to whom Brooks believes Democrats should turn- if not a blind eye- a sight-impaired eye- launched his dramatically successful campaign with

When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems.…They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists, and some, I assume, are good people.

Arguably, his campaign became even more hateful and bigoted, less truthful, and more focused on generating fear and anger. It is Trump, first as candidate, then as President, who has brought the cultural war to the fore, not the least by nominating only those judges approved by the right-wing Heritage Foundation and Federalist Society. Elizabeth Warren understands

the importnace of having a Democratic Party that stands for something- a Democratic Party that isn't just willing to take on a fight when it comes to- a Democratic Party that picks fights, a Democratic Party that makes people across the country say "I want to get out there and vote."

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