December 14, 2020 | Reading Time: 4 minutes
Are Dems taking their own side in a fight?
The evidence is encouraging.
Let me start by saying I do not expect the Editorial Board to influence the ways high-profile Democrats in the US Congress think and behave, but it feels pretty damn good when their thinking and behavior echoes what you’ve read in this humble newsletter.
I left you Friday by saying the Republicans had become an insurgency to overthrow the republic. In joining a lawsuit to the US Supreme Court seeking to invalidate millions of votes, the Republicans (from the US House, the US Senate and 18 states) had made a declaration on par with their oaths of office by which “they no longer agree with the superlative principle constituting the foundation of our republic. They have declared where they stand, and where they stand is against America. Yes, the Republicans are performing partisanship. But that performance has led them to the edge of treason.”
Partisanship saved the United States from a second Trump term. Partisanship, therefore, will save the country from a political party turned insurgency prepared to kill itself to win.
I also said the Democrats in the Congress must name such misconduct. They won’t, though. Instead, I said, they “act as if eventually they can negotiate with these ‘suicide bombers.’ They can’t. Indeed, they mustn’t. Compromise begets more of the same. They don’t want to force the Republicans to choose a side. This isn’t, the Democrats say, about ‘us versus them.’ The problem is the Republicans have already chosen.” Not long after I posted Friday’s edition, Chris Murphy said this on the Senate floor:
The most serious attempt to overthrow our democracy in the history of this country is underway. Those who are pushing to make President Trump president for a second term no matter the outcome of the election are engaged in a treachery against their nation. You cannot at the same time love America and hate democracy. But as we speak, a whole lot of flag-waving Republicans are nakedly trying to invalidate millions of legal votes, because that is the only way that they can make Donald Trump president again. It is the only way … because he didn’t win (my italics).
I don’t think Murphy, my US senator, reads the Editorial Board. He has just an incredible knack for feeling out the rhetorical vanguard. To my knowledge, he’s the highest-ranking Democrat to use “treachery” or something close to “treason.” Let’s hope other Democrats follow his example. Let’s hope they understand the importance of staking out the high, moral and patriotic ground. They, and we, are going to need it.
The Supreme Court threw out the lawsuit Friday, but the GOP continues to threaten the people’s sovereignty. Some are plotting yet another coup d’etat, according to the Times. “As the president continues to refuse to concede, a small group of his most loyal backers in Congress is plotting a final-stage challenge on the floor of the House of Representatives in early January to try to reverse Mr. Biden’s victory.” The plan is to reject the Electoral College votes, a move that would violate federal “safe harbor” laws. Again, the point should not be whether they will succeed. (They won’t.) The point should be some Republicans are going to try. The point is that trying is sedition.
Naming the GOP’s insurgency is more important than punishing it. For now, anyway. Some House Democrats are asking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi not to seat those Republicans who, when they joined the Supreme Court case, declared themselves the enemy of republican democracy. In the process, a dozen of them did, indeed, allege that their own elections were invalid. But nonsense isn’t a reason to deny majority rule. The Republicans are lying. Real voters voted for them. The Democrats know that well enough. There’s no need for Pelosi and the Democrats to play along with the lie.
The Democrats don’t need “procedural maximalism,” as MSNBC’s Chris Hayes said, to respond to Republican disloyalty. What they need is patriotic maximalism—which is to say, they need to turn up the rhetoric. That’s what I saw in Adam Schiff’s remarks Friday night. The House Intelligence Committee chair, and lead prosecutor in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, said refusing to seat Republicans wasn’t the remedy for their betrayal of the non-negotiable values that America stands for. Instead, he said:
The remedy is to make the case to the American people that they are being betrayed. The Republicans said they stood for something. As it turns out, they don’t stand for anything. Helping the country see how close we are coming to losing our democracy and why it’s worth fighting for. I think we all thought democracy was self-effectuating, that we could count on the moral arc of the universe bending toward justice on its own. We have learned we have to fight for it every day (my italics).
To my ears, this seems like something new. In the past, the Democrats tried saying partisanship was the problem, not the solution. Partisanship is something to run from, not embrace. Schiff is turning that around. And he’s right, too. Partisanship saved the United States from a second Trump term. Partisanship, therefore, will save us from a political party turned insurgency prepared to kill itself to win. The moral arc of the universe won’t bend on its own, as I intimate at the Editorial Board. We seem to be witnessing, at long last, a Democratic Party prepared to take its own side in a fight.
John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition. Find him @johnastoehr.