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Jim’s Briefs: 2/21/17

1. The Establishment Is Just Who Shows Up

Blah blah establishment argle bargle establishment wah wah establishment blurp.

Enough already, BernieBros, BernieorBusters and DemExiters. There’s nothing easier than waking up one day, deciding you care about issue x, y or z and proceeding to scream at all the people someone has told you are responsible for things having not progressed as far to the right, left, top or bottom of that issue as you’d like.

Turns out, all those people did was show up, every day, over many years, to work on those issues plus a whole mess of other issues that aren’t even on your radar. They are the dreaded Establishment you speak of for no other reason than that they went to their local precinct meetings, congressional district caucuses, county and state conventions, served on standing committees, volunteered for candidates and ballot initiatives, gathered signatures, made phone calls, ran for office, etc.

Now you want that ship to turn on a dime because you got woke about, like, two or three things?

Well guess what, assholes? That’s not how it works. Here’s how it works: you start to show up, every day, over many years, to bring about the change you wish to see in the world. You stop bitching and moaning about what the Establishment is or is not doing and you go become the establishment. You’re likely to learn that it’s a hell of a lot more complicated than you thought and that ideological purity is not sustainable, but that persistent effort in the trenches can and will yield incremental change that, over time, adds up to important stuff.

There must be an establishment. Civilized society is built on the backs of public servants who care enough to get involved at every level. An establishment is, ultimately, what created the conditions that led to you having a tiny computer in your pocket that helped you find Bernie rallies where you could show hot chicks how progressive you were and maybe hookup after.

Fortunately, the establishment can be whatever you want it to be. Not today and not tomorrow, but you could be starting to shape it as soon as 2018 if you work your asses off and get a lot of your likeminded compatriots to join you. No one will stop you. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz will not be at the door of your next county meeting checking establishment cards and requiring the secret handshake. You’ll be shocked by how easy it is to waltz in and become part of the process.

NOTE: Rallies are not part of this process. Do them, by all means, but don’t kid yourself that they constitute meaningful civic engagement. If we’ve learned anything from recent events, it’s that any old jackass can scrounge up twenty or thirty thousand enthusiastic idiots for to cheer for crap they know nothing about.

The Democratic National Committee will vote this weekend to elect a new chairperson. 447 members will vote.  You can see who they are HERE. They are “the chairs and vice-chairs of each state Democratic Party committee and over 200 members elected by Democrats in all 50 states and the territories.” If you don’t like the person they select, you can make it your goal to become a voting member someday, or you can work at the local and state level to support the election of members who represent your views.

Or you can throw more tantrums and continue to try to tear apart one of the only entities that can serve as a check on Donald Trump.

2. Only One Way To Oppose Gorsuch

Pretend for a moment that we live in normal times where the normal rules apply and people behave like normal people. In such a world, the following statements would be uncontroversial: the duly elected President of the United States has every right to fill a vacant seat on the Supreme Court with a qualified nominee of his or her choosing; the Senate’s role is essentially to vet that nominee’s qualifications and temperament, to ensure that a lifetime appointment is not being handed to a lunatic.

In other words, there’s every expectation that liberal presidents will appoint left-leaning judges and that conservative presidents will appoint right-leaning judges, imprinting the will of the people on the judiciary. It is a huge perk of winning the White House and should be foremost in our minds when we vote in presidential elections.

Under normal circumstances, my position on the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch would be as follows: I disagree with him on almost every issue where I know anything about his position and I would not like him to be on the Supreme Court. Having said all of that, he is a serious, smart, well-qualified judge and, barring any unexpected revelations in his confirmation hearings, he should be expeditiously confirmed. Democratic Senators should not vote against him on ideological grounds, just as Republican Senators should not vote against the judicial nominations of Democratic presidents on ideological grounds.

There is only one basis upon which to oppose Gorsuch, namely, that this seat was stolen from President Barack Obama by Mitch McConnell and the Republican Senate. This is an argument worth making, but it should not be conflated or confused with the argument that Gorsuch is too conservative for our taste. Of course he’s too conservative—that’s why we shouldn’t have allowed Donald Trump to become President. And that’s where even this compelling argument is on shaky ground. Yes, Scalia’s seat was stolen, but we had a chance to take it back. All we had to do was elect Hillary Clinton. We failed to do that knowing full well what the result would be.

Then again, if we’re to take Mitch McConnell at his word that “the people should have a voice” in filling Scalia’s seat, we should probably look to the popular vote for their opinion on the matter.

The bottom line is that Gorsuch’s positions on the issues we care about are just not relevant to the confirmation process. Opposing him on these grounds opens the door to having left-leaning nominees blocked if/when the situation is reversed. It would be a mistake to think that Democratic Senators somehow owe it to us to further destabilize and degrade the system because we fucked up and left them in the minority with Donald Trump as President.

Published in Miscellany

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