Wednesday, September 23, 2020


Politico's John Harris writes:
There are two possible reasons why it would be rational for [Mitch McConnell] to act on the Supreme Court vacancy in a way that is so damaging to the reputation of the Senate, and so contemptuous of half of his Senate colleagues and of American voters.

One is that he expects his party to hold power a very long time. Who cares what the opposition thinks when they don’t matter now and won’t in the future?

The other is that he expects to hold power a very short time, or at least is keenly attuned to this possibility, and believes that once power is lost it is gone indefinitely. Under this scenario, it would make sense to lock in as many gains, as quickly as possible, for as long as possible. The enduring scorn of the opposition is an acceptable price to pay because the long-term contest is essentially over.

Which possibility more likely reflects the ruthless rationality of the McConnell mind?
Harris goes on to write about the demographic changes in America that are said to doom the Republican Party (how many years have we been hearing this?). Harris's conclusion:
The Republican Party’s sprint to install a justice for a life-time appointment this year, either days before a presidential election or in the lame-duck session afterward, looks a lot like the dying spasms of a political movement that began five decades ago.
But Harris is wrong. McConnell doesn't believe the GOP will be in power forever and he doesn't believe it will lose power soon, never to regain it.

What McConnell believes is that Republicans may well lose power in this election (though he and his allies will use every tool available to them in order to prevent that, including some that are more suited to an authoritarian dictatorship than a democracy). But even if they do lose power, they'll simply make America as ungovernable as they can for the Democrats starting in 2021, just the way they did starting in 1993 and 2009, with the expectation that they'll come roaring back in the next midterms, and (given the advanced age of the Democratic presidential nominee) possibly in the next presidential election.

In the meantime, they want to secure control (or I should say further control) over the federal judiciary, in part because GOP judges will be instrumental in their effort to ensure that the Biden presidency fails. GOP judges will also help ensure that Democratic-leaning voters will find it harder and harder to vote and harder and harder to overcome the hurdles preventing their votes from resulting in effective legislative majorities at the federal and state levels.

Harris's theory rests on the assumption that increasingly unpopular Republican policy will soon begin to fail badly at the ballt box because America will continue to be a genuine democracy. McConnell's strategy assumes that American democracy is expendable.

McConnell does expect his party to hold power a very long time, just as it's held power for the past forty years. He knows, however, that Democrats will nominally hold power at some moments in the future. His goal is to ensure that America remains essentially a one-party (i.e., Republican) state, even if Democrats manage to win the occasional election.

Our long-term goal should be to expose and ultimately thwart McConnell's plans.

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