Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center.
As part of his pretense that the presidential race is over, Joe Biden indulged the banal “time for healing” and “we’re all Americans” rhetoric. But we shouldn’t be fooled. Even before Barack Obama’s dishonest “no red state, no blue state” campaign lies were followed by a hyper-partisan, divisive administration, we’ve known that the increasingly left-leaning Democrats will endorse “any means necessary” tactics to work their political will.
And we also know that too many Republicans will fall for the Dems’ rhetorical bait-and-switch. We shouldn’t let them get away with it this time, for we’re facing a hard fight ahead to minimize the damage that the “woke” Democrats will try to inflict on our Constitution. It’s time to fight, not “heal.”
First, anyone paying attention for the last few decades knows that every time a Democrat starts talking about “reaching across the aisle” and “bipartisanship,” he’s getting ready to pick your pocket. Such bromides are really euphemisms for serving their policy preferences rather than conservative ones, after which they’ll pat you on the head as a “good Republican” or a “maverick” for betraying your conservative principles.
Meanwhile, few Democrats reciprocate. They never cringe preemptively before Republicans lest the Donks call them bad names. Outright racialist behavior such as consorting with a race-hack like Al Sharpton or an avowed anti-Semite like Louis Farrakhan is indulged, and any complaint contemptuously dismissed by Democrat Senators and House Representatives, even as they endlessly chant “racist” or “white supremacist” at Republicans.
The most egregious, and consequential, example of this double standard is seen at Supreme Court nomination hearings. Go back to Robert Bork’s hearings in 1987. Bork was one of the most qualified jurists in modern times. His confirmation should have been swift and uncontroversial. But under the direction of Judiciary Committee head Joe “time for healing” Biden, who took point on the hearings, they devolved into a concerted, duplicitous smear-campaign against Bork. Before they even began, Ted Kennedy orated before the full Senate with rhetoric that every NeverTrump upholders of “norms” and “decorum” should write a hundred times on a blackboard:
Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, and schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens
As Mary McCarthy said of Lillian Helman’s memoirs, every word of this smear was a lie, including “the” and “and.”
Four years later, Biden orchestrated the “high-tech lynching” of Clarence Thomas. After the hearings were over and while the Senate was deliberating, the Dems produced Anita Hill, a former subordinate of Thomas at the EEOC, who accused him of making inappropriate sexual comments. The hearing was reopened, and Thomas smeared with grotesque charges denied by four other female EEOC colleagues.
Thomas’s comments on the spectacle can stand as a summary of the Democrats’ low, any-means-necessary, racialist tactics:
This is not an opportunity to talk about difficult matters privately or in a closed environment. This is a circus. It’s a national disgrace. And from my standpoint, as a black American, it is a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas, and it is a message that unless you kowtow to an old order, this is what will happen to you. You will be lynched, destroyed, caricatured by a committee of the U.S. Senate rather than hung from a tree.
And we still remember the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, in which similar slanderous accusations–– sprung at the last minute, but even worse for being decades in the past––were employed to derail a justice not on his merits or qualifications, but on ideological grounds and political policies like abortion that comprise the progressive cult dogma.
Now try and think of anything remotely similar being inflicted on Democrat nominees. In 2009, Sonia Sotomayor, despite troubling racialist statements about what a “wise Latina” could bring to the Court, was swiftly confirmed after hearings in which other than a few Republicans, no challenging questions were asked. A year later Elena Kagan was confirmed after a similarly decorous and gentle hearing. Never in recent years has a Democrat nominee been subjected to the vicious smears and hounding that Bork, Thomas, and Kavanaugh were subjected to. And yet people, including so-called conservatives, blame Donald Trump for divisiveness and wrecking of “norms,” while Joe Biden, the Luca Brasi of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is marketed as the emblem of lost comity, genteel traditions, and “democratic norms.”
We all know that since the Sixties, and increasing every decade since then, the Democrats have moved farther left from the center and increasingly employed the scorched-earth tactics typical of the left. This development reached its peak during the Obama years, when the IRS was weaponized against Republican and conservative political organizations; and the White House began an illegal investigation into Donald Trump’s campaign and administration, in which high-ranking officials from the CIA, FBI, and DOJ participated, many moving on to the specious Mueller investigation that wasted $32 million and two years on a political ad for the Democrats. Meanwhile, progressive allies in government, media, sports, tech, and entertainment waged a relentless smear campaign against the President, egged on by Congressmen staging show-trial “hearings” for the news cameras.
So forgive us for turning a jaundiced eye on Biden’s clichés of “healing” and “unity.” More importantly, such talk bespeaks the guild mentality of like-minded and socio-economically similar technocrats, not the divided and balanced republic the Constitution created for we the people. Apart from times of war and natural disasters, unity should trouble us, for widespread agreement is usually the prelude to concentrations of power that facilitate tyranny.
The Founders distrusted excessive power, so they created a government of separate powers, each designed to check the encroachments of the other, and all checked and balanced by the sovereign states. This structure, along with elections every two years, has been the bulwark of our freedom. But for a century progressives have chipped away at that defense. The executive branch has expanded its size and scope by increasing the number of agencies and expanding their regulatory reach. The states were weakened when the power to select Senators was taken from state legislatures and given to the people. Given the Senate’s power to check the executive––confirming federal justices and cabinet members, declaring war, ratifying treaties––that change reduced the leverage state houses had over the executive. And don’t forget the federal money doled out to states for signing on to various redistributionist programs and illiberal federal regulations. As the British used to say about joining the army, “He who takes the king’s shilling is the king’s man.” State sovereignty has been weakened by this devil’s bargain.
As a result, over that time the scope of our freedom has been reduced, and the Bill of Rights hemmed in by restrictions and regulations. Matters of private conscience to be debated at the local or state level have been usurped by the feds and a hubristic Supreme Court. The very evils the Revolutionary generation fought against––overweening unaccountable power wielded by a distant sovereign––have been insidiously creeping back, and explicit threats have been made against our First and Second Amendment rights, as well as the Electoral College that protects minority rights from the majority.
That’s what “unity” portends–– the reduction of political diversity and freedom by the encroachments of an expanding government power. What we call “gridlock,” the stasis that follows factional disputes, is not a flaw in the system, it is its purpose, and the means for stopping power’s encroachments by setting ambition against ambition. It is how politically we obey the rule “first do no harm.”
If, as seems likely, Biden is certified as the winner of the election, and the Republicans keep the Senate, we will see in the next few years the genius of the Constitution at work. The tyrannical ambitions of the “woke” left will be checked by the Senate and a Trump-appointed judiciary. And in two years the people will have the chance to confirm or revise the status quo.
So pay no attention to the duplicitous rhetoric of “unity” and “healing.” The Dems have for decades proven they’re not interested in reconciliation, but in power. Conservatives are not the “loyal opposition,” they are the “racist, sexist, xenophobic” enemy to be defeated by any means necessary. That means it’s time to fight, not to “heal.”