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MATTHEW BOOSE: The Democratic Party embraces the mob
Speaking with CNN this week, Hillary Clinton said it was time for the left to stop being civil.
“You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about,” Clinton said. “That’s why I believe, if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and or the Senate, that’s when civility can start again.”
This is, of course, the same woman who complained about the electoral college when she lost the presidential election.
There’s a pattern here, and it’s more than Hillary being a sore loser.
Whenever the left suffers a significant setback — and Kavanaugh’s confirmation was their biggest in two years — they move to discard institutional and normative barriers to the unbridled will of the majority. In 2016, it was the electoral college. In post-Kavanaugh America, it’s civility and due process — and for some, the Senate or even the Supreme Court itself.
The left’s view of history as an arrow pointing toward ever greater “progress,” equality, and democracy gives moral authority to their attacks on these limitations. The necessity of making constant progress provides carte blanche to do anything to win.
To further justify removing these limitations, the left pretends to speak for everyone rather than their own factional interest. Since, Hillary says, the GOP is an “ideological party that is driven by the lust for power, that is funded by corporate interests who want a government that does its bidding,” civility needs to be suspended.
But the Democratic Party can also be described as a corporate-friendly, ideological party driven by a lust for power. This is the language of partisan interest invested with the false authority of a democratic “we” that excludes half the country.
Claiming the mantle of democracy, the Democrats define themselves as “the people” — the one, true party of democracy — to justify rolling back the barriers to their power. Those barriers also include institutions like the Supreme Court, at least in times when the left doesn’t control them.
The Democrats have long seen the Supreme Court, a non-democratic institution, as just another means of progressing toward their vision of democracy. They have become so vicious over Kavanaugh because his confirmation poses a threat to their ability to legislate the mob’s will from the bench, an ironically undemocratic ambition.
For the left, Kavanaugh’s confirmation is a loss comparable with the 2016 election, and as with the election, the Democrats have accused Republicans of corrupting the Supreme Court, just as they blamed the electoral college and Russian trolls for undermining the integrity of the election to avoid accepting defeat.
Hillary said the Republicans “demeaned the confirmation process” and sullied the Supreme Court’s integrity.
This argument not only overlooks everything the Democrats did to politicize the nomination; it also glosses over the Democrats’ view of the Supreme Court as a pragmatic tool rather than a pure institution. Their problem is not that the Supreme Court has degenerated, but that they lost control of it.
When they lose, the Supreme Court and the electoral college are suddenly illegitimate. The left casts anything that stands in the way of their power as undemocratic and therefore invalid.
But Kavanaugh was voted in, and the senators who voted are vulnerable to their constituents. This is only the case because of democratic rules already in place. Without the 17th Amendment allowing direct election of senators, the ugly battle over Kavanaugh would probably have been avoided.
Some on the left have argued that direct election of senators isn’t enough, chafing at the equal representation that small states and big states have in the Senate. Presumably, they would be happier with a single-chamber congress: a mega House of Representatives.
But like the electoral college, the Senate is a specifically non-democratic chamber meant to protect the minority. These Democrats want to change the rules for the same reason they want to abolish the electoral college: power.
As the Democrats continue to despair over their lack of political power, they find it harder to not embrace the mob. Months ago, calls to harass political enemies were confined to the party’s fringe. Since Kavanaugh was confirmed, though, even mainstream Democrats and would-be presidents are expressing it. Eric Holder joined Hillary, saying, “When they go low, we kick them.”
The same media that lit the fire is also fueling the flames. CNN and MSNBC won’t even call the mob by its name.
Over the past several weeks, Republican senators have been doxxed, violently threatened, and chased out of restaurants. This comes after conservative lawmakers have already been shot and left with broken ribs.
It’s pedantic to point out, but America is a republic, not a democracy. The founders were careful to build a system that balanced the will of the majority with the rights of the vulnerable minority. Civil protections like due process and institutional hedges like the electoral college exist to protect people from the mob.
The Democrats are setting fire to the constitutional and civil principles of American society for power. Going into the midterms, Trump is right to depict the battle between Republicans and Democrats as a war between the rule of law and the anarchy.
It’s effective rhetoric because it’s true. More so than ever since its founding by Andrew Jackson, the Democratic Party has become the party of the mob.
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