I want to share with you three tweets. These are not from fringe figures or random radicals. They are, respectively, from the former Democratic governor of Virginia; the same Women’s March that mobilized millions of mainstream Democrats to march in the streets in cities across the United States; and the National Editor of the Daily Beast.
Here’s the first:
The nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh will threaten the lives of millions of Americans for decades to come and will morph our Supreme Court into a political arm of the right-wing Republican Party.
— Terry McAuliffe (@TerryMcAuliffe) July 10, 2018
Let your Senators know: there is nothing moderate about stripping rights away from women.
TAKE ACTION HERE: https://t.co/ZgYBcswHVZ
— Women's March (@womensmarch) July 10, 2018
And the third:
Forget abortion or same-sex marriage—contraception could be banned under Justice Kavanaugh https://t.co/W8qg7txtFQ
— Justin Miller (@justinjm1) July 10, 2018
Look at the rhetoric. “Millions” of lives threatened. A “death sentence” for thousands. And contraception . . . banned?
Keep in mind, this is for a nominee so mainstream — so much a part of the conventional Republican establishment — that it’s easy to imagine a President Rubio or a President Jeb Bush putting him on the Supreme Court. He’s not remotely radical. His jurisprudence is squarely within the originalist tradition, and the main critique endured during the run-up to his nomination (including from me) was that he was too safe, that the Court needed a bolder choice.
Look, I know better than most that Trump has escalated partisan combat and has exacerbated American polarization. Nothing I say should be construed as minimizing his contribution to our political disease, but our politics are still deeply dysfunctional even when Trump behaves no differently than any other GOP president.
Just in the last year we’ve seen extraordinary overreactions against normal Republican tax plans and normal Republican Internet reforms. During the Obama administration, huge sections of the Republican base — and even the future POTUS — obsessed over bizarre birther conspiracy theories.
This kind of nonsense will always be with us, but it’s important to call it out, reject it, and as much as possible confine it to the fringes. But all too often extremist rhetoric is as mainstream as it gets. That’s a problem now, and it will be a problem long after Donald Trump leaves office.