There’s a piece at TPM from a lawyer with a group called Protect Democracy, and while I’ve looked at their stuff and find it generally founded in common ground, reading her column crystallized, for me, my frustration with a certain kind of bland, generic liberalism.
“Going into the 2020 election, many on the left are thinking about the work that the next president and Congress will have to do to repair the damage done since 2016 and address the crises Trump has created and exacerbated. Protect Democracy, for example, has proposed a package of legislative reforms to prevent presidential abuse of power. However, some have argued that Democrats should adopt some of the tactics Trump has used and bend some rules to set the country back on the correct course.
“This represents a big shift in the way we think about politics, and we need new terminology to accurately discuss what we believe in.”
Well, there’s an interesting premise: What, exactly, is that shift? What new framing, what new language, do we need to develop so that we’re talking about the actual problems, instead of proxy issues? Right?
But this lawyer never provides the answers to those questions. She recaps our sorry state of affairs, gives a dull example from her workplace to argue that Republicans aren’t all bad, vaguely cites some cautionary examples of basically illiberal liberal behavior, and then proposes that we pay attention to HOW Democratic candidates propose to implement their plans. Because that’s somehow indicative of some still undefined “new spectrum” in American politics.
In other words, she just wastes my fucking time. And to what end? Here’s her final graph:
“In order to solve the new problems we’ve been confronted with, we need new solutions. Democracy in the United States is not guaranteed, it’s an idea that each generation has to renew and redefine. By including this new political spectrum in our thinking, we can ensure that we work to preserve and perfect our democracy for future generations.”
Folks, that’s not just shitty writing, that’s lazy thinking. If you’re going propose an original premise, you’re on the hook for an original thought. And here’s my proposal: Independent of all the Fox News Republican Noise Machine propaganda, lame bullshit like this is why so many people just roll their eyes when liberals speak.
So let me edit this.
What’s the new spectrum? Power. Not economics. Not “social policies.” Where do you think power should reside within a society? How should it be distributed? How should it be restricted?
Why is that so hard to formulate? But now that’s established, we can discuss various positions on the slider.
And here’s mine: On Jan. 20, 2021, I want the Democratic President of the United States to sign an executive order immediately suspending every executive order issued since Jan. 20th, 2017.
I want the Democratic Speaker of the House to introduce a bill called The Nullification Act, which calls for the immediate compilation of every single act of Congress, every single regulatory change made by the executive branch, and every single appointment, including lifetime appointments to the federal judiciary, into a single document. And then we’ll begin the process of reviewing, and repealing, and whenever and wherever possible erasing everything the GOP did under Trump.
Meanwhile, I want the new Democratic leader of the Senate to end, on Day One, the filibuster rule. Other than the conditions specified in the Constitution, a simple majority will be enough to pass any bill in the Senate.
And then after that, yes: Propose and vote on Project Democracy’s package of good government reforms. Do more than that: Pass sweeping anti-corruption laws. Do everything possible under to law to shred the system of legalized bribery we call “federal campaign finance law.”
Break up the monopolies. Regulate the fuck out of banks and financial institutions and international corporations and tech giants, because they’ve all clearly proven themselves entirely unworthy of our trust.
And yes, it’s time to propose a Constitutional Amendment overturning the GOP’s 5-4 Citizens United ruling. Because everything those five Republican justices swore wouldn’t be a problem back in 2010 has now become a goddamn crisis, exactly like the four Democratic justices predicted.
And while we’re at it, I want the next Democratic President to nominate Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court during her first week in office. Not because I particularly like Merrick Garland, but because Mitch McConnell stole his seat from the 66 million Americans who voted to reelect Barack Obama in 2012.
And once Garland takes the new 10th seat on the Supreme Court, I want the President to nominate an 11th Justice. Because that’s what happens when you play fuck games: It comes back around on you.
You know what else I want? I want statehood for the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. I want universal voter registration and mandatory paper trail voting. And I want a law that requires fact audits of every news organization that has an FCC license or broadcasts over cable television. The worse your stewardship of factual statements, the more expensive your license becomes. Give the FCC the power to revoke the licenses of unrepentant propagandists.
It’s called de-platforming, motherfuckers.
Why do I want all these things? Because I think the Founding Fathers got one important thing wrong: Power shouldn’t be in the hands of rich white male aristocrats — or as we call them now, oligarchs. Power should be in the hands of citizens. Full stop.
And yes, that’s going to be messy. And yes, we’re going to make mistakes.
But for the love of everything holy, LOOK AROUND YOU.
Now: Am I right? Am I wrong? That’s up for debate. But there’s no debate about these things today, because we’re not in charge. They are. The people who think power should belong to corporations and corrupt institutions.
See? That’s called “standing for something.” Right or wrong, that’s what I believe. And that’s what people want Democrats to do. Stand for something.
So lets stop being bland. Let’s start being bold.