In Michigan and Wisconsin, lame duck Republican-majority legislatures are enacting laws to limit the powers of incoming Democratic governors. Two years ago in North Carolina, the same happened. These moves are particularly striking examples of recent aggressive Republican procedural hardball. Whatever the right rules are for the separation of powers, they should apply to both parties and not be changed opportunistically.
.. Should they go tit-for-tat and escalate procedural shenanigans, rules-stretching and rules-breaking? Or should they strive, leading by good example, to maintain a system of norms that have provided political stability in the hopes that a more moderate, reasonable Republican Party will re-emerge?
.. Retaliating in kind could aggravate already deep polarization and wreck what’s left of our political norms. Restraint, on the other hand, would establish new norms that establish electoral disadvantages for Democrats and embolden Republicans.
.. There is a better option, and it also happens to be the best option. Democrats can use the Republican hardball against them by weaving together the Michigan, Wisconsin and North Carolina cases into a larger story to take to voters in 2020: the indictment of Republican attacks on democracy accompanied by an aggressive reform agenda for strengthening constitutional norms and democratic procedures.
.. But a very clear narrative or popular revulsion — or both — can change that. Examples are found in the Progressive Era around the turn of the 20th century and again in the immediate aftermath of Watergate, when procedural reform gained traction, for better or for worse, and both term limits and campaign finance reform had moments of widespread popular enthusiasm. There’s good reason to think that the next two years offer the opportunity to create such a corruption narrative and to take advantage of what’s likely to be growing revulsion.
.. President Trump’s administration has made this job easier: The midterm election results showed that its scandals and disgrace have already focused voters’ attention. That’s not the time for retaliation and escalation. It’s the time offer prescriptions for rebuilding the rules that accompany a diagnosis that helps voters make sense of how badly wrong things have gone. Democrats can try to punish Republicans at the ballot box by trying to strengthen rather than weaken democratic norms.
The obvious place to begin is with the White House itself. Proposals to
- require presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns,
- give teeth to the Emoluments Clause,
- strengthen anti-nepotism rules that should keep unqualified family members out of sensitive offices,
- extend conflict-of-interest rules to include the president, and
- turn blind trust norms into binding rules
won’t be hard to understand under Mr. Trump. They will reinforce voters’ distrust of the president while also offering ways to prevent his abuses from becoming standard practice.
.. Republican procedural abuses at the state level precede the Trump administration, but they can fairly be connected to it. Most important is disenfranchisement. Democrats should emphasize the sustained nationwide Republican effort to limit access to the ballot and offer proposals to
- restore the Voting Rights Act,
- end felon disenfranchisement,
- undo restrictive voter identification rules,
- ease registration,
- protect early voting and
- ensure that voting places are more widely and evenly distributed.
Not only has Mr. Trump been on the wrong side of those issues, encouraging state crackdowns on imagined millions of noncitizen voters; but voting restrictions in narrowly won Midwestern states got him closer to the White House in the first place... Other proposals, from statehood for the District of Columbia to gerrymandering reform, then make sense as part of the same effort to strengthen representation and fair democratic practice.
.. This is also the best approach for Democrats in the short term because they’re not in a strong position to retaliate even if an angry activist base wants them to. Despite some losses last month, Republicans remain in control of more governor’s seats and more state legislatures. More important, making things worse right now really is the wrong thing to do. If Democrats follow a course of unrestrained but legal tactics, we could find ourselves embroiled in even more severe dysfunction and a constitutional crisis. Tit for tat is sometimes necessary to enforce norms, but escalation in an already seriously polarized environment is dangerous.
.. If Democrats can offer a unifying indictment tying Republican attacks on democratic norms to Trump administration abuses, along with a coherent package of serious proposals to restore procedural fairness, voters will have a way of making sense of new examples of Republican sharp dealing.
.. Proposals to shorten lame duck legislative sessions and to constrain their authority, for example, would reinforce the idea that Republicans have been the party of procedural abuses and unfairness while still setting forth a good neutral rule.
.. This is the alternative to doing nothing or making things worse: seek to punish Republicans in 2020 by offering a vision of how to make things better.
It is almost unthinkable that there will be a second Supreme Court justice taking his seat under suspicions of perjury and sexual misconduct.
There is a reason Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing will be short and feature only two witnesses, the Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser Christine Blasey Ford. Republicans have designed the hearing to end in a “he said, she said” stalemate. No matter how credible Dr. Blasey is, isolating her as a lone accuser is the most effective political strategy for confirming Judge Kavanaugh.
His strategy will be simple: categorical denial.
.. Republicans will then be able to claim that fairness had been served because both witnesses were heard. But Americans, denied the testimony of other relevant witnesses who could support Dr. Blasey’s account and denied an F.B.I. investigation into other evidence, won’t be any closer to the truth.
.. This week four people who know Dr. Blasey, including her husband, signed affidavits and submitted them to the Judiciary Committee saying she told them about being sexually assaulted by Judge Kavanaugh before he was nominated by President Trump. Their statements provide important corroboration, and if the Senate was really interested in learning the truth, these people would be called to testify.
.. And then there is Mark Judge, whom Dr. Blasey said participated with Judge Kavanaugh in the high school assault on her and whom Ms. Swetnick said helped him lure girls into “side rooms” at parties to be “gang raped.” The Judiciary Committee has refused to subpoena Mr. Judge, who reportedly was hiding out at a beach house on the Delaware shore
.. Unschooled in the art of political communication, facing questions from not just skeptical senators but also an experienced sex crimes prosecutor retained by the committee’s Republican majority, she must hope that the power of her story, the facts of what happened so long ago, are strong enough to convince the Senate and the millions of Americans watching on television. And she will not have the final say.
Her testimony will be followed by Judge Kavanaugh’s denial. According to his prepared remarks, he will allow that he was not a complete angel in high school, but will absolutely deny that the encounter with Dr. Blasey ever took place. He will have the last word.
.. There were people willing to be called before the committee who would have testified under oath about Judge Thomas’s interest in pornography, information that also would have buttressed Ms. Hill’s testimony. But none were called.
Instead, Senator Joe Biden, the Democratic committee chairman, fearing political backlash, abruptly gaveled the hearings to an end. Anita Hill remained isolated as the lone accuser.
.. It was only in the wee morning hours that I learned that there was a second woman, Angela Wright, who had been ready to testify that Judge Thomas, in the office, had asked about the size of her breasts. Several senators told me years later, when I was reporting for a book, “Strange Justice,” that if Ms. Wright had been allowed to testify, Judge Thomas might not have been confirmed.
.. There were four other women who would have supported aspects of Ms. Hill’s testimony and four others who knew about Judge Thomas’s interest in pornography. At least Hill was permitted to call as witnesses friends in whom she had confided about the sexual harassment she endured. Dr. Blasey won’t have even that.
I’ve been reading Sojourner Truth’s famous 1851 speech, “Ain’t I a Woman.”
“I could work as much and eat as much as a man, when I could get it, and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne 13 children and seen most of them sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?”
.. When Truth asked the group of mostly white women in her audience whether she was a woman, she was not simply pointing to the hypocrisy of Western thought in which nations and “civilized” societies were built on the enslavement, murder and exploitation of women and children. Truth’s question was a provocation, a challenge to a racial structure built on the dehumanization of an entire group of human beings.
.. The barbarity of American slavery should be recalled more often, if only to truly understand the significance of its demise. It was
- the grief of losing one’s child,
- being raped,
- tortured and
- separated from your own
- family and friends at a whim.
.. It was a system that normalized and codified its everyday brutality. It was life in constant fear and punishing, exacting labor. And it was completely legal.
.. Who successfully sued a white man to get back her son.
.. For example, Truth, in fact, had only five children, not 13 — an embellishment attributed to those who later transcribed the speech for the illiterate former slave.
.. I think of her standing in a courtroom to claim her child and I remind myself that this is what freedom means.
.. I participated in the Occupy movement, during which a crossracial coalition of people from New York to Honolulu protested income inequality, gentrification, police brutality and unjust incarceration. The movement had many successes, but in its immediate aftermath we saw widespread crackdowns in cities around the country on people’s ability to interact and exist in urban outdoor spaces — policies that have aided efforts to criminalize the nation’s homeless and pre-emptively arrest other vulnerable populations.
.. In order to have hope, I have to believe that, after the backlash, things — for black Americans and other oppressed people here and around the world — will change again.
.. For black Americans, the struggle of emancipation is riddled with its failures: sharecropping, lynching, segregation, disenfranchisement and brutal, unfair treatment by the criminal justice system.
.. John Lewis said in a recent tweet, “Do not get lost in a sea of despair.
Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime.”
Even if you are wise enough to avoid the C word, word salad will just take another turn.
You might ask the narc to stop treating you with disrespect. To which the Narc will answer:
“Disrespect? How interesting you use that word…remember that time you disrespected me in front of your teacher?”
To which you might reply:
“I was in seventh grade.”
And now the Narc has pulled you into their web:
“Of course it was seventh grade, but that just proves how disrespectful you’ve been your entire life.”
And if you are still crazy enough to imagine you can reason with the Narc, you might reply:
“I’d prefer to talk about our current relationship instead of events years ago.”
(Seems reasonable right?)
But the Narc will find a recent event to prove how you have shown a lack of respect:
“Okay, so how about the fact that you can’t even show up at your grandmother’s birthday dinner?”
Of course they leave out the fact that they planned the dinner on the spur of the moment, on another day that wasn’t even her birthday and you had to work that day. Be careful here, you might try to defend this by suggesting true respect would be to consult you before the party was set, but that will just take you down another rabbit trail which like all rabbit trails will lead you back to where you started.
All of the Narc’s circular reasoning and arguments are simply a distraction to make you wonder if you are the real problem, but let me state this plainly:
.. Bottom line:
The Narc needs a scapegoat and you have been selected. (Unlucky you.)