Law professor Josh Blackman wrote a much-discussed opinion piece in the New York Times the other day called “Trump Acts Like a Politician. That’s Not an Impeachable Offense“.
Professor Blackman describes how politicians have long made foreign and domestic policy decisions with politics in mind:
Politicians pursue public policy, as they see it, coupled with a concern about their own political future. Otherwise legal conduct, even when plainly politically motivated — but without moving beyond a threshold of personal political gain — does not amount to an impeachable “abuse of power.”
Professor Blackman lays bare but does not explore Democrats’ core motivation for impeaching a president they know full well they cannot convict:
Whether they remove the president or not, Democrats are working to turn “politics” into an unacceptable motivation for elected leaders–in effect, into a crime.
POLITICS: THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL
Over the last 50 years, the American people has become disgusted by politics–its uncertainties, messy contradictions, lies of convenience, quid pro quos, and especially its bickering. As Professor Jonathan Haidt describes in his latest book The Coddling of the American Mind, younger Americans in particular are growing up intensely conflict avoidant.
A number of Americans–and not just registered Democrats–don’t want politicians to fight with one another over the best course of action for the country. They want politicians to choose the “right” course of action and get it done without politicking around.
Democrats have proved themselves acutely sensitive to the electorate’s fantasy of a conflict-free government. Their overarching message to the American people could be summed up:
“Unlike Republicans and the so-called president, we Democrats know that politics is icky and wasteful. We don’t make decisions based on politics. In fact, we aren’t even politicians–we are ACTIVISTS, like all of you. We make right decisions based on truth, kindness, science, fairness, compassion, civility, justice, safety, and democracy.
“All we want is to transcend politics-as-usual. And if you allow us to seize power, we’ll enforce what’s right on the country without a lot of fuss. In fact, we’ll make contentious political speech illegal.”
In pursuit of criminalizing political disagreement, Democrats have styled politics as the root of all evil. Politics (so the story goes) keeps us from coming together and redecorating the economy around the kill-us-all-in-12-years threat of climate change. Politics keeps us from redistributing the billionaires’ ill-gotten gains to solve income inequality and homelessness. Politics grants demagogues a platform to deploy racist dog whistles and “lie.” Politics allows Vladimir Putin to get on Facebook and murder democracy.
In sum, politics keeps us from turning the management of all our stubborn social problems over to experts, so they can finally fix them once and for all.
The left seems to operate under the belief that there’s no problem a bunch of supposedly nonpartisan experts and administrators with truckloads of state money cannot address, if only politics and politicians would get out of the way.
THE POLITICS BAN WIDENS
Democrats’ suppression of political conflict doesn’t confine itself to the president and other Republican politicians. Liberal legal activists have launched a subsurface torpedo to disrupt President Trump’s appointment of federal judges as well, based on certain judges’ legal philosophy. Susan Crabtree at RealClearPolitics writes:
The ethical advisory arm of the federal judiciary is quietly circulating a draft rule that would ban judges and their clerks from belonging to the Federalist Society, an organization aimed at fostering an originalist interpretation of the Constitution at law schools and through forums and debates across the country.
The proposed rules change is the latest salvo in a campaign to cast the Federalist Society as too political, and thereby politically risky, for judiciary participation.
“Double standard” doesn’t even begin to describe what liberals on the advisory committee are proposing here. The left-leaning American Bar Association mounts progressive legal hobbyhorses all the time, but judges are allowed to join the ABA:
[Prominent Federalist Society member Ed] Whalen pointed out that the ABA spends significant sums of money lobbying and routinely writes amicus briefs in ongoing litigation, two practices the Federal Society avoids: “In short, the ABA has a consistent and longstanding practice of advocating liberal causes. If a line is to be drawn between the Federalist Society and the ABA, it is the ABA that should be deemed to be on the wrong side of the line.”
On the one hand, progressive activists seek to associate liberal legal philosophy with “normal” and “neutral.” On the other hand, they conflate conservative legal philosophy with unethical political partisanship:
ABA President Judy Perry Martinez said a Code of Conduct Committee advisory opinion found that membership in the ABA isn’t a problem for federal judges because it “recognizes the ABA’s core mission is concerned with the improvement of the law in general and advocacy for the legal profession.”
Again: “WE just want to make things better and do what is right; but conservative judges are trying to enforce THEIR politics from the bench.”
WHAT’S HIDDEN STILL HAPPENS
Politics is inevitable, and inevitably messy and conflict-ridden. Americans’ desire to deny politics and hide it from their eyesight won’t make politics go away.
Politics hidden from the public will continue in secret–in clandestine spying campaigns against politicians by the FBI and CIA; in backroom deals and corruption; in campaigns of suppression by administrators and committees against conservative judges, alternative media, and ideologically errant academics.
Authentic government, justice, and social improvement unfolds in the open, an often contentious back-and-forth. Democrats’ efforts to sanitize and suppress political disagreement to placate an avoidant public risks pressure buildup and explosion.
Politics may be uncomfortable; but hidden politics threatens to turn the United States into an Orwellian country with a split political personality: a civil and conflict-free facade masking an unspeakable and dangerously unstable ideological war underneath.