The Immutable Laws of Politics

Erick Erickson
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Posted: Feb 10, 2017 12:01 AM
The Immutable Laws of Politics

There are some rather immutable laws of politics Democrats forgot about, but only after Republicans forgot about them first. They explain where we are at as a country and what will happen next.

The first law is that there is no such thing as a permanent political majority. The corollary is that once in power, a party is prone to forget the first law of politics. Republicans overplayed their hand after the 2004 election and Democrats swept into power. The Democrats then worked like crazy to cement their dominance for eight years only to see voters reject them. The protests around the country now have more to do with the Democrats' unwillingness to accept voter rejection than anything else.

The second law is that once in power, a party will begin taking actions it would never want its opponents to take. The corollary is that both parties establish precedents that are then expanded by the other. President Bush expanded and enhanced domestic intelligence gathering after the September 11 attacks. President Obama, as a candidate, became deeply critical of this action. But once he was elected, President Obama expanded what President Bush had already done.

President Obama claimed he had a pen and paper and could govern by executive order. Having forgotten the first rule of politics, he set up Hillary Clinton as the most powerful president in American history with sweeping investigative, war and regulatory powers. Now the Democrats are scrambling and panicked that President Trump can use those precedents and powers.

We see this also in the Congress. The Democrats' fealty to abortion politics set terrible precedents the Republicans will now use against them. In the 1980s, Supreme Court hearings became character assassination campaigns all because of abortion. Robert Bork's hearing gave way to a new political verb, "bork," which means to assassinate one's character by characterizing his career and beliefs in the worst possible light.

Then, Senator Joe Biden refused to even hold hearings on President George H. W. Bush's judicial nominees in the last year of President Bush's term in office. Again, because of abortion politics, Senator Harry Reid and the Democrats scuttled the filibuster on all presidential nominations except the Supreme Court to stack both the executive branch and judiciary with as many abortion activists as possible.

The result was that Republicans refused, once they got power back in the Senate, to confirm any of President Obama's judges and denied a hearing on Merrick Garland. Now Republicans can stack President Trump's cabinet with conservatives over the loud objections of Democrats. Soon the Republicans will destroy the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees.

Republicans should be careful about scuttling that filibuster. Democrats have surely learned their lesson and Republicans have other means of overcoming a Democrat filibuster. They can, for example, enforce the "two-speech" rule. This rule requires that, on a single legislative day, no senator can speak more than twice. If the Republicans schedule the debate on Neil Gorsuch for a single legislative day, that day may last three full weeks in reality, but once each Democrat has spoken twice, debate will end without scrapping the filibuster.

The third law of politics is that all political processes move toward disorder until outside forces intervene. Protestors will protest, and those protests will escalate. Payback will escalate as will revenge politics. Then a terrorist attack, war, a natural disaster or an economic calamity will force both sides to stand out, regroup and focus on the common good. It will happen, and it is sad that it takes such an event to bring unity.

These laws of politics would not matter so much if voters of both parties would take power away from Washington. Right now, leftwing voters have every reason to join conservatives in neutering Washington. They do not want President Trump to have so much power. They should be willing to scale back their ambitions of an amoral, socialist utopia for the nation and just concentrate on the states. Let California be a paradise of married gay union activists aborting children. Let Texas be a paradise of Christian free marketeers with large families. Then see which works best.