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Tue. Jul 16th, 2024

Opinion | Democrats have a lot of work ahead of them

By meerna Jul11,2024
Opinion | Democrats have a lot of work ahead of them

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This week I answer readers’ questions, look at examples of honest journalism, and describe some changes in the law.

A reader asks: Given his current immunity, can the president postpone the elections until next year?

Answer: No, but if he ordered the Justice Department to indict and arrest his opponent based on trumped-up evidence in the name of “national security,” he could not be criminally prosecuted.

A reader asks: There have been so many terrible decisions by this court, and many of them have ignored precedent. Why can’t a Democratic president add enough justices to make the court somewhat fair and overturn the worst decisions of this court?

Answer: Of course he could — but he would need Democratic majorities in the House and Senate to pass such legislation. Senate Democrats would also have to modify or eliminate the filibuster. The public might be much more sympathetic now after a series of rotten decisions, but first the Democrats would have to win!

A reader asks: Would Vice President Harris be the default Democratic presidential candidate, or could someone else be chosen? If so, who would you choose? Instead of a list, could you name just one person?

Answer: If President Biden were to decide to leave after the nomination became official, the Democratic National Committee would choose his successor; if he were to leave before the convention, delegates would choose a different candidate. I find it unthinkable that Democrats would ignore the first African-American woman, who has served ably and is adept at hitting MAGA Republicans on their most sensitive issues (e.g., abortion, Project 2025). She could inject the enthusiasm needed to bring young voters to the polls.

A reader asks: I don’t think the Democrats will expose the terror of Project 2025. Will it fall to celebrities like Taraji P. Henson?

Answer: You’re right: They haven’t done enough. But the campaign, elected Democrats, and Democratic activists (perhaps with the help of celebrities) have time to get this radical plan to undermine effective government and reshape America going. Democrats can single out a few of the most alarming items (e.g., replacing thousands of government workers with political appointees loyal only to former President Donald Trump, rounding up millions of undocumented immigrants for deportation, banning mifepristone). Third-party groups can focus on the items most salient to them (e.g., AARP can single out rising drug costs for seniors, teachers unions can focus on eliminating the Department of Education). Trump’s panicked attempt to kill Project 2025 suggests how juicy a target it is.

A reader asks: Everything I’ve read paints newly elected British Prime Minister Keir Starmer as the most boring, lifeless party leader in history. And yet Labour has just smashed the Tories so badly that it could effectively end the Conservative and Unionist parties. Maybe Americans shouldn’t panic about Biden? The Republican Party certainly deserves to die. We need a new party that at least requires candidates to understand the word “conservative.”

Answer: The British parliamentary system is far more focused on party and policy than personality. (Guilty!) That said, Democrats would benefit from reminding voters that whoever is at the top of the Democratic ticket will not seek dictatorial power, ban contraception and abortion, or withdraw from NATO. Democrats need to decide whether they can still make an effective case against MAGA Biden, or whether they can only reach voters without him.

A reader asks: Another sad commentary on the mentality of our media herd. They devour every morsel they can find about Biden’s brain condition. I have not seen a single article about the brain of a malignant narcissist and what that would portend for the judgment of someone who might lead our country. Why is Trump’s brain not a subject of attention?

Answer: I have railed against the media for irresponsibly downplaying (if not ignoring) the mental health issues raised by Trump’s unhinged rants, compulsive lies, verbal slips, incoherent ramblings, and bizarre digressions. This journalistic dishonesty results in a completely one-sided coverage of the candidates’ mental health. (So much for the vaunted commitment to “balance.”) But the media’s failure to adequately cover Trump is no excuse for Biden to remain in the race, to the detriment of his party and our democracy.

Democratic activists, elected officials, donors, and volunteers can only control so much. But while uncertainty grips the top of the ticket, the rest of the party has work to do. First, these groups need to raise public awareness of the danger the Supreme Court has created by immunizing the president from most criminal charges. Running against MAGA Republicans now means running against the court. Second, and equally terrifying, Project 2025 is a road map back to the turn of the century—the 20th century. Democrats should make sure all voters understand its implications. Ultimately, whether she’s at the top of the ticket or a No. 2 ready to step in if needed, Harris is an underappreciated asset. Democrats would be wise to showcase her considerable talent.

The Associated Press has a nearly perfect opening paragraph: “Donald Trump distanced himself from Project 2025, a massive proposed overhaul of the federal government by longtime allies and former officials in his administration, days after the head of a think tank behind the program suggested there would be a second American revolution.” The report continues: “The 922-page plan outlines a drastic expansion of presidential power and a plan to fire as many as 50,000 government workers and replace them with Trump supporters.”

The article lays out all the essential elements of the story: Trump’s deception in trying to distance himself from the plan; his allies’ threats to those who might oppose it (“We are in the midst of a second American revolution, and it will remain bloodless if the left allows it to be,” said Kevin Roberts of the Heritage Foundation); and the scope of the radical plan.

Defenders of democracy and sensible, sound governance should hope that others will follow the PA’s lead.

The New York Times reports: “The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday upheld abortion protections in the state constitution, invalidating Republican-backed laws that banned a common second-trimester abortion procedure and imposed additional licensing requirements for abortion clinics.” The case highlights how voters and courts in the state can serve to strengthen abortion rights in the face of Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

The Kansas Supreme Court in 2019 ruled that the state constitution’s “personal autonomy” protection guaranteed abortion rights. It therefore invalidated a 2015 law, SB 95, that restricted abortions in its second term. After voters overwhelmingly rejected a constitutional amendment to remove abortion protections from the state constitution, anti-abortion zealots returned to the court to overturn the previous order and uphold SB 95.

Unlike the U.S. Supreme Court, Kansas lawyers rejected the idea that a change in the court’s composition justified overturning a recently decided issue. (What a novel concept!) And the court methodically rejected arguments based on purely ideological assumptions:

The State devoted a significant portion of its motion to inviting us to reverse our earlier ruling in this case that the Kansas Constitution protects the right to abortion. We decline the invitation…

Throughout his brief and argument, he characterizes this interest as protecting the fetus from the medical community, protecting pregnant patients from the medical community, and protecting the integrity of the medical community. The State’s failure to establish a specific and concrete interest suggests to us that the district court was correct in ruling that the State failed to establish that this interest was compelling. But, again, we need not pursue this discussion, because the State’s total failure to establish any evidence supporting its position results in a clear failure to show that SB 95 advances any interest in protecting the integrity of the medical profession or in patient safety.

Given the U.S. Supreme Court’s MAGA bias, state courts and referendums may become the most important tools for protecting Americans’ freedoms.

Next week I will have my online Q&A session, so please join me send your questions. Questions submitted after next Wednesday will be sent to my next Mailbag newsletter.

By meerna

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