Is it time for the dems to fight dirty?

So Vox interviewed a guy who wrote a book which is basically the democratic response to the “Flight 93” blog post.

Short version:

**Sean Illing
In the book, you say that Democrats are engaged in “policy fights” and Republicans are waging a “procedural war.” What does that mean?

David Faris

The Constitution is a shockingly short document, and it turns out that it’s extremely vague on some key procedures that we rely on to help government function at a basic level. For the government to work, cooperation between parties is needed. But when that cooperation is withdrawn, it creates chaos.

Since the ’90s, when Newt Gingrich took over Congress, we’ve seen a one-sided escalation in which Republicans exploit the vagueness or lack of clarity in the Constitution in order to press their advantage in a variety of arenas — from voter ID laws to gerrymandering to behavioral norms in the Congress and Senate.

Another very important point the author brings up: policy basically doesn’t matter. There’s non-trivial evidence that people’s voting decisions are almost completely untethered from policy - people are just no good at connecting policy decisions to their source, and even worse at connecting policy outcomes to their source.

I’ve seen similar sentiments echoed elsewhere - the democrats need to start fighting dirty and breaking norms in the same way, or else things are only going to keep getting worse. Keep in mind that in this case, “fighting dirty” means trying unprecedented or norm-breaking things. Not illegal things - there’s nothing illegal about splitting California into 7 different states (and indeed, the idea that California and Wyoming can have the same number of senators is kind of a farce to begin with), or adding extra seats to the supreme court. As one commenter on DailyKos argues, this isn’t really “fighting dirty”.

On one hand, such moves are absolutely an escalation. On the other, this escalation currently is entirely one-sided, with one side falling increasingly further and further outside of the norms of both the system and good governance, and constantly appealing to norms when only one side is willing to uphold them is a recipe for disaster:

I don’t think we can restore order by respecting rules that are not respected by Republicans. I do believe we’ll have to find a way to end this procedural war at some point, but now is not that time. Republicans need to know what it’s like to be on the other end of normative violations. The Republicans are behaving like a party that believes it will never be held accountable for anything they’re doing, and so far they haven’t been.

That has to change before we can fix this mess.

The article brings up the way the republican party essentially stole a seat on the supreme court, which segways nicely into the most recent piece of evidence for the need to fight dirty - the supreme court just gave its stamp of approval for one such piece of procedural warfare.

The US Supreme Court on Monday upheld Ohio’s system for purging voters from the rolls.

The Court split 5-4 along partisan lines, with the five conservative-leaning justices, in a majority opinion by Justice Samuel Alito, upholding the system and the four liberal-leaning justices opposing it. The ruling focused in large part on technical interpretations of federal voting laws, although the argument underlying Ohio’s system is, in fact, a much bigger one about voter suppression.

So what is Ohio’s voter purge system? It’s a means of removing voter registrations that the state feels are outdated from its rolls — forcing someone to have to register once again to vote.

Now, call me crazy, but I get the feeling Merrick Garland would not have provided the swing vote in favor of this voter suppression policy.

And this is how things compound - republicans steal a supreme court seat, which allows them to avoid challenges to laws which exist solely to make it harder to vote (which disproportionately benefit them), which makes it harder and harder for the democrats to ever regain control.

So at what point is it worth it to start firing back and breaking political norms to the same degree? At what point do we have our “Flight 93” election?

They don’t have a problem fighting dirty among themselves. They do need to fight Republicans, clean or dirty doesn’t matter, they just have to stop curling up in a fetal position when the Republicans look at them sideways.

And I think you mean ‘seque’ into the most recent piece of evidence, not riding a scooter into it. Or maybe not, you tell us.

I don’t think “playing dirty” against these particular politicians works unless you are prepared to START by playing FAR dirtier than they ever have. Bullies only really respond to immediate overwhelming force. You can’t “ramp up” over time - they see what you’re doing and easily find ways to stop you.

The problem is that to play dirtier than they already have is ethically disgusting.

I don’t see the escalation being one sided. You bring up Garland, but before Garland was Miguel Estrada. Democrats and Republicans both use procedural moves to advance their goals. Currently the Democrats just haven’t been as good at it. Scrubs basically.

The prolbem is that there is a double standard between the parties as far as acceptance of fighting dirty. Republicans can get away with it because the conservative base tolerates dirty tricks and misinformation as long as it favors their side. The dirtier the Republcans are the more their base will support them. Liberals on the other hand tend to be idealists who are concerned for others beyond themselves. If Democrats start fighting too dirty they are going to lose their base.

Compare the negative effects of Trumps constant insults had on his run as compared to Clinton’s single “deplorables” comment. Also note that attempts to make a left wing equivalent’s to Fox news or Limbaugh always fail because Liberals don’t like being lied to as much as conservatives seem to.

It sucks that this is the case, but that’s what you get for working on the side of the angels.

So because one side fights dirty and crazy, it’s time for the other side to fight dirty and crazy too.

This should bode well for the nation.

Without making this a Gorsuch thread - there’ve been dozens of those - what were Republicans supposed to do?

Scalia was a solidly conservative justice. Garland was not. Holding a vote on Garland would have run the risk of replacing a solidly conservative justice with one who’s not. The math was simple.

This right here is the problem. Democrats do not tolerate the kind of behavior republicans both tolerate and embrace.

At root, the issue is that people who score high on authoritarianism have taken over the GOP.

That is one of the biggest (if not the root) cause of our political polarization. About 20-25% of the public in any nation score high on authoritarianism. Since the 1990s at minimum, people high in this have been moving to the GOP and people low have been moving towards the democrats.

The end result now is that the republican party is made up of voters who, to a very large and scary degree, do not value or respect democracy or western values. Voting rights, human rights, civil rights, etc. Lots of them are ok with Putin hacking our elections because they consider the democrats their real enemy, and they welcome Putin’s help in stopping their real enemy.

Yes I know not all republicans are like that. But look at a poll of republicans. No matter how outlandish, stupid or evil an idea is, generally about ~50% of republicans agree with it. Pizzagate, Obama is a muslim, Roy Moore was framed, Obama is Kenyan, Uranium-one, Trump should delay the 2020 elections, millions voted illegally in 2016, etc. I’d wager those 50% who believe idiotic, untrue, undemocratic things tend to overlap with those who score highest on authoritarianism.

I don’t know what the answer is. It feels like an Israel/Palestine issue in a lot of ways. The Israelis are trying to play by the rules of the west, and the Palestinians are not. Or any kind of war on terror type war. One side believes in democracy, human rights and liberal values. The other side believes in theocracy, dictatorship and human shields.

Not saying the GOP is that bad, but they are getting there. As white christian men become a smaller and smaller % of the country and hold fewer and fewer positions of power, expect them and their allies to become more and more radicalized and hostile to democracy.

They could have waited for a Republican President and a seat to open on the Court. Like has been done since the dawn of the country.

I’m somewhat faling over myself laughing because I’ve seen the exact same argument, with a similar list of greivances and whines and complaints frm the other side. They didn’t like either if I tried to point they weren’t exactly as dqueaky clain as they liked to imagine. Of course, it was completely different when their side did those nasty things, too.

I don’t know if I’d say fighting dirty, but just plain fighting, yeah.

The Democrats need to fight smarter, that’s all. You’ll recall that Democrats didn’t put up a huge fight at the time about the Garland mess. Lotsa grumbling, just to show displeasure. And all with the thought that they would just nominate someone more to the left after Hillary won the presidency.
Not smart.
Let’s see if Democrats can be smarter- I’m not holding my breath.

Yes, it is high time that the Dems start fighting dirty as hell. I don’t care if the base of the party is more indignant to such tactics; they can be dragged along and will likely be supportive after the Dems start producing tangible policy outcomes.

Shame Gorsuch into resigning; failing that, impeach him or just add more SCOTUS seats so that he spends the rest of his life writing angry dissents that nobody cares about. Depending on the results of the Mueller investigation, the Dems should take a similar tactic towards all of Trump’s court nominees.

When the GOP goes low, the Dems have to start going lower. Aiming for the high ground all the time is surely helping Hillary Clinton during all her free time spent not being president.

The idea that conforming to the exact requirements in the text of 52 USC § 20507(d)(1)(B) amounts to “technical interpretations of federal voting laws,” is funny to me.

In fact, that entire quote exposes what I feel is at the root of the different perceptions at odds here. The author the OP quotes says, “The ruling focused in large part on technical interpretations of federal voting laws, although the argument underlying Ohio’s system is, in fact, a much bigger one about voter suppression.”

The author evidently believes that the proper role of judges is to look beyond the words in the law and use their wise judgement about how things should be done-- they should just decide, apparently, that Congress wrote those words, but they MEANT something different, in order to fix the problem they perceive that Ohio is using Congress’ words to suppress voters.

That’s not an unusual view. Plenty of people – plenty of judges, in fact – would agree that such is the proper role of the judiciary. They’d say the judiciary should help shape the law to conform to the growing and changing conscience of enlightenment of the nation, that judges can and should make law to do what is right, and not merely apply the law the legislature has written.’

But I don’t agree with this view.

And more persuasively, I believe that insisting on reading and applying the actual text of the law is not in any way fairly characterized as fighting dirty. It’s simply taking what Congress wrote in 52 USC § 20507 and using it. If the result of that means that it’s harder for voters to stay registered, then the proper fix is found either in Columbus, at 77 S. High St, or in Washington DC at 45 Independence Ave SW.

It is NOT found in Washington DC at 1 First St NE.

Ah, the solution to this perceived procedural problem is to use that process! Got it! :rolleyes:

Bricker is correct. Having judges “make laws to do what is right” only sounds like a splendid idea as long as the judge’s idea of what is right and yours are the same.


So Bricker, if following the model of the OP we wait until two Republican legistators “happen to get food poisoning” making them unable to vote, and then we pass a law in Virginia that says that all residents need to show ID in order to vote and the only ID we will accept is union cards student ID’s, and a state provided ID that is available at the Colonial Williamburg courthouse between the hours of 12:00 and 12:15. You see the legality of what we have done and go on your merry way?

Or would you look to some activist judges to maybe take a look at it to see if its Kosher.

Of course with the understanding that if we managed to pack the court with two additional judges who agreed our way then you’d admit you must have been wrong.

Their fucking job? Hey, turns out, sometimes you don’t get to have a partisan lock on the supreme court.

Instead, they took the unprecedented move of completely denying to seat a justice for the final year of a president’s term - not because the judges proposed were unqualified or radical partisans, but because they couldn’t bear having anyone short of a republican hardliner in that seat.

I don’t suppose your response would be the same if, the next time the democrats had control of congress and the white house, their response was to add two new seats and fill them with young democratic hardliners. After all, what are they supposed to do - just accept a permanent republican majority on the court? Yes, it’s an escalation, but the end result is exactly the same - using power in the other two branches of government to gain an unreasonable advantage in the judicial branch.

Well, as you might put it, “the math is simple”. In a game of iterated prisoner’s dilemma, if one side constantly picks “defect”, you’d have to be a complete fucking idiot to continue picking “cooperate”.

Yes, it’s a damn shame that the going norms of political action are no longer tenable. It’s a damn shame that we’re at the point where one party feels like it can flout whatever norm it wants to gain more political power. But the response to that cannot be “roll over and die”. If the voting public refuses to punish the side that’s fighting dirty and crazy (remind me - which party do you usually vote for? :wink: ), or worse yet, the voting public overwhelming votes for one party and gets another due to structural barriers to power (which it does) then what choice is there?

I still don’t see how you can think that the escalation is one sided from Republicans. In the context of judicial nominees, Garland is simply a furtherance of the continuum that has been escalated since…well a long time from both Republicans and Democrats.

It’s not merely a difference in quality when one side doesn’t get to nominate a judge and the other side doesn’t get radical or unqualified judges confirmed but gets bipartisan support for others.