The Morning Jolt

PC Culture

Democrats Encouraged to Go Rogue on Republicans

Former Attorney General Eric Holder (Mark Wilson/Getty)

Making the click-through worthwhile: Eric Holder tries out the Avenatti style and steps on a rake; the sun sets on the Beto O’Rourke hype; and why American society can’t turn on a dime, no matter how much progressives want it to change and want it to change quickly.

No Holder Barred

I suppose it was inevitable that a somewhat more reputable Democrat would attempt to emulate Michael Avenatti’s style, and that it would go badly:

“It is time for us as Democrats to be as tough as they are, to be as dedicated as they are, to be as committed as they are,” [former Attorney General Eric] Holder said. “Michelle always says, Michelle Obama, I love her. She and my wife are really tight. Which always scares me and Barack. Michelle always says, ‘When they go low, we go high.’ No. No. When they go low, we kick them.”

The potential 2020 candidate added:

That’s what this new Democratic party is about. We are proud as hell to be Democrats. We are willing to fight for the ideals of the Democratic party. We are proud of our history, we are proud of our present and we are proud of the future that we can create for this country.

He later said:

When I say we kick them, I don’t mean we do anything inappropriate, we don’t do anything illegal, but we have to be tough and we have to fight.

It’s good to see that the man who was once the country’s chief law-enforcement official eventually recognized that he might regret a rallying cry that urges kicking people.

We live in a moment when each political party is utterly convinced that it is a victim of the unfair skullduggery of the other one.

If you ask Democrats, the Senate’s treatment of Merrick Garland in 2016 ranks as one of the modern era’s greatest outrages. They think the media were ludicrously unfair and hostile to Hillary Clinton in 2016 and took it easy on Trump despite glaring scandals. They believe that corporate America is always on the opposition’s side, pointing to fights over taxes and regulations. They feel that the public is misled by the opposition’s well-organized media allies, repeating untruths until the sheep-like public accepts them as truth. As I wrote earlier this week, they deem recent Republican victories illegitimate because of the Electoral College, the population divisions among states, gerrymandering, and voter suppression.

If you ask Republicans, the Senate’s treatment of Merrick Garland in 2016 was constitutional, legal, and in keeping with Senate traditions — and that it was in fact one of the shrewdest and wisest decisions of their party’s leadership in years. They think the media were ludicrously unfair and hostile to Donald Trump in 2016 and took it easy on Clinton despite glaring scandals. They believe that corporate America is always on the opposition’s side, pointing to fights over trade, gay marriage, and most fights involving political correctness. They feel the public is misled by the opposition’s well-organized media allies, repeating untruths until the sheep-like public accepts them as truth. They deem recent Democratic victories illegitimate because of allegations of voter fraud and the belief that large numbers of illegal immigrants are voting in elections.

We don’t run into trouble when American political leaders urge their supporters to go out and beat — er, defeat — the other party. Elections matter. The stakes are real. There’s nothing wrong with firing up your supporters. But we get into trouble when American political leaders tell their supporters that the voters on the other side are the enemy. That’s why Barack Obama expressed regret after using the phrase “punish our enemies” while trying to get out the vote among Latinos.

Bet-Oh, No!

I’ll return to the topic of our societal divisions in a moment, but some quick updates about the midterms. First, Beto O’Rourke is on the verge of accomplishing something extraordinary. He’s about to set a new record for amount of glowing national press coverage for a campaign that never led in a poll. The latest from Quinnipiac doesn’t quite say it’s over . . . but it’s getting close to over.

Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll:

Is the Beto bubble bursting or just hissing away with a slow leak? With less than four weeks until Election Day, Congressman Beto O’Rourke has hit a wall and remains the same nine points behind Sen. Ted Cruz as he was when Quinnipiac University polled the race last month.

The election is far from over, but Sen. Cruz would have to suffer a major collapse for him to lose. That is even more unlikely since 97 percent of Cruz voters say they are sure they won’t change their minds.

Cruz has a 52 – 44 percent favorability rating. O’Rourke has a divided 45 – 47 percent favorability rating.

As I wrote way back in March:

It’s possible, even likely, that Democrats will improve upon their abysmal performance in the 2014 midterms. But it’s difficult to tell if Texas Democrats are really coming back or not, because the national and state media have been so desperate to see a comeback happen that they find the evidence to write this story every single cycle.

American Society Doesn’t Turn on a Dime

The preeminent factor in our intensifying cultural divisions is an effort by the left to redefine what is unacceptable. In 2008, Barack Obama went into Saddleback Church and told Pastor Rick Warren, in a televised event, that “I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman.” (Years later, David Axelrod assured readers in his book that Obama never believed that, and that he had merely lied to a pastor in church and the entire country. Rest easier, everyone!) Publicly expressing what was, until 2011, Barack Obama’s position on marriage is now considered something akin to a hate crime. Many have attempted to stretch the definition of xenophobia to go beyond antipathy to immigrants and those who are different to those who believe that immigration laws should be enforced and that the United States should have a secure border. The term “thug” is now racially charged and controversial — nobody tell Tupac, and nobody bother to look up the fact that the term derives from the Thuggee cult in India. (Yes, the bad guys from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.)

For much of the post–Cold War era, both Democrats and Republicans believed in a system of regulated capitalism and disagreed on how much regulation was ideal; now many Democrats are openly socialist. Significant numbers of young people on college campuses believe that speech that offends them is a form of violence, and that punching them in response is a form of free speech. Most Americans still find the concept of 37 genders absurd and contend that no matter what you feel like you are, you’re either one or the other.

You wake up one morning and suddenly clapping is considered insensitive to people with disabilities.

To me the essence of modern progressivism can be found in two lower-court decisions in the past decade and a half that ruled that saying “One nation under God” was unconstitutional, because it amounted to establishing a state religion. Higher courts overruled those decisions, but the point is that some judge felt comfortable telling people, who had been saying the Pledge of Allegiance every school day for their entire lives since 1954, that they had been violating the Constitution all along. Saying the Pledge is one of the few things that about 99.9 percent of all Americans have done (other than perhaps a few religious objectors). In addition to schools, most government meetings and quite a few private organizations begin their meetings with it. It is as woven into the fabric of American life as any other tradition.

Unsurprisingly, people do not like hearing that something they’ve done every weekday since kindergarten is wrong. Some people say it proudly, some people mumble it out of a sense of obligation, and some just stand. School districts know they cannot make students say the Pledge. No one in their right mind could construe the words “under God” being in the Pledge as being the establishment of a state religion. But these two judges felt completely comfortable telling every school in their jurisdictions that they had to stop what they had been doing for five or six decades and change immediately.

You can’t turn American society on a dime, and Americans really don’t like having changes imposed upon them. Just look at the reaction whenever Gmail changes the way it looks. Aspects of American life can change quickly — look at cell phones! — but it has to be organic and freely adopted.

This “The political opposition is the enemy” line is getting Americans to see each other only through the lens of politics, and people are more than their politics.

Did you ever find out that someone you knew and liked had a really weird belief? (Keep in mind, just about any belief is really weird to somebody. We Catholics believe that bread and wine turn into the body and blood of Christ, which probably sounds creepy-zombie-cannibalistic to someone unfamiliar with the faith.)

I’m referring to somebody who believes that the moon landing was faked; that they were abducted by aliens, spoke with angels, or saw ghosts; that the apocalypse is imminent; that the mob/Hoover/CIA/Cubans/Russians/Trilateral Commission/Bilderbergs/Hellfire Club killed JFK; that the Kennedys killed Marilyn Monroe; that the Chernobyl disaster was American retaliation for the Soviets secretly blowing up the Challenger space shuttle; that Michael Jordan’s brief, odd baseball career was a secret agreement to avoid a league suspension for gambling . . . wait, that last one makes a lot of sense.

Would you have to reevaluate your friendship or relationship with someone if they had a really bizarre belief? If so, why? How limited a range of viewpoints are you willing to impose upon everyone you know? Will you carry around a lengthy quiz of political topics to make sure everyone stays within the realm of acceptable perspectives? How will you banish those who deviate from your own personal orthodoxy?

If your auto-repair guy was adamant that the United States should go back to the gold standard . . . would it really matter, if he’s the best guy to fix your care? (Presuming, of course, that his repair shop still takes credit cards and he doesn’t expect payment in bullion.) If your dry cleaner believed that the United States should invade Andorra . . . does it matter, if he or she is really good at getting the stains out? When did we as Americans lose the ability to nod, offer a noncommittal “mm-hmm,” and change the subject?

Are there views beyond the pale? Heck yeah. If I found out my local coffee shop was owned and run by neo-Nazis, I’d get my coffee elsewhere. But we ought to have a little faith in each others’ abilities to discern when to express societal disapproval and when to let it go.

Freedom has to include the freedom to have the “wrong” opinion or beliefs.

ADDENDUM: Don’t look now, but the man crowned the most vulnerable Senate incumbent of the 2018 cycle, Nevada’s Dean Heller, has led the past two polls. Small leads, but not the numbers you’d expect to see from a guy who’s supposedly toast.

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