A leftover from last week, but because it mostly got lost in the holiday weekend shuffle, it seemed worthy of a circle-back. Though he's not exactly a dynamo of oratorical excitement, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell consistently delivers smart, incisive remarks on important issues. He also has a history of demonstrating prescience about impending Democratic power grabs. As such, I strongly recommend you take approximately six minutes to watch the floor speech he delivered on July 2nd, the subject of which is the opposition party's aggressive, outcomes-oriented assaults on American governing institutions.
We are constantly treated to lectures about the unique threat President Trump poses to norms and institutions, yet many of his ideological opponents openly toy with, or explicitly advocate, abolishing or "reforming" institutions that they don't sufficiently control. Even before elements of the Left turned their sights on the founders, we'd already written about growing pushes to delegitimize the electoral college, US Senate, and US Supreme Court -- the latter of which several Democratic Senators ostentatiously threatened with a "restructuring" if a specific case didn't go their way. They're also now embracing DC statehood with renewed vigor, for nakedly political reasons.
Furthermore, despite their last "nuclear" filibuster foray blowing up in their faces at the hands of Trump and Senate Republicans, Democrats are again chirping about detonating yet another tool of the minority (which they've used recently, prominently, and indefensibly) as soon as they regain power. McConnell has witnessed all of this play out, through rhetoric and actions, and evidently decided it was time to spell and call it out:
No longer do disappointments for Democrats mean that Democrats need better arguments. Now, disappointments for Democrats are claimed as proof that our country is fundamentally broken or that James Madison messed something up. So while we have far-left mobs attacking statues of our Founding Fathers from coast to coast… we have far-left politicians attacking the institutions they left us. Step back and look at the landscape of fundamental changes that leading Democrats or their close allies are demanding: Amending the First Amendment, to restrict its protections. Ending the Electoral College. Packing the Supreme Court with new Justices. Packing the Senate with new states. And — to accomplish all this— destroying the Senate’s distinguishing feature that makes radical change hard by design. We have an entire political movement that is telling us out loud they’ve lost patience with playing by the rules and may well declare war on the rulebook itself.
Just days after Democrats used the filibuster power to block Senator Scott’s police reform bill, even colleagues who recently defended this important tradition have bowed to the pressure to flirt with ending it. On a similar note, you may remember that a kind of naked intimidation without modern precedent took place a few months ago. The Democratic Leader stood by the steps of the Supreme Court and directly threatened Justices if they ruled the wrong way in the June Medical Services case. This display aligned with a whole new tradition of Senate Democrats threatening judges. A year ago, several wrote the Justices saying, quote, “the Court is not well [and] perhaps the Court can heal itself before the public demands it be ‘restructured.’” In other words: Nice judicial independence you’ve got there. It would be a shame if something happened to it. Right on cue, a number of left-wing groups are agitating to revive the discredited notion of court-packing.
Now, following the Democratic Leader’s display, the Court ruled the way he wanted on that very case. They handed it down on Monday. And our colleague took to the floor, cracking jokes, giddy he had gotten his way. But just moments later, the Democratic Leader picked right up where he’d left off, impugning and pressuring one Justice whose vote he disliked. You see, the improper pressure and the accusations of illegitimacy will never end. No amount of rulings the Democrats like would be enough. Because the fundamental respect for an independent judiciary is not there. This is about outcomes, not institutions, and there is no limit to how far left the goalposts will move.
The second bolded excerpt seems targeted directly at a certain sitting Chief Justice, whose decisive votes on a number of major hot-button cases almost appear to be designed to avoid or sidestep the ire of the political Left -- perhaps with an eye toward tamping down their implied ultimatums and radical designs. But such placations are fleeting, and will always give way to new demands, or else. Previous concessions or "reasonable" decisions will be discarded and forgotten the very moment the next crucial case comes along, or the latest outcome breaks against progressives' wishes. The current cause is always the most important, and all perspective is jettisoned. Political blackmailers don't just stop their practices; indeed, rewarding their tactics incentivizes more of the same. Unfortunately, it seems to be working. McConnell cannily and appropriately frames this critique as a shot across Schumer's bow, but the secondary audience is obvious.
A tertiary audience is voters. If the bottom continues to fall out from underneath the Trump campaign, the GOP Senate majority will be in extreme peril. And a Schumer-led Democratic majority, especially within the context of single-party governance, could have profound consequences. Denying the seriousness of the current stakes requires ignoring Democrats' own words and actions. McConnell is practically begging everyone involved to pay attention. I'll leave you with this:
Democrat Senator Tammy Duckworth says she’s open to tearing down statues of George Washington. pic.twitter.com/ifL8rbxUau— Arthur Schwartz (@ArthurSchwartz) July 5, 2020