June 27, 2018 | Reading Time: 3 minutes
Dems, You’re Not Hearing What Maxine Waters Is Saying
Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi don't get it, but they better get it soon.
Here are two facts that cannot co-exist.
One is that the US Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that President Donald Trump’s ban on Muslims entering the United States from seven countries is constitutional. The president, they said, has vast authority over immigration and the country’s borders.
Though the president was explicit about wanting to prohibit those who practice Islam from coming to the US, the five conservative justices said Donald Trump’s well-documented intent was irrelevant. The ban was “facially neutral,” they said.
It was not.
This ruling came only weeks after the same five justices said a conservative Colorado Christian could not be forced to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple on account of that being an infringement of the baker’s religious freedom.
In short, the high court is saying that the Constitution protects freedom of religion in all cases, without exception, absolutely and positively—unless it doesn’t. This is classic conservative jurisprudence. The law protects the in-group while punishing the out-group. It is in no way an overstatement to say Tuesday’s ruling is an abomination.
Don’t take my word for it. Harvard’s Noah Feldman called it a “decision that will live in infamy,” adding that it might be the worst ruling since the court upheld President Roosevelt’s internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
That’s one fact. Here’s the other.
The leadership of the Democratic Party wants everyone to calm down, be nice and polite. Extremism has no place. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said:
“I strongly disagree with those who advocate harassing folks if they don’t agree with you. … If you disagree with a politician, organize your fellow citizens to action and vote them out of office. But no one should call for the harassment of political opponents. That’s not right.
“That’s not American.”
Wrong. It is totally American to confront, cajole, harangue and even harass people you disagree with. I mean, hasn’t Schumer ever been to a Yankees-Red Sox game?
That’s not his point, though. His point is to blunt criticism from the Republican right and its media enablers. His aim is to disarm those who would accuse popular Democrats of “inciting violence,” specifically US Rep. Maxine Waters, who is reported to have said recently that if you see Trump officials in public, you should “push back.”
She didn’t say any such thing. See for yourself.What she did say is that virtually everything about this administration is an affront to decency, democracy, freedom and God’s children. She said this administration does not understand the will of the American people to right an enormous wrong being done to this country and the world. Republicans control the Congress, the Supreme Court, and the White House, but they don’t control everything. If you see them, she said, tell them they’re unwelcome. Tell them they have no place among decent people. You have the power to push back against cowardice, corruption, and tyranny.
That’s what she said. That is what she said—if you were listening.
Instead of listening to Waters, or God forbid calling her, Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi merely swallowed whole what was being dishonestly said about her, and decided, wrongly, that they better scold Democrats for being uncivil.
The leadership does not get it. They better get it.
The abomination of a ruling that protects Christians while punishing Muslims cannot co-exist with a weak-kneed Democratic Party eager to flee the first accusation of liberals being impolite. An administration that is allegedly threatening to put immigrant children up for adoption if their mothers insist on seeking political asylum cannot co-exist with a Democratic Party headed for the fainting couch.
These things cannot co-exist, and since the Supreme Court’s ruling isn’t going change, and since the president isn’t going to change, the Democratic leadership must abandon the old ways—asking everyone to be civil—and embrace the fire next time.
This does not require the leadership to act tough. Schumer and Pelosi don’t need to out-Trump Trump. All they need to do is this. First, stay the course of courting voters in districts alarmed by Trump’s greed, sloth and incompetence. Second, stop dousing the base’s righteous fury. Third, start defending people who are excising their right to protest, even if they are refusing service to officials dining in posh restaurants.
Their defense doesn’t have to be robust. It can be oblique and indirect. The point is to send the right signals to the right people while doing what needs to be done to win. If protesters break the law, that’s different. But so far, no one has done anything to break the law no matter how strenuously right-wing operatives claim to the contrary.
The base is on the move. Leaders need to follow it.
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John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition open and available to all. Find him @johnastoehr.