The Wimpy Democrats Must Now Fight Dirty

Brian Beutler from The New Republic is arguing that the Electoral College should vote however they want to vote and that this is an importance piece of resisting Trump:

The Electoral College is not going to make some random person president, and due to the chaos that might unleash, it’s hard to make an unequivocal argument that it should. But those who object to Electoral College hijinks on the grounds that liberals would be hypocritical to combat the Trumpian norm-breaking they decry with norm-breaking of their own should rethink their assumptions. Every time it has been within the power of a group of people to stop Trump, they have not done so, and they have been rewarded for their conformity to norms by the erosion of yet more, increasingly important ones. This might be the decision point at which that pattern breaks down, but at least some agnosticism is in order. It is terrifyingly likely that months into Trump presidency, we will look back and admit that December’s Electoral College antics were fairly unremarkable, and that they should have gone further.

This has been the problem facing Democrats for the last 8 years, given the unprecedented  obstruction the Obama administration faced. Whether it’s dealing with the debt ceiling or various ways to place Merrick Garland on SCOTUS with or without explicit Senate consent, there have been no shortage of ideas for circumventing the GOP’s obstructionist tactics. Yet, they have been ignored because of the dangerous precedent they would set; both parties then would be ignoring democratic norms, only furthering the decay. It is best, the theory was, to have one party behave like adults for the citizenry to rally behind.

This is a naive reading of this particular moment in American history. While it is ideal to respect all democratic norms, the Democrats are suffering from a nostalgia for a bipartisan politics that, insofar as it ever actually existed, itself was unique and atypical of American politics throughout history. Indeed, history is rife with examples of democratic norms breaking down or being ignored.  By playing the adult, the Democrats have allowed the Republican Party to control the narrative for the last 8 years. The 2016 election season proved their theory that eventually the adults will prevail wrong – simply behaving maturely will not win elections.

The Democrats (and all Never Trumpers) need to start responding to the GOP’s dramatic intransigence with equal amounts of drama. Make sure that the Electoral College voting goes off the rails. As Beutler says, Trump will likely end up being President anyhow, but it creates a big chasm between those who have capitulated to him and those who will continue to resist.Biden SHOULD try to push through Garland as Daily Kos suggests – this is no more absurd than what the GOP has done since Scalia died. There needs to be complete congressional obstruction; even though there’s limits to what the Democrats can actually prevent, they can be loud and aggressive and unapologetic. They need to be reminding America that Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton and that the Republicans garnered less votes than Democrats in both the House and the Senate races – if there is a popular mandate, it is NOT with the GOP. These things will do little to limit Trump and his collaborators, but it will build a counter-narrative of a party that represents the majority of the people who is tough and willing to get as dirty as it needs to defend the Republic and its ideals.


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