16 October 2018

What should we do about the Republican power plays when (if) we regain power?

A friend sent out an email to his "group" posing the rhetorical question, just how aggressive should Democrats get, in light of the hyperagressive, norm-destroying power politics being played by Republicans ever since Gingrich. (I'm paraphrasing liberally). Here's my response. 

My view on this very important question will surprise no one who's read what I've had to say on this subject before. I think we lost something when we lost the "meta-stable" system of norms that kept especially the Senate working with a certain amount of give and take and civility for more than a century (think of the cooperation between Orrin Hatch and Teddy Kennedy, or the way Everett Dirksen cooperated with Democrats in the 1960s to pass Medicare, Civil Rights, Voting Rights, etc. ) But pretending we're going to get that back any time soon is a fool's errand. The Republican party has been entirely taken over by power politics players, who care nothing for anything but their own power, and that of the elite class of economic oligarchs whom they represent. Ideology, even, which we who care deeply about public policy tend to overemphasize, is less important to them than raw power. They want to restrain government from infringing on their ability to control most of the wealth in this country, and they care virtually nothing for good government or social justice. They will lie, cheat, steal, suppress votes, burn down unwritten laws, take advantage of every quirk of law and the Constitution to maximize their power, and see to it that justices who think like them control the courts... all to the end of destroying and defeating what they see as a threat to their power. (Because it is). Which, that is, is democracy. The oppose democracy and intend to destroy it in our country. And think about it a bit. They have already come very close to succeeding on all fronts. We are fighting a rear guard action. We hope to be able to recoup and advance, and take it all back... but it requires an awful lot of optimism to think our chances are better than fair. 

So, hell, yes. We must do absolutely everything we can, including playing power politics better than they do, to defeat them and burn their anti-democratic faction to the ground. Don't worry, they'll rebuild a coalition on the right. No worries there. But to avoid the permanent takeover of oligarchy, we must defeat them everywhere. 

So, I favor using every trick we can think of. Sue, try to outlitigate them. GOTV, and win back the House and Senate. If we can't do that, and no later than 2020, all will be lost. Once in power, increase the judiciary, including the Supreme Court. Make PR and DC states. Pass the NPVC (look it up) in enough states to nullify the Electoral College's undemocratic impact. Kill the filibuster once and for all. Consider very seriously rethinking the power of the legislative branch to determine what the courts have jurisdiction over, to make sure they can't use the Kavanaugh court to hobble all progressive legislation. (Don't think that's not their plan... they already have a case out of TX that would've been considered crackpot ten years ago but which is all too likely to result not only in important provisions of the ACA being declared unconstitutional, but which may be used by them to establish a precedent that the Federal government cannot enact universal health care). And, of course, hit the ground running. In 2021, if (and we'd the hell better), we have both houses and the presidency, we should pass, within 90 days, a raft of progressive legislation that will make the first few months of the FDR administration in 1933 look like a boating party. 

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