The Morning Jolt

Politics & Policy

Democrats Don’t View Conservative Victories as Legitimate

Anti-Trump protesters march in Seattle, Wash., November 21, 2016. (Reuters photo: David Ryder)

Making the click-through worthwhile: how the rise of Donald Trump, or a Trump-like figure, was inevitable in an age when the Democratic party and its media allies team up to destroy prominent conservatives with unverified accusations; and why our politics are poisoned when one side refuses to ever accept that the other side won a legitimate election victory.

The Post-Kavanaugh Landscape

Over the weekend, the circus left town.

Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to be the next justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, and sworn in. Christine Blasey Ford said she had no interest in pursuing her allegation further. No one ever filed any complaint with the Montgomery County Police Department. Julie Swetnick is left fuming that she has been “re-victimized” and that she “literally put her life in jeopardy” by coming forward. This morning, Michael Avenatti is tweeting about his upcoming appearance at a Harris County, Texas, Democratic-party fundraiser. Elected Democrats are left griping to the public that the Federal Bureau of Investigation helped “cover up” Kavanaugh’s crimes.

Over the past few weeks, the Democrats and their allies in the national media attempted to establish the new standard that an accusation itself was sufficient evidence of guilt in the court of public opinion. The only evidence we have that Kavanaugh ever encountered the three accusers, never mind assaulted them, was their own testimony. All of Ford’s named witnesses said they could not remember the party. Deborah Ramirez claimed that many people witnessed the act she claimed, but Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer could not find any of them. Avenatti and Swetnick described an ongoing series of crimes that would have dozens of victims and witnesses, but none of them ever came forward.

The Democrats and their media allies attempted to set up new rules, shifting from “anyone who comes forward from past chapters of your life and makes any accusation must be taken seriously” to “anyone who comes forward, without any proof of ever meeting you, must be described as a credible accuser, no matter how outlandish the claim.”

If this is how the Democrats and their media allies want to play the game, or how they always intended to play the game, then the rise of a Trump-like figure in Republican politics was inevitable.

If the Democrats and media planned to insist upon this new rule that accusations amount to guilt, it was inevitable that the leading Republican figure would describe the media as “the enemy” and treat them as such.

If the Democrats were always going to insist upon unveiling an accusation as serious as Ford’s at the end of the confirmation process, instead of at the beginning, it was inevitable that the leading Republican would dismiss it as partisan nonsense, instead of taking it seriously.

If the Democrats and media were always going to insist that accusations amount to guilt, it was inevitable that the leading Republican figure would openly express skepticism of claims of sexual assault. You notice that coverage of #MeToo suddenly quieted down after AMC’s investigation cleared host Chris Hardwick, a CNN investigation cleared contributor Ryan Lizza, and accounts of Asia Argento’s past behavior became more complicated. People began to rightfully wonder whether a movement and rallying cry against patterns of shameless predatory abuse was becoming a tool for score-settling.

If the Democrats and national media insisted upon these new rules, it was inevitable that the leading Republican figure would openly mock accusers and point out gaps in their memories. It was inevitable that the leading Republican figure would begin describing unproven claims as “a hoax.”

If the Democrats and national media were always going to insist that demanding corroborating evidence was morally akin to supporting sexual assault, it was inevitable that the leading Republican figure would tune out that kind of accusation.

Few Democrats Ever See Any Republican Victories as Legitimate

Ronald Reagan won the presidency in 1980, but if you talk to certain aged progressives, they’ll insist that the reason Reagan won was that George H. W. Bush secretly met with the Iranians in Paris to persuade them to keep the hostages in Tehran until after Election Day.

In 1994, Republicans won control of the House and Senate, and ABC News anchor Peter Jennings explained to viewers that it wasn’t a real shift in the electorate, or at least not one to be respected:

Ask parents of any two-year-old and they can tell you about those temper tantrums: the stomping feet, the rolling eyes, the screaming. It’s clear that the anger controls the child and not the other way around. It’s the job of the parent to teach the child to control the anger and channel it in a positive way. Imagine a nation full of uncontrolled two-year-old rage. The voters had a temper tantrum last week . . . Parenting and governing don’t have to be dirty words: the nation can’t be run by an angry two-year-old.

Republicans had technically won the elections, but they hadn’t really won a legitimate victory.

In 2000, Democrats believed that Al Gore really won Florida and that the Supreme Court stopped a recount that would have shown him to be the winner. (Never mind that the court voted 7-2 that the recount method the Gore campaign wanted, using a hand recount in their four best counties, violated the Equal Protection Clause. The 5-4 decision was about whether an alternative method could be completed in time.)

Democrats contended that GOP victories in the 2002 midterms and the 2004 presidential election were the result of Diebold voting machines changing votes for Kerry to votes for Bush.

After the 2010 midterms, Democrats contended that gerrymandering, a bipartisan passion, was suddenly a threat to democracy. No less a figure than Barack Obama enjoyed drawing the lines of his state legislative district “to include some of Chicago’s wealthiest citizens, making the district a powerful financial and political base that he used to win his U.S. Senate seat.” A political fact of life that both parties utilized suddenly became intolerable once Democrats were in the minority again.

After the 2014 midterms, Democrats started complaining that their total vote in all Senate races combined was higher than the Republicans’ total vote in all Senate races combined, and that this somehow made the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate illegitimate, because so many of the GOP states had smaller populations.

The second-least populated state in the union is Vermont, with an estimated 623,000 residents; the 45th is Delaware; the 43rd is Rhode Island; and the 40th is Hawaii, with about 1.4 million. All of those states have two Democratic senators. I don’t hear Democrats complaining that those states are over-represented.

Then there was 2016, when President Trump won the Electoral College but lost the popular vote. The irony is that not only had Hillary Clinton lost a slew of key states that Barack Obama had won four years earlier, but that other Democrats had figured out how to win in those states in recent years. Senator Bill Nelson won in Florida in 2012, Senator Sherrod Brown won in Ohio in 2012, Senator Tammy Baldwin won in Wisconsin in 2012, Governor Tom Wolf won in Pennsylvania in 2014, and Governor Roy Cooper won North Carolina in 2016. In 2014, Iowa Democrats won the state’s treasurer and attorney-general races. These are not impossible states for Democrats to win; they’re just impossible states for a candidate as lousy as Hillary Clinton to win.

But to a lot of Democrats, Hillary Clinton’s ability to run up her margins in states such as California and New York meant that Trump’s win was somehow illegitimate.

To a certain type of Democratic activist, Trump’s victory was illegitimate because of the popular vote, the Republican Senate majority is illegitimate because of the low population of some red states, the Republican House majority is illegitimate because of gerrymandering, and now the Supreme Court is illegitimate because of the allegations against Brett Kavanaugh — and heck, maybe they’ll throw in the allegations against Clarence Thomas, too. Whenever the party they don’t like wins something, they can find a reason why the victory isn’t really “legitimate.” This is “Calvinball,” where the rules of the game are made up while you’re playing, and the purpose of the constantly shifting rules is to ensure that one side always wins.

The notion that every Republican victory is illegitimate in one form or another is not a fringe theory in Democratic circles, and if it’s not a majority within the party, then the minority who believes this is loud.

On Saturday I posted a Twitter poll, asking whether people agreed that if the Democrats won the House, they should impeach Trump, Vice President Pence, and Justice Kavanaugh. (This would make Nancy Pelosi or whomever the Democrats elect as speaker the 46th president and create a new opening on the Court.) The number of responses was insane — more than 37,000 votes — and it ended with 67 percent disagree, but 33 percent agree, and it swung back and forth over the 24-hour period. (The poll also left some Mensa candidates on Twitter convinced that I’m a progressive Democrat.) That puts about 12,000 people who encountered my Twitter poll subscribing to the “impeach them all” theory.

And now expanding the size of the Supreme Court is becoming a priority in Democratic circles.

Their key aim, an expansion of the Supreme Court from nine to twelve members during the next Democratic administration, would thwart the Court’s current majority and bring important procedural reforms to the Court . . .

Why are our politics so angry, accusatory, vicious, nasty, personal, and vindictive? Because when one side refuses ever to recognize that the other side has legitimately won an election, this kind of atmosphere is inevitable.

ADDENDA: Everybody in northern Florida, stay safe . . .

Former Obama national security adviser and notorious liar about Benghazi Susan Rice is thinking about running against Susan Collins in 2020. Oh, by the way, Rice is not a resident of the state of Maine, but she owns a home there.

I suppose if Rice’s Senate bid doesn’t succeed, she’ll just blame it on a video.

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