Why Democrats Shouldn’t Play Hardball

4 mins read

LeiliHana asked:

Yesterday I talked about why the criminal justice system is inadequate to deal with our current crisis.

LeiliHana (and others on Twitter) are asking why we can’t remove the lawbreakers from office ASAP.

The reason: There is no legal way to remove them before the election. And acting outside the law would be the worst thing the Democrats can do.

First, recall why the Republicans are desperate enough to cheat. The Republicans are on a collision course with time. Their base is aging and shrinking.

These stats from this lecture by Harvard Prof. Steven Levitsky:

These stats are from the census bureau:

These stats are from Pew:

In 2018, young people had the largest increase in voter turnout. You can see why the GOP sees that its medium and long-term prospects are poor. They understand as soon as they lose power, inevitable legislative changes will make minority rule harder. Hence, the desperation that leads to the norm and rule-breaking that we see.

(We went though this in California. See this post.)

That’s why they play hardball. Hardball tactics put stress on democratic institutions. Hardball batters and destroys them.

The Democratic Party has morphed into the party of urban intellectuals, minority communities, and young people.The Democratic Party has excellent medium and long-term prospects.

Levitsky explains that we’re in a political earthquake, undergoing a transition from a white Christian (male) dominated America to a true liberal democracy.

Liberal democracy is incompatible with minority rule.

The greatest danger to democracy is what Levitsky calls “escalation” because then both sides are battering the institutions. “Escalation,” says Levitsky, “rarely ends well.”

You don’t respond to an earthquake by putting MORE pressure on already weakened structures. The way to respond to an earthquake is to move quickly to strengthen the weakened structures. Because the Democrats have good medium and long term prospects it is in their interests to avoid hardball to preserve the institutions so there’s less rebuilding later.

When you understand that, the way the Democrats handled impeachment (and all of Schiff’s speeches) make sense. If both sides fight dirty (or ignore the law altogether) who is left to claim the high road? Cynicism can kill democracy faster than Trump.

Cynical people disengage. They think none of it matters. They think both sides are alike so it doesn’t matter who wins the election. Today someone posted this on my thread:

The above was either posted by a Russian bot, a chaos agent, or an avid Fox viewer. (It’s hard to tell.)

If both sides ARE alike, how do we fight cynicism?

(The antidote to cynicism, by the way, is easy: Hold onto principles)

The future is (can be) democratic and diverse, so Democrats must try to preserve the institutions as much as possible during the rattling.

By “strengthen institutions” I mean individual citizens taking personal responsibility. Like this.

[View as a Twitter thread]

Originally posted on Musing about Law, Books, and Politics.
Re-posted with permission.


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Teri has written novels, short stories, nonfiction for both young readers and adults, and lots of legal briefs. She is currently working on a book on disinformation to be published by Macmillan Publishers. Her political commentary has appeared on the NBC Think Blog and CNN.com. Her articles and essays have appeared in publications as diverse as Education Week, Slate Magazine, and Scope Magazine. Her short fiction has appeared in the American Literary View, The Iowa Review, and others. For twelve years she maintained a private appellate law practice limited to representing indigents on appeal from adverse rulings. She believes with the ACLU that when the rights of society's most vulnerable members are denied, everybody's rights are imperiled. She also believe with John Updike that the purpose of literature is to expand our sympathies. Teri lives with her family on the beautiful central coast in California.

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