Cold Fury

Harshing your mellow since 9/01

Force and will

Methinks he might be a mite too optimistic about the likelihood of the Left ever accepting defeat.

Plenty has been written about the absurdity of running a republic by way of whisper campaigns, uncorroborated smears, and malicious innuendo. There is no need to rehash the mistreatment—some of it irrevocably damaging—of Judge Brett Kavanaugh. What’s important to remember is that this will now be the new norm of nomination battles. It marks the inevitable decline of our confirmation process over the last 30 years. I write “inevitable” because as soon as progressivism’s explicit living constitutionalism and implicit legal “realism” became dominant on the Left, the descent of the judiciary committee from respectable judiciousness to partisan bedlam was foreordained.

Our national politics in recent decades has lost its bipartisan consensus. The middle has collapsed, and the Democrats and Republicans are pulling away from one another on the deeper principles of politics, with policy disagreements following in train. The standard and incorrect explanation for this divergence is mere partisan recalcitrance and stubbornness. It is more profound than that.

Truth is, we are polarized now about foundational questions of human nature, constitutionalism, and justice. Our cold civil war and partisan rancor will only end when one party finally wins the argument about these fundamentals in a decisive and conclusive victory and uses that victory to solidify and sustain an enduring electoral coalition for a generation or more. Should such a turn come, the losing side, as has been the case repeatedly in American history, will then be forced to accommodate, regroup, reevaluate, and moderate (we of course have the one glaring historical exception of the Democrat-led secession movement in defense of slavery that led to the tragedy of our hot Civil War in 1860).

The stakes are high right now in American politics. When Michael Anton wrote “The Flight 93 Election” in September 2016, many on the political and intellectual Right objected in strong (and often histrionic) terms. It has been encouraging to watch in recent weeks as independents and moderate Republicans have come to Kavanaugh’s (and, on behalf of Kavanaugh, to Trump’s) defense. The president and his nominee are players in a much larger fight over fundamental questions about who we are as a people and who ought to govern and for what purposes.

Even with these high stakes, all Americans ought to pray fervently and hope fondly that we continue this passionate and spirited national argument as fellow citizens, rather than as enemies. Come what may, each side must abide the consequences of legitimate political victory when and if it comes.

Umm, hate to bring it up and all, but they’ve spent the last two years demonstrating beyond any possible doubt their total unwillingness to do just that, leaving no stone unturned to undo a “legitimate political victory.” As for “enemies,” they’ve openly declared us as their enemies, and have done one hell of a lot of violence to back it up, with many flat promises of more to come. I see no prospect of any sudden change of heart on their part, although I’d certainly love to be proven wrong about that.

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