Last night, the White House sent out another of its amazingly odd press releases that more closely resemble a commercial for a new reality television show or a review of a new alt-right book about the merits of white supremacy in America than they do any sort of serious, professional communication about what our federal government is doing to spend our tax dollars. The title of the email was “Bipartisan Praise For The “Impossible To Oppose” Judge Neil Gorsuch”:
President Bannon is usually more subtle in his attempt to pre-set the framing over a particular issue. Like he usually doesn’t enclose it in quotation marks.
What President Bannon is counting on – mistakenly, as it turns out – is Democrats lying down without a fight when his lackey Donald Trump nominates someone to the United States Supreme Court who is a ideological zealot. And, make no mistake, Neil Gorsuch is an ideological zealot who is cut from the same mold at the late Justice Antonin Scalia. In fact, of all the people on Trump’s list for the SCOTUS – a list he got from the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society – only Thomas Lee was more similar to Scalia in his ideological bent.
I say “mistakenly” because, outside of a few squishy Democrats, there appears to be a movement building, particularly in the U.S. Senate, to be sand in the gears of the Bannon administration for the next four years (or less if Trump is impeached.)
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer made it clear last night that Democrats are going to fight the SCOTUS nomination with everything they have. “We are not going to settle on a Supreme Court nominee,” he said during an interview on MSNBC. “If they don’t appoint someone who’s really good, we’re gonna oppose him tooth and nail.”
And they should. Democrats should obstruct the Bannon administration at every juncture. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, should come easily for Republicans until Donald Trump is out of office and a sane person is back at the helm of the United States of America. It’s clear that these elected officials will pay no political price for their obstruction. After all, Republicans stopped President Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland from even getting a hearing for the better part of a year, an unprecedented move in American history, and they still managed to hold onto their power in November 2016.
Yesterday, Democrats showed that they are willing to go down this route by boycotting committee meetings where votes on three of Bannon’s nominees were on the docket:
First, Democrats boycotted a Senate committee scheduled to take two votes, one on Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), Trump’s nominee for secretary of health and human services, and the other on Steve Mnuchin, his choice to lead the treasury. Then, they blocked a vote on Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Trump’s nominee for attorney general.
This intentional obstruction forced Republicans to break the Senate this morning, voting to suspend their normal rules and procedures in order to ram through their picks:
Senate Finance Republicans, via UC, suspend Committee rules and will vote on Mnuchin/Price without Democrats
— Phil Mattingly (@Phil_Mattingly) February 1, 2017
There are some Democrats who are showing signs of weakness, fearful of using the filibuster lest Republicans take it away. Markos Moulitsas excoriated them at Daily Kos yesterday:
So what possible fucking reason might make Democrats decide to sit out this critical fight? Well, in short, there’s a batch of them who are fucking idiots. I mean, they’re the dumbest fuckers you can possibly imagine. How goddam stupid are they? Their logic is as follows: if Democrats use the filibuster, Republicans might eliminate it. And if they eliminate it, they won’t be able to use the filibuster!
The obvious response, of course, is why have a filibuster at all if you’re too fucking afraid to use it?
Or put another way, why be a senator if you’re too afraid to do your job?
The only choice is all out obstruction. Anything less will have those Democrats drawn and quartered by the base.
Democrats with an actual spine are getting cover from progressive groups across the country. Those without a spine? They will face primaries. Period.
This is the sort of nominee that no Democrat who wants to survive a primary challenge could vote for.https://t.co/FdLCzw0wnb
— Ian Millhiser (@imillhiser) February 1, 2017
This is not a time for squishiness or tepid half-gestures by Democrats. If we learned anything from the million-strong Women’s March in Washington, DC, the millions of other attendees of protests across the country, and demonstrations at airports like the one Detroit have taught us anything in the past two weeks it’s that people are fed up and they are taking action into their own hands. There is too much anger and outrage in this country for weak-kneed Democrats to survive primary challenges and they better get that message FAST.
So, President Bannon, let us be very clear: There is NOTHING “impossible” about opposition to Neil Gorsuch or any of your other fascist acts, for that matter. You should count on opposition in everything you do. Nothing easy. Always a headwind. Relentless opposition. And, if necessary, disruptive acts of civil disobedience. When you have normally non-political people around the country stepping up to form opposition groups and taking action against fascism in America, you have unleashed a force you never saw coming. This isn’t a bunch of anti-government tea partiers, grumpy about a Black man becoming president. This is middle America unwilling to hand over our government to a fascist regime out to enrich themselves and isolate our country from the rest of the world.
And we won’t rest until you have been cast out.
UPDATE: Think resistance and obstruction doesn’t work? Think again:
The Harley-Davidson factory in Milwaukee has canceled a scheduled visit from President Trump — for fear of planning protests, according to a report.
Trump planned to visit the motorcycle factory on Thursday, and to sign unspecified executive orders there related to American manufacturing. His team made no public announcement about the visit, but White House staffers were already in Milwaukee setting it up.
But an administration official told CNN Tuesday the visit was canceled because the company felt “uncomfortable” about planned protests over Trump’s executive order on travel bans.
Disruption. Obstruction. Protests. Dissent. Resistance. These are no longer concepts. They are TOOLS.
[CC image credit: Kurayba Obstruction on Flickr]