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The Essence of Identity Politics

from Ed Driscoll and The Rise of the John Birch Left

The modern left is built around a trio of laudable principles: protecting the environment is good, racism is bad, and so is demonizing a person over his or her sexual preferences. (In the chapter of his book Intellectuals titled “The Flight from Reason,” Paul Johnson wrote that “At the end of the Second World War, there was a significant change in the predominant aim of secular intellectuals, a shift of emphasis from utopianism to hedonism.” ) But just as the Bircher right began to see communists everywhere, the new Bircher left sees racism, sexism, homophobia, and Koch Brothers everywhere.

HKO

Read the complete article . This is the essence of identity politics.

Means Matter

One of the problems with the ‘ends justify the means’ mentality is determining whose ends you are pursuing. The idea of a living constitution sounds fine to the left as long as they are pursuing the goals the left values, but when the government shifts you want the restrictions of the Constitution and its devolution of power to protect your interests. The means do matter, even when they do not deliver the ends you desire. Principles and ideology matters even when they frustrate pragmatic solutions.

Glenn Harlan Reynolds, law professor and blogger at Instapundit, makes this point in The USA Today in  A ‘living Constitution’ on the right?

What if right-leaning jurists listened to their critics on the left, and adopted a “living Constitution” approach instead of relying on what the Framers understood the text to mean? As Barnett asks: “Why would you possibly want a nonoriginalist ‘living constitutionalist’ conservative judge or justice who can bend the meaning of the text to make it evolve to conform to conservative political principles and ends? However much you disagree with it, wouldn’t you rather a conservative justice consider himself constrained by the text of the Constitution like, say, the Emoluments Clause?”

Where else might we see changes? Well, I’m neither a conservative (I’m a libertarian) or a living constitutionalist, but I can imagine a few places. One is in the scope of government power. During the New Deal era, the Supreme Court — after being threatened with “court packing” by FDR — endorsed a massive expansion of governmental power on the ground that it would lead to greater efficiency in the economy. Instead, we got a bloated bureaucracy with serious accountability problems, and a disastrous expansion in spending, regulation and federal debt. Based on this experience, I can imagine a conservative justice who sees the Constitution as a “living breathing organism” that must be kept in tune with the needs of the day deciding that the New Deal Court’s decisions were mistakes that violate the Constitution, and must now be rolled back.

Likewise for the Warren Court’s “one man, one vote” rule for state legislative apportionment, in which states — unlike the federal government under the U.S. Constitution — were no longer allowed to have a house of their legislature apportioned by geography rather than population. The result has been that states like California or Illinois, which is red almost everywhere but in the Chicago metropolitan area, are totally dominated by the large populations of urban centers.   Those states are also governed badly and suffer from considerable degrees of corruption and enormous debt. Perhaps experience turns out to show that the “one man one vote” approach was wrong, and that there was wisdom after all in the Framers’ approach of not apportioning everything according to population.  A “living Constitution” changes with the times!

But my advice to those on the left attacking originalist approaches is this: Be careful what you ask for, because you won’t like it if you get it.

The New Populism

From Noah Rothman at Commentary, The Age of Emotion and Unreason

The elites and experts in whom society has placed its trust have underperformed over the last decade. This phenomenon was discussed at length in the latest COMMENTARY podcast. In virtually every sector of rarified society, the failure of the managerial class to pass basic competency tests is endemic. There is, however, another side to that coin—a side that isn’t often discussed in an era of anti-elitism, in which the professed ability to channel the primal nature of the angry American voter is a prized commodity. It is the fact that the angry American voter is an emotional animal, and emotionality leads to bad policy. Too many have confused displays of pique and pride for intellectual argument.

At the moment, America’s intellectual class is transfixed by a forensic investigation into the present backlash against the political class in Washington. The risk of over-interpreting the results of an election in which one unpopular candidate managed to best another by fewer than 200,000 votes in three key swing states has been subsumed in the race to catalog the genus #MAGA. This mission has recently transformed, though, from the necessary enterprise of identifying the causes that led to a reaction against a comfortable class on the coasts into an effort to impose on this movement a kind of intellectualism absent in the actions and pronouncements of its standard-bearer.

The task of making America’s new nationalism into something of substance has become a preoccupation of both by Trump skeptics and supporters. But the fact that so many on the intellectual right are laboriously crafting a rationale for “America First” abroad and “economic nationalism” at home is an admission that no such rationale exists. These aren’t policies but sentiments—and not unearned sentiments, either. The noble, angry American voter may be a righteously aggrieved figure, but that doesn’t mean he knows much about public policy.

A Radicalized Bureaucracy

from The National Review, Matthew Continetti writes Who Rules The United States:

The last few weeks have confirmed that there are two systems of government in the United States. The first is the system of government outlined in the U.S. Constitution — its checks, its balances, its dispersion of power, its protection of individual rights. Donald Trump was elected to serve four years as the chief executive of this system. Whether you like it or not.

The second system is comprised of those elements not expressly addressed by the Founders. This is the permanent government, the so-called administrative state of bureaucracies, agencies, quasi-public organizations, and regulatory bodies and commissions, of rule-writers and the byzantine network of administrative law courts. This is the government of unelected judges with lifetime appointments who, far from comprising the “least dangerous branch,” now presume to think they know more about America’s national security interests than the man elected as commander in chief.

For some time, especially during Democratic presidencies, the second system of government was able to live with the first one. But that time has ended. The two systems are now in competition. And the contest is all the more vicious and frightening because more than offices are at stake. This fight is not about policy. It is about wealth, status, the privileges of an exclusive class.

Donald Trump did not cause the divergence between government of, by, and for the people and government, of, by, and for the residents of Cleveland Park and Arlington and Montgomery and Fairfax counties. But he did exacerbate it. He forced the winners of the global economy and the members of the D.C. establishment to reckon with the fact that they are resented, envied, opposed, and despised by about half the country. But this recognition did not humble the entrenched incumbents of the administrative state. It radicalized them to the point where they are readily accepting, even cheering on, the existence of a “deep state” beyond the control of the people and elected officials.

HKO

A very important article worth reading in full. The expanded bureaucracy, the hallmark fo the Progressive State, has long exercised legislative powers in an unaccountable fashion, but the shock of the Trump election has radicalized them into entirely inappropriate and likely illegal action.

Losing the Zero Sum Game

From The Federalist, Why The Resistance Is The Best Thing That’s Happened To Donald Trump by David Harsanyi

That’s the choice #TheResistance — whose mantra, let’s face it, has synched with the national Democratic Party — has created for many moderate Republicans, right-leaning independents, and movement conservatives concerned about Trump. Which is to say, they offer no choice whatsoever. They offer plenty of hysteria, hypocrisy, and conflating of conservatism with Trumpism for political gain.

It’s true that Trump doesn’t exhibit prudence, reliance, or inherited wisdom. Yet — and I know this is exceedingly difficult for Democrats to comprehend —neither does the alternative. If liberals were serious about convincing Republicans to abandon Trump in toto, they’d have something better to offer than Donald Trump.

What seems to most vex critics of the anti-anti-Trump contingent (and I am mentioned in the Atlantic piece) is that conservatives aren’t appropriately agitated about the world that liberals see — a world that has turned out to be far less apocalyptic in the early going than they imagine. But if it’s a zero-sum choice they’re offering, that includes picking Neil Gorsuch over Planned Parenthood; tax cuts over teachers unions; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over Iran’s Holocaust deniers; deregulation of the bureaucratic state over legislation, or forcing progressive cultural mores on everyone. And so on.

HKO

If 40% of the voters identify as Democrats and 60% of them favor radical obstruction and #resistance then they only represent 24% of the voters.  If the radical efforts to please 24% of the voters just further alienate the rest then this is a losing strategy.