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The Need to Demonize

From The Weekly Standard, The Roots of Campus Leftism by Warren Treadgold

Campus leftism has been much less concerned with helping the supposedly oppressed than with demonizing the supposed oppressors. The allegedly oppressed who fail to recognize their oppression, like women who want traditional roles as wives and mothers, were lectured on their need for “raised consciousness.” Radical white professors had to teach minority students to recognize seemingly inoffensive remarks and actions as “microaggressions” to be resented. Yet anyone with a real concern for the interests of women and minorities should realize that telling them to be outraged by, say, a Halloween costume or the name of a football team discourages them from positive efforts to help themselves and encourages them to antagonize people who would otherwise be sympathetic to them. Anyone with a real concern for blacks should want police protection for the many blacks in danger of being terrorized and murdered by black criminals. Anyone with a real concern for people confused about their sexuality should be reluctant to encourage them to undergo drastic and largely irreversible surgery. Nonetheless, the question of whether leftist social engineering causes more misery than it relieves is irrelevant if the only permissible motive is to combat oppressors and to defend the identities of the oppressed.

The paradigm of oppressors and oppressed explains combinations of dogmas that can otherwise seem inconsist-ent. It may seem incongruous to insist that sexual orientation cannot be chosen but gender can; but both positions serve to stigmatize as unjust and oppressive conservative and religious views that homosexuality and transgenderism are unnatural. Animal rights are important if the animals are oppressed by capitalists; but a right to life for an unborn child can be ignored if oppressive religious traditionalists defend it. That American blacks are almost six times more likely to be imprisoned than whites is a scandal because blacks are oppressed and whites are oppressors; but that men are almost 14 times more likely to be imprisoned than women is no problem, because men are oppressors and women are oppressed.

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The Threat of Administrative Agencies

Yuval Levin recently wrote TheFractured Republic, an intelligent look at the state of political discontent, and a recommended read.  He recently wrote Hillary Is an Embodiment of the Left’s Disdain for Democracy with coauthor Ramesh Ponnuru in National Review. He examines three reason why Hillary is the larger threat while acknowledging Trump’s significant shortcomings.


The second way contemporary liberalism threatens our constitutional order is closely connected to the first: Today’s Left is the party of the administrative state, which is often the means by which executive unilateralism operates but is also far more than that. The term “administrative state” refers to the tangle of regulatory agencies that populate the executive branch, including agencies that are at least nominally “independent.” They increasingly govern beyond the control of the other branches and therefore at times genuinely outside the confines of our constitutional system.

These agencies frequently operate by issuing rules and regulations: several thousand of them every year. These rules are supposed to implement federal laws, but both the growing vagueness of major legislation and the growing assertiveness of the regulators have increasingly meant that the agencies basically legislate through their rules. Some of them then also adjudicate disputes arising from their own implementation of these rules, effectively lodging legislative, executive, and judicial power in a single institution.

“The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny,” James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 47. Many Americans subject to the jurisdiction of particularly aggressive regulatory agencies might well agree. But the power of such agencies has been growing by leaps and bounds in the Obama years.

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The Legislative Court of HRC

Probably the most objectionable statement from HRC (and this is quite a list) was in the second debate in how she would select justices for the Supreme Court. The transcript:

QUESTION: Good evening. Perhaps the most important aspect of this election is the Supreme Court justice. What would you prioritize as the most important aspect of selecting a Supreme Court justice?

RADDATZ: We begin with your two minutes, Secretary Clinton.

Thank you. Well, you’re right. This is one of the most important issues in this election. I want to appoint Supreme Court justices who understand the way the world really works, who have real-life experience, who have not just been in a big law firm and maybe clerked for a judge and then gotten on the bench, but, you know, maybe they tried some more cases, they actually understand what people are up against.

Because I think the current court has gone in the wrong direction. And so I would want to see the Supreme Court reverse Citizens United and get dark, unaccountable money out of our politics. Donald doesn’t agree with that.

I would like the Supreme Court to understand that voting rights are still a big problem in many parts of our country, that we don’t always do everything we can to make it possible for people of color and older people and young people to be able to exercise their franchise. I want a Supreme Court that will stick with Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose, and I want a Supreme Court that will stick with marriage equality.

Now, Donald has put forth the names of some people that he would consider. And among the ones that he has suggested are people who would reverse Roe v. Wade and reverse marriage equality. I think that would be a terrible mistake and would take us backwards.

I want a Supreme Court that doesn’t always side with corporate interests. I want a Supreme Court that understands because you’re wealthy and you can give more money to something doesn’t mean you have any more rights or should have any more rights than anybody else.

So I have very clear views about what I want to see to kind of change the balance on the Supreme Court. And I regret deeply that the Senate has not done its job and they have not permitted a vote on the person that President Obama, a highly qualified person, they’ve not given him a vote to be able to be have the full complement of nine Supreme Court justices. I think that was a dereliction of duty.


Everything she wants the Supreme Court to do is the duty or the prerogative of the Legislature.  The Supreme Court should see that we are equal before the law and that the law upholds the spirit as well as the content of the Constitution.  Their job should not be to uphold legislation but to assure that the legislation complies with the Constitution, that majoritarianism is contained and that individual liberties are protected. Their job is not to correct legislation or modernize the Constitution beyond interpreting the law in light of modern changes. For example, the prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure could apply to wiretapping.

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The Root Cause of Our Success


from Deirdre McCloskey at The New York Times,  Equality, Liberty, Justice and Wealth:

You may object that ideas are a dime a dozen and that to make them fruitful we must start with adequate physical and human capital and good institutions. It’s a popular idea at the World Bank, but a mistaken one. True, we eventually need capital and institutions to embody the ideas, such as a marble building with central heating and cooling to house the Supreme Court. But the intermediate and dependent causes like capital and institutions have not been the root cause.

The root cause of enrichment was and is the liberal idea, spawning the university, the railway, the high-rise, the internet and, most important, our liberties. What original accumulation of capital inflamed the minds of William Lloyd Garrison and Sojourner Truth? What institutions, except the recent liberal ones of university education and uncensored book publishing, caused feminism or the antiwar movement? Since Karl Marx, we have made a habit of seeking material causes for human progress. But the modern world came from treating more and more people with respect.

Ideas are not all sweet, of course. Fascism, racism, eugenics and nationalism are ideas with alarming recent popularity. But sweet practical ideas for profitable technologies and institutions, and the liberal idea that allowed ordinary people for the first time to have a go, caused the Great Enrichment. We need to inspirit masses of people, not the elite, who are plenty inspirited already. Equality before the law and equality of social dignity are still the root of economic, as well as spiritual, flourishing — whatever tyrants may think to the contrary.

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After Trump

It appears Trump is going to lose, and the best we can hope for is for the GOP to hold on to both houses of Congress.

The Trumpers have nobody to blame but Trump.  He not only failed to assemble a winning coalition, he did not even try.  Yes, he widened the base but it is not enough.  It may be surprising that this office requires some sense of diplomacy, but when you start off attacking every Republican who has actually won his/her election, many repeatedly, and had to govern with a divided Congress, a biased media and an uncompromising president, you are destroying allies quicker than you make them.

It matters little whether he loses by a little or a lot.  He should have won it by a lot since he is opposed by the most corrupt and objectionable candidate the Democrats could muster.  Any loss against Clinton should be humiliating.

Before Trump there was a divide in the GOP between the social conservatives and the constitutional/ free market conservative, but they united to elect Reagan and the Bushes.  Now the divide has shifted between the populists and the intellectuals.  The social conservatives have made a Devil’s bargain with the populist justified only by the revulsion they feel towards Clinton. The intellectual conservatives have largely abandoned Trump altogether.

The populists, fueled by the right wing ratings mongers, were convinced that the establishment Republicans, which apparently means any Republican who has won an election and actually governed, were as bad as the Democrats.  Their refusal to support any of the candidates who had won elections makes them supreme hypocrites for demonizing and threatening those who refuse to support Donald.  They are sacrificing the good or the better for the ideal.

Will the Republicans learn the right lessons from this debacle?

One lesson would be to exercise better control of the nominating process. No more debates with 2 minute responses better suited to reality television. Perhaps some basic vetting of the candidates before they are ever allowed on the stage would be in order.  Perhaps they should learn from their adversaries the need for super delegates.  The framers of the Constitution knew that democracy required limits; the party leaders should also be aware of the limits of an unrestrained democratic nomination process.

The free market and intellectual conservatives will think that the rejection of their views caused the loss and the social conservatives will think the same of their views and we will return to the previous fragile coalition.

But Trump did prove that there is a group that feels largely unrepresented by either party. The GOP must find a way to connect with those left behind in the stagnant economy without sacrificing the principles.  This is a tall order and takes a special kind of leader.  I am not sure who this will be but it clearly is not Donald Trump.