By Daily Caller•
The left loves to hate on those who speak truths they’d rather not hear. Elon Musk was once their darling until he came out for free speech. Extremists also hate Tucker Carlson, the popular news and opinion host at Fox News, because he has been particularly effective in pointing out the hypocrisy, inconsistency and outright insanity of the far left. They want his show cancelled and him silenced. They’ve even staged protests at Tucker’s home in hopes of intimidating his family. That is how the left works — notice the recent protests at the homes of Supreme Court justices.
Despite all the hate from the left, Tucker Carlson and the ideas he advocates had a very good night this past week in Ohio. One doesn’t have to agree with every opinion expressed by Tucker — he’s expressed literally thousands and thousands of opinions, so it would be normal to have some differences with even like-minded people. But no one can deny that Ohio’s primaries showed that Tucker is on to something big and that conservative, America-first ideas are popular.
Ohio is broadly seen as a bellwether because the state has historically been representative of the nation’s voting patterns in several ways. So what do the Ohio GOP primaries tell us? Twenty-two out of 22 candidates who represented a conservative, America-first political approach won in the primaries. Additionally, GOP voters outnumbered the opposition by 2 to 1 in the US Senate primary. Simply stated, the Make America Great Again (MAGA) approach batted a perfect one thousand and energized voters, proving that the MAGA agenda is far more supported than the Left is willing to admit.
Tucker was also the first major supporter of J.D. Vance’s Senate candidacy — a political newcomer who easily won the GOP primary. While Vance garnered other endorsements, including Trump’s, most came at the last minute, and Tucker’s early support helped build Vance’s support and credibility. Tucker’s endorsement of Vance not only hit back at the left but also dealt the more establishment, anti-MAGA Republicans in the state who had endorsed more moderate candidates a stinging defeat.
The left continues to contend that a conservative, America first economic and foreign policy doesn’t represent what most Americans think and that while Donald Trump may have been the president from 2017 to 2021, he only won because of the so-called Russian collusion. And as a result, he wasn’t that popular and his MAGA agenda was illegitimate. But Ohio’s GOP recent primary proves the lie of the left’s absurd propaganda.
While President Trump on occasion alienated voters with his brusk no-nonsense manner of speaking, his policies were actually widely supported. The economy was strong, wages were growing, America and its friends were safer and less threatened by totalitarianism and terrorism.
And while some voters may have assumed that the economic boom and safer international climate were just good fortune before the COVID pandemic struck, the last 15 months have provided a sharp contrast to the good times that the MAGA agenda brought. The evidence has been mounting that while Trump may have offended some, his policies benefitted everyone and made the country freer, more prosperous and more secure. Ohio’s primary results — with record turn out and a strong and consistent showing for MAGA oriented candidates — prove that Americans have woken up to the destructive mischief caused by the left.
Virtually every night, Tucker Carlson is exposing the left and showing that they seem more interested in expanding their power and prestige than in helping make America stronger, freer and more prosperous. So we should expect the attacks on MAGA candidates and Tucker to become ever more shrill and intolerant. The extremists on the left are losing the political debate — being beaten on the airwaves and at the ballot box.
These are very difficult times for the extreme left. Tucker Carlson will continue to draw their ire as one of the most articulate proponents of America First principles. Anyone who effectively advocates for American values can expect to be the target of increasingly shrill attacks and demands that these “dangerous people” with “dangerous ideas” must be silenced.
The extreme left sees time-tested truths and basic facts as dangerous to their political aims. And since they cannot win the debate, they hope to silence their opponents. If you disagree with Tucker or with an America First agenda, that’s your right. But it isn’t your right to silence those with whom you disagree.
Those who seek to silence others are admitting the inferiority of their own ideas and their ability to advocate for them. Those the left seeks to silence are typically the most effective and fact-based advocates of conservative principles. So watch who the extremists on the left attack most vociferously and seek to silence, and you will know who is advocating most effectively for making and keeping America strong, prosperous and free. I suspect that Tucker will continue to be one of those at the top of their list.
In the aftermath of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation to a seat on the United States Supreme Court, there’s a lot still to be said about the way federal judicial nominations are handled. Most of it bad. Like Humpty Dumpty, the process is so badly broken that “all the king’s horses and all the king’s men” may never get it back together again.
Each party blames the other for the breakdown. Republicans, heels dug in, say, “What about Bork?” Equally immovable Democrats respond, “What about Merrick Garland?” Rare these days is the senator who can vote to confirm a high court appointment made by a president of the other party without incurring substantial political problems with the folks back home.
The reasons for this are not just partisan. As the parties have polarized, so too has their view of the proper role of the federal judiciary. Progressives prefer nominees who are “activists” and who consider the public policy implications of what they hand down in addition to or over and above issues of constitutionality. They, like the late Justice William O. Douglas, believe they should be guided by the penumbras currently emanating from the Constitution rather than its text alone, allowing, even requiring them to “make law from the bench” without regard for textual limitations.
Conservatives seek out nominees who feel bound by limitations beyond precedent, including the belief that the words used in the Constitution had a clear, specific, common meaning understood by reasonable people at the time it was written and which are still determinate today. That philosophy of “originalism,” held among others by legendary Justice Antonin Scalia, is best expressed axiomatically as “The Constitution says what it means and means what it says.”
Over time, these diametrically opposite views regarding the role of a Supreme Court justice have turned the confirmation process into something resembling a partisan political campaign. President Joe Biden acknowledged as much Friday at the White House at an event with Judge Jackson following the Senate vote.
“I knew the person I nominated,” he said, “would be put through a painful and difficult confirmation process. But I have to tell you: What Judge Jackson was put through was well beyond that. There was verbal abuse, the anger, the constant interruptions, the most vile, baseless, vile [sic] assertions and accusations.”
Biden must have missed the Kavanaugh hearings. He didn’t miss the Bork or Thomas hearings, though. He was not only present as they were publicly flayed regarding their opinions and had their character assassinated, he presided over them. And each one of them contained more “baseless, vile assertions and accusations” than anything Judge Jackson experienced.
It’s no coincidence the coarseness now infecting the judicial confirmation process started when Biden was chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He knows the role politics plays in the process of getting someone on the federal bench, embracing it when running for president in 1988 and 2020 when he refused to commit for or against a proposal to “pack” the Supreme Court should he win.
This leaves Judge Jackson in an unfortunate position. For the rest of her life, or at least for as long as she is on the Court, there will be just as many people wondering if she was the best choice for the job or if her appointment was simply the most politically expedient for a president who needed to keep a campaign promise.
As far as the Senate vote goes, congratulations are due to the future justice now that she has been confirmed. It is a high honor of which she will hopefully prove herself worthy. There’s reason for concern she won’t, but not the ones you might expect.
Biden won the election. He had every right to pick a liberal, activist judge. If qualified, she should be confirmed despite that. By deciding to focus on what frankly were ancillary matters during her confirmation hearings, the senators on the Judiciary Committee rejected the opportunity to explore just how far outside the mainstream of American legal thought she might be and if any of her views were extreme enough to disqualify her.
Such a reason might exist but was left largely unexplored. In a set of written questions submitted to her by members of the committee, Judge Jackson was asked to explain, in her own words, “the theory prevalent among members of the Founding Fathers’ generation that humans possess natural rights that are inherent or inalienable.”
She answered well at first, explaining this as the being reflected in the Declaration of Independence – some might call it the cornerstone of the entire document – that certain rights come from “our Creator,” as Jefferson put it, and are, therefore, “inalienable.” These include, she wrote the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” and are often referred to as “natural rights.”
This is more than just the mainstream view of the common law, embraced by liberals and conservatives alike for centuries. It is foundational to the American democratic system. When asked if she herself held that view, she replied, “I do not hold a position on whether individuals possess natural rights.”
This is a jarring admission. At least it should be. If our most basic rights like the right to life and liberty do not come from “our Creator,” if they are not inherent, then they can only be made by man. If they are made by man or granted by man, they can be taken away.
Admittedly, there is a difference between having a right and being able to exercise it, which is something Supreme Court justices often must consider in the cases before them: Has an action by the government interfered with an individual’s ability to exercise an inherent right? Judge Jackson’s position was not made clear in a follow-up question seeking to clarify her views.
Instead, she responded evasively, directing those reading her response to her answer to a previous question: “As a sitting federal judge, all of the Supreme Court’s pronouncements are binding on me, and under the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, I have a duty to refrain from critiquing the law that governs my decisions, because doing so creates the impression that the judge would have difficulty applying binding law to their own rulings. Consistent with the positions taken by other pending judicial nominees, it is my testimony that, as a general matter, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the merits or demerits of the Supreme Court’s binding precedents.”
That tells us nothing. It is a subject that those who sought to keep Judge Jackson off the high court should have pursued with greater force. Does she believe we have an inherent right to life and to liberty, or doesn’t she? This is one of the most basic of the many complex issues the justices on the high court are called upon to consider every term. The American constitutional republic is predicated on the notion that the government’s respect for all opinions and people, even those in the minority in any group or on any issue, is a requirement. It can be inferred from her answer that she does not agree and may fall back on that position but only when it is useful to do so in furtherance of her arguments in her writings.
Hopefully, this will not prove to be a real concern. Either she affirms through her writings from the bench that her views are, in fact, in line with the thinking of the Founders or because she will be forever in the minority on the Court on any decision handed down by the Court where belief in inherent rights matters. Elections, as they say, have consequences. Her elevation to the Court is one of them. Something to remember for next time.
Bill would restore voting rights to felons, require states to provide mail-in voting
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) on Monday threatened to scrap the upper chamber’s filibuster to pass Democrats’ controversial election reform bill.
Schumer said the Senate will “debate and consider changes” to Senate procedures by Jan. 17 to overcome the filibuster’s 60-vote threshold, saying Republicans have exploited the rule to “embarrass the will of majority” and block Democrats’ so-called voting rights legislation.
“In June, August, October, and once more in November, Republicans weaponized arcane Senate rules to prevent even a simple debate on how to protect our democracy,” Schumer wrote in a “Dear Colleague” letter. “We must adapt. The Senate must evolve, like it has many times before.”
Schumer’s letter comes as the Freedom to Vote Act languishes in the Senate amid staunch Republican opposition. Without a change to Senate rules, Democrats would need 10 Republicans to back their legislation—a number they have thus far failed to reach.
Sens. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema’s (D., Ariz.) opposition to eliminating the filibuster has stymied previous efforts to alter Senate voting procedures. A group of Democratic senators, however, have in recent weeks tried to persuade the two lawmakers to back reforms that would weaken the vote threshold, according to Politico.
The Democrats’ election reform bill would restore voting rights to convicted felons, require states to offer mail-in voting, and mandate two weeks of early voting, among other measures. Republicans have long opposed the legislation, calling it a partisan power grab.
“This is clearly an effort by one party to rewrite the rules of the political system,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said in March 2021.
At the end of the day, senators care more about protecting themselves and their colleagues from unpredictable, inconvenient floor votes than they do about passing legislation.
Official Washington’s conventional wisdom about the Senate filibuster is a fairy tale. It is utterly unmoored from the choices being made by individual senators, party caucuses, and the body as a whole. Every person who has ever told you that the mean, nasty, outdated legislative filibuster is the source of Senate gridlock and the obstacle to common-sense legislating in Congress has either swallowed, or is peddling, a lie.
In an op-ed in the Washington Post this week, Ethics and Public Policy Center scholar Henry Olsen suggests requiring filibusters to be at least nominally bipartisan as a way of solving the familiar filibuster “problem.” What follows is not a fisking of Olsen, who is a good guy and perhaps the best electoral analyst in America today, but a corrective to the apparently universal pundit-class misunderstanding about what’s really going on inside “the world’s greatest deliberative body.”
The mistake everyone makes is looking at Senate inaction and asking, “How can we change Senate rules so it can start legislating again?” The better question is, “Why did the Senate stop legislating in the first place?”
The answer isn’t “gridlock,” any more than “a car” drove through that parade in Wisconsin. Somewhere along the way, senators’ behavior changed. It’s not a coincidence this happened along the same timeline as the polarization of the parties over the last 30 years. Partisan filibusters were harder, and bipartisan legislating easier when the Senate had dozens of conservative-leaning Democrats and liberal-leaning Republicans.
Before moving inside the chamber, let’s take stock of an important but easily overlooked point: Senate Democrats as a group are much farther left than they were in, say, 1990, and Senate Republicans are more uniformly conservative.
Because pundits and people who read them tend to be consistent ideologues themselves, this kind of polarization seems normal, even enlightened. But all it really means is that both parties in the Senate have drifted away from—abandoned, even—the middle of the country.
The public didn’t lurch left or right. Senate rules didn’t change. Congress is simply less representative of the American people than it used to be. Pew’s well-worn ideological scatter chart from the 2016 election exit polls illustrates the point below.
The sweet spot in American politics would seem to be left-but-not-too-left-of-center on economic issues and right-but-not-too-right-of-center on cultural issues. (I’m conservative on both, for whatever it’s worth.) But today, congressmen and senators tend toward the upper-right or lower-left—the ideological extremes—with elite journalists overrepresented in the nearly empty lower-right: woke private-school parents.
The strike zone for both parties looking to forge a majority, then, should be the upper-left. This would be your pro-lifers for universal health care, men who want only their unions to build the border wall, women who want to raise taxes to build more prisons for pornographers and drug dealers. Such people—real, live, working-class moderates, the sort who decide our national elections—are thin on the ground in Washington, D.C. Indeed, they seem downright unwelcome in both parties.
Nuking the filibuster to establish a majoritarian Senate, in the context of our actual country, would only empower out-of-touch, unpopular, ideological extremists to unilaterally impose their outré elite values on a public that dislikes them. Constitutionally speaking, in the morality play of congressional politics today, the filibuster is the good guy. It’s not the hero we deserve, but the one we need, stopping Republicans from gutting social programs and Democrats from banning guns or red meat.
So, if the Senate’s rules aren’t the cause of Senate inertia, what is? Snarky Washingtonians will say “Republicans.” But that’s silly. Both sides take up the others’ tactics whenever the Senate changes hands. Gridlock is not an external force exerted on the Senate.
Nor is gridlock a condition imposed on it by an uncooperative minority. No, inaction is always a policy choice affirmatively, consciously taken by the majority. “Gridlock” and “obstruction” are weasel words Senate majorities use to duck responsibility for their own decisions.
Contrary to beltway shorthand, passing bills through the Senate doesn’t require bipartisan compromise. It just requires compromise, full stop. There’s a difference. Sixty-vote majorities could be found on almost any issue, any week of any year, through an open amendment process on the Senate floor. Heck, they could call up a blank bill for floor consideration, and let every Senator offer whatever amendment he or she wanted, and before too long, a final bill that could get 60 votes would emerge.
Both parties know this, and refuse to do it. Why? Because an open amendment process—“the wild west,” they call it—would force senators to take amendment votes that would, quelle horreur, lay bare their actual beliefs and policy priorities to their constituents.
That’s it. That’s the whole story of Senate “gridlock.” Not the filibuster, not cloture, not grandstanding, not Donald Trump or “norms,” or “obstruction” or any other nonsense you’ve been told.
At the end of the day, senators care more about protecting themselves and their colleagues from unpredictable, inconvenient floor votes than they do about passing legislation. This, and no other reason, is why both parties now legislate via secret negotiations, followed by an obnoxious, rigged floor process (“filling the tree”) that blocks all amendments except the ones mutually agreed to by the party leaders.
Remember, the amendments this process blocks are not the ones that wouldn’t pass, but the ones that would. Most Democratic senators don’t want to have to vote on popular Republican amendments to, say, curb immigration or protect gun rights. Likewise, most GOP senators don’t want to have to defend a vote against a higher minimum wage or increased spending for children’s health care.
All kinds of bills and amendments could get 60 votes in the Senate today. The problem is, they would be the wrong 60 votes—majorities representing the public as such instead of their party. When the dust settled, lots of incumbents on both sides would invite dangerous primary or general election challengers next time they faced the voters.
A good example of such a bill is the Higher Wages for American Workers Act, introduced by Sens. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and Tom Cotton, R-Ark. It would raise the federal minimum wage to $10 and mandate the “E-Verify” instant immigration-status test for all employers.
To normal Americans, this might sound like a sensible compromise; to Washington insiders, it’s a five-alarm fire. It would be a brutal floor vote, triggering dozens of Club for Growth- or Squad-backed primary challenges and crippling TV ads come November.
If Senate leaders ever opened up the floor, that’s the kind of legislation senators would face: popular, cross-partisan, and career-threatening. Party leaders—always at the behest of their constituents, the senators themselves—see their job as never letting an organic, unchoreographed, cross-partisan majority work its will on the floor on behalf of the American people.
Instead, majorities negotiate bills to get all of their team’s votes plus just enough of the other team’s to pass maximally partisan legislation. To leaders, this is a correct 60-vote majority that, with proper supervision and stage direction, may be permitted to pass bills through the United States Senate.
Ultimately, Senate majorities do not see gridlock as a frustrating, inferior alternative to passing legislation. They see it as a superior alternative to the transparency and accountability that comes with discharging their constitutional responsibilities.
Not convinced? When was the last time you saw a Senate majority of either party really put their shoulder to the wheel to break a partisan filibuster? I don’t mean whining to cable news or talk radio. I mean work: staying in session all night, for days on end, forcing late night attendance, including the sick old men, the cancellation of weekend plans, missing piano recitals and family weddings? Never.
If Senate majorities really want to pass legislation, they could, anytime, through a combination of compromise, transparency, and the exertion of physical energy. This approach has not been tried and found wanting, but found inconvenient and left untried.
Finally, those on the left who think a post-filibuster Senate would help their cause are really missing the forest for the trees here. Senate Democrats are never going to nuke the filibuster to “enshrine Roe’s protections” in federal law, as New York Times columnist Ezra Klein proposed on Twitter yesterday—not because they are weak or deferential to norms, but because Roe is really, really undemocratic.
Even without a red wave election, Klein’s Roe Act would quickly be watered down to a restrictive bipartisan compromise he would hate. And when the next red wave did come, the Democratic Party would be left limping for a generation.
The vast majority of federal policies today rendered untouchable by the Senate’s 60-vote cloture threshold was written between the 1930s and 1960s when even Republicans were proud liberals. Are three years of Roe-lite or some half-baked Green New Deal ramp-up really worth giving President Ron DeSantis, House Speaker Jim Jordan, and Senate Majority Leader Ted Cruz free-rein to rewrite the Great Society and New Deal, the APA, the NLRB, NEPA, civil service, education, and immigration law in one swing?
They would decentralize and defund dozens of power centers within the progressive movement. The left has unimaginably more to lose from a majoritarian Senate than the right.
As a conservative who would welcome lots of those reforms, I nonetheless recognize that our system is built for consensus and stability. In America, it’s ideologues like Klein and me who are the weirdos, not the majority of the country with supposedly less consistent views. It’s good that we never have too much power.
At any given moment, both parties are advancing, on different issues, popular and unpopular ideas. The way the Senate is designed to work is, the popular ideas get creatively cobbled together and passed as consensus compromises. And the unpopular ideas are discarded as slogans for the performance artists in the House.
The only reason this doesn’t happen today is that senators’ real, if unstated, top priorities are personal convenience and partisan positioning. Passing major legislation is a distant second or third. What we see on C-Span2 every day is the majority applying minimal-to-modest effort to pass legislation, and maximal effort to protect their seats and undermine the other side.
The Senate’s rules do not stop it from legislating. It’s the senators themselves, entitled and vain, cowering in the shadows behind the one thing in Washington with the courage to stand up for all of us, simultaneously against the mob and the elite. The filibuster isn’t our hero. It’s a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A dark knight.
Some questions for the national populists
The author and venture capitalist J.D. Vance was a prominent voice on the national-populist right even before July 1, when he entered the crowded primary to replace GOP senator Rob Portman of Ohio. In a speech to the 2019 National Conservatism Conference in Washington, D.C., in appearances on Tucker Carlson Tonight, and in his active Twitter feed, Vance has promoted a “realignment” of conservatism away from libertarianism and toward an agenda that uses government to defend traditional values and improve living conditions for the non-college educated voters at the base of the GOP.
Vance is a leader within that faction of the right which says the conservative movement’s emphasis on individual freedom, and its commitment to the classical liberal procedures and “norms” of constitutional government, is responsible for its apparent failure to preserve the nuclear family, and for its exclusion from mainstream institutions. He is a pacesetter for this trend, which drew energy from Donald Trump’s victory in 2016. And because Vance represents one possible future for the American right, I was eager to read the transcript of a speech he gave last weekend to the Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s “Future of American Political Economy” conference in Alexandria, Va. There is no doubting Vance’s smarts—he graduated from Yale Law School in 2013—or his communication skills. But his text left me with questions.
Vance’s subject was the “American dream.” This is an infamously nebulous concept. Does the American dream refer to a process—the social mobility that allows the adopted son of an immigrant to fly into space on his own rocket? Or does it signify an end-state—the single-family home with a white picket fence in the cul-de-sac occupied by 2 parents, 2.5 children, and a dog and cat? No one really knows. For Vance, the American dream “is about a good life in your own country.” But it is also about being “a good husband and a good father,” who is “able to provide my kids the things that I didn’t have when I was growing up.” It’s a dream that Vance has achieved.
Then Vance contrasts his dream with another dream, a bad dream, the “dream of Mitt Romney.” This American dream, apparently espoused by “establishment Republican politicians,” is a dream of “private jets,” “fancy businesses,” and “a lot of money.” Such an emphasis on material wealth, Vance says, makes most people’s “eyes sort of glaze over.” After all, most people aren’t rich. Most people just “want to live a good life in their own country,” with their spouse and children.
Vance must not be on Mitt Romney’s Christmas card list. Last I checked, the former Republican presidential nominee and current GOP senator from Utah has been married to his wife Ann for over half a century, and has five sons and a countless number of grandchildren. Whatever your disagreements with him—and I have a few—Mitt Romney is a decent, patriotic, and accomplished gentleman who unquestionably has lived “a good life” in his “own country.” Yes, he is quite wealthy. He owns a number of homes. One of them had a car elevator. But it’s not as though Romney made his affluence the basis of his claim to high office.
On the contrary: It was former president Trump who grounded his appeal in 2016 on his “private jets,” “fancy businesses,” television celebrity, and considerable fortune. It was former president Trump who took kids for rides on his helicopter during the 2015 Iowa State Fair, who turned a campaign press conference at Mar-a-Lago into an infomercial for various Trump-branded products, and whose personal life, let us say, could not be more unlike Mitt Romney’s. Yet Vance casts Romney as the bogeyman in this contest of American dreams, and says he regrets voting for someone other than Trump in 2016. What gives? Not only did I end this section of the speech without a clear idea of what the American dream is or who best represents it, I was left wondering what factor other than his opposition to Trump actually prevents Romney from meeting the criteria that Vance sets out.
Vance says that “to live a good life in your own country, you have to actually feel respected. And you have to be able to teach your children to honor and love the things that you were taught to love.” No problem there; I couldn’t agree more. The danger of the culture wars, he goes on, is that the left will force Americans into a posture of regret and shame over their history. The left imposes costs on individuals—de-platforming, ostracization, cancellation—to police retrograde thought and behavior. “That is what the culture war is about.” And he’s right.
Then Vance says that because the only institution conservatives control, on occasion, is government, we ought to use political power to impose costs of our own on “woke capital,” “woke corporations,” and academia. Vance neglects to mention the various counter-institutions that the conservative movement built since World War II to address the problem he describes. Nor does he explain, exactly, how “breaking up the big technology oligarchy” would help men and women like his Mamaw. Even so, the idea that conservatives should use policy to further their conception of the public good is something of a truism. Everybody thinks they are furthering the good. The question, as always, is the means we employ to that end, and whether those means actually work. Government bureaucracy and regulation, for example, are not known for their contribution to human wellbeing (see: Centers for Disease Control). No matter who’s in charge.
At this point, however, Vance makes another statement that left me befuddled. “I’m going to get in trouble for this,” he says, but he goes ahead anyway and asks, “Why have we let the Democrat Party become controlled by people who don’t have children?” Now, he acknowledges, somewhat, that what he is saying is not strictly true: Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, and Nancy Pelosi all have kids, and Biden, Schumer, and Pelosi control the Democratic Party and, at present, the national political agenda. Nevertheless, Vance name-checks Kamala Harris (who has two stepchildren), Pete Buttigieg (who, according to the Washington Post, is trying to adopt), Cory Booker, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (who’s 31 years old). Vance understands, he says, that “there have always been people” who, “even though they would like to have kids, are unable to have them.” He has no problem with this population, he hastens to add, though he never stops to ask whether any of the four Democrats he singled out fall into it.
What bothers Vance is “a political movement, invested theoretically in the future of this country, when not a single one of them actually has any physical commitment to the future of this country.” He says, without supplying any evidence, that the reason the media are “so miserable and unhappy” is that “they don’t have any kids.” The collapse in American fertility, he goes on, is a crisis “because it doesn’t give our leaders enough of an investment in the future of their country.”
I agree that the decline in American birth rates is troubling, that “babies are good,” and that raising children is an indescribably worthwhile, utterly exhausting, and often infuriating experience (I have two). Children join us in that intergenerational compact which Edmund Burke described as the essence of traditionalist conservatism. No kids, no future.
But you know who else doesn’t have children? A lot of conservatives and Republicans. Maybe they can’t have them, maybe they’ll adopt, or maybe life just brought them to a different place. That doesn’t in one iota reduce their dignity as human beings, or their potential to contribute to America’s public life. And that goes for Democrats and independents, too.
William Rusher, the longtime publisher of National Review, never had children. Does his contribution to American politics count for less? Condoleezza Rice doesn’t have kids. Did that stop her from serving her country for eight years as national security adviser and secretary of state? Lindsey Graham has no children. Has that prevented him from unswerving loyalty to President Trump? Pat Buchanan is childless—yet he formulated the arguments that define so much of national populism today.
Indeed, until a few years ago, the 53-year-old billionaire who donated $10 million to Vance’s super PAC had no kids. Should his contributions to political candidates and philanthropic causes during that time be retroactively judged suspect? The assertion that parenthood is somehow a prerequisite for effective statesmanship is nonsensical. It’s also insulting. Great parents can make terrible leaders—and great leaders are often terrible parents.
Vance says that the “civilizational crisis” of declining fertility requires providing additional “resources to parents who tell us the only reason they’re not having kids is because they can’t afford it.” How should we do this? “We can debate the policy details.” But the only specific proposals Vance mentions are Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban’s subsidized loans to married couples who promise to have kids, and the completely fantastical idea of demeny voting, whereby parents vote on behalf of their children. What he doesn’t mention, as one of those sullen, devious, childless journalists pointed out, was either the child tax credit the Biden administration is sending to families as we speak, or the various other child credit plans advanced by Senate Republicans, including—wait for it—Mitt Romney.
How can it be that the same “establishment Republican” who represents such an unattractive version of the American dream also wants to make life easier for the working families in whose name Vance speaks? And while I am asking questions, What evidence is there that government spending can arrest, not to say reverse, a demographic process hundreds of years in the making? What special clarity and insight into the workings of politics do parents possess, and on what basis shall we implement the radical ideas that a Hungarian demographer came up with 35 years ago? What does the substance of Vance’s remarks actually have to do with the everyday concerns of Ohio Republicans? I found it noteworthy, for example, that immigration, crime, and “election integrity” don’t come up until the final paragraphs of Vance’s remarks. The word “inflation” does not appear at all.
Such is the confusion that arises when a movement anchors itself to the personality of one former president, when a movement neglects the principles of political and economic freedom that guided it for so many years. It seems to me that for national populism to have a viable future, it needs to avoid straw men, see its political antagonists not as alien enemies but as fellow Americans, concentrate on the issues voters care about, and clarify its thinking on the relation of economics and culture. Can J.D. Vance accomplish this formidable task? He has until primary day—May 3—to try.
by Aryssa Damron • The Washington Free Beacon
Ken Dilanian, a reporter for NBC News, tweeted on Monday that the idea of North Dakota and New York having the same amount of senators “has to change” because of the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
“It may not happen in our lifetimes, but the idea that North Dakota and New York get the same representation in the Senate has to change,” Dilanian tweeted, linking to a Washington Post article about the confirmation of Kavanaugh. “Senators representing less than half the U.S. are about to confirm a nominee opposed by most Americans”
It may not happen in our lifetimes, but the idea that North Dakota and New York get the same representation in the Senate has to change. “Senators representing less than half the U.S. are about to confirm a nominee opposed by most Americans” https://t.co/DAZWYT9Txg
— Ken Dilanian (@KenDilanianNBC) October 6, 2018
Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement is inarguably a game-changer. It will take some time and depend on who President Donald Trump picks as his replacement to see just how much.
For years now, Kennedy’s been the swing vote on a court closely divided along ideological lines. That only matters infrequently but it’s vitally important when it does, which is why conservatives are jubilant and liberals fearful. Both believe Trump’s next pick will give the court a solid majority composed of five strict constructionists, as they are sometimes called, who would alter American jurisprudence for at least a generation and probably more.
What both sides should remember is there are no guarantees. The right was in relatively the same boat in 1987 when Lewis Powell, a justice appointed by Richard Nixon, stepped down. Like Kennedy, Powell was a swing vote on the Burger Court. It was presumed the man everyone expected to replace him—former United States Solicitor General Robert Bork—would move the court to the right, cementing the victories of Reagan’s Revolution. Continue reading
By Jack Crowe • National Review
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell cancelled the upper chamber’s annual August recess Tuesday, citing the “historic obstruction” of his Democratic colleagues in a statement explaining his decision.
“Due to the historic obstruction by Senate Democrats of the president’s nominees, and the goal of passing appropriations bills prior to the end of the fiscal year, the August recess has been canceled,” McConnell said in the statement. “Senators should expect to remain in session in August to pass legislation, including appropriations bills, and to make additional progress on the president’s nominees.”
Senators were scheduled to depart Washington on August 3 and not return until after Labor Day, just three weeks before the October 1 end of the fiscal year. In order to avoid Continue reading
By David Harsanyi • The Federalist
It looks like Senate Democrats have the 41 votes they need to block the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. This means majority leader Mitch McConnell is almost surely going to use the nuclear option to confirm him. Which is a shame.
We can only assume this is what Chuck Schumer intended. The minority leader knows full well that, one way or another, Gorsuch would be on the court. Perhaps the nuclear option was fait accompli, but with nothing to show for the 2016 election thus far, Republicans need a tangible victory.
Schumer probably also believes Republicans would nuke the judicial filibuster on the next Supreme Court pick, anyway. He’s probably right. So what downside is there for him in forcing the GOP to put the filibuster out of its misery? Continue reading
By Peter Roff • USNews
It’s not clear when the Senate started playing politics with Supreme Court nominations. Some say it’s been that way all along, going back at least as far as the time of Chief Justice John Marshall and Marbury vs. Madison.
Others say the confirmation process only became truly venomous after President Ronald Reagan selected federal judge Robert Bork, a former U.S. solicitor general, to fill a seat that would shift the high court’s delicate balance of power in a rightward direction.
Bork was ultimately defeated, not because he was unqualified for the post – according to the standards in place before he was nominated he could only be described as supremely qualified – but because Senate Democrats feared how he would rule. Continue reading
By Ronald A Cass • USAToday
Smart people often say stupid things. #MistakesHappen. But it takes a certain special orientation to repeat obviously false and ridiculous statements over and over. That’s a talent peculiar to politicians.
This talent is frequently on display during Supreme Court confirmation fights. Since the 1970s, every nominee from a Republican president has been attacked, among other things, as hostile to women’s rights and civil rights.
That includes Harry Blackmun, John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony Kennedy and David Souter — justices who often have been as zealous as any in finding, creating and expanding rights for women and minorities. Constantly being wrong, however, doesn’t prevent the same trope being trotted out as soon as the next nominee is announced. Continue reading
By Gregg Jarrett • Fox News
Some Democrats, still seething over the stalled U.S. Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland, are trying. But their dream of delivering political retribution has, thus far, fizzled. That is not likely to change.
Gorsuch’s credentials are too impeccable, his intellect too keen and his temperament too even to fall victim to the kind of debasement that felled Judge Robert Bork and coined an infamous phrase.
If the Gorsuch confirmation hearings have proven anything, it’s that his opponents have no powder in their guns. Try as they may, there is little in the record of Neil Gorsuch that can be faulted. His rulings have been fair, his legal mind agile, and his fidelity to the law unimpeachable. Continue reading
With the Senate lacking the two-thirds majority it would need to stop him, President Obama will succeed in implementing his nuclear deal with Iran. At this point, barring a miracle, Obama has outmaneuvered the Congress and won that fight.
He has also lost the argument.
For all the millions of dollars they promised to spend influencing public opinion, his allies failed to put a dent in the overwhelming opposition among the American public. The demeaning videos they trotted out featuring vapid celebrities failed to convince the undecided to embrace this deal. Nor could they assuage the glaring problems in its terms for those following closely enough to feel confident expressing an opinion. Continue reading
By John Podhoretz • New York Post
It’s rare for people to celebrate getting 41 percent of anything. If you score 41 percent on a test, you get an F. If you win 41 percent of the vote in a two-person race, you lose. If your tax rate is 41 percent, you’re likely to feel ripped off.
In the matter of his Iran deal, President Obama and his team have spent two months working relentlessly to secure 41 percent — and now they’re claiming an enormous victory even though by any other standards what they’ve achieved is nothing but a feat of unconstitutional trickery.
They worked throughout the summer to browbeat Senate Democrats so they could get 41 of them to say they would support the Iran nuclear deal. They’re up to 42 now — that’s a mere 42 percent of the Senate. Continue reading