2020 — May 19, 2019 at 12:34 pm

When you wake up one day and realize you’ve been getting your ass kicked for 40 years


We’re finally seeing how voter suppression, mass incarceration, the war on women and the demise of labor all feed off each other. Unfortunately, conservatives figured that almost 50 years ago.

Abortion is being criminalized in state after state, punishing poor people and people of color.

We have no attorney general.

Prosecutions of Trump’s political opponents seem inevitable.

War crimes are being rewarded.

Foreign adversaries have been invited to interfere with our elections, again.

We’re denied even basic knowledge about how effectively we’ve already been hacked.

The census is being rigged to reinforce minority rule for at least another decade.

The Trump Administration is trying to start a war with Iran and the press is proving it learned nothing from Iraq.

And the federal courts are lost, probably for the rest of our lives.

When did we first begin to get our ass kicked after the monumental victories of the 60s, despite a few big wins in 1993-94 and 2009-10?

Was it when Democrats barely defeated the man who pardoned Nixon failing to pass any sort of labor reform under Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton or Barack Obama? Was it the shift to policies that prioritize incarceration over social services? Was a fear of prioritizing the courts or anything that boldly protected or expanded abortion rights, though Roe remains far more popular than any conservative policy? Was it the failure of expanding on the success of the Motor Voter Law? Was the tipping point just two bad elections — 2014 and 2016?

Obviously, it was the not the moment Trump — the personification of all that’s wrong with conservatism but not the cause of any of it — was “elected.”

You’d probably have to read The Rise of the Conservative Legal Movement, Rick Perlstein’s genealogy of the modern conservative movement, Ari Berman’s Give Us the Ballot, Jane Mayer’s Dark Money, Ian Haney López’s Dog Whistle Politics and Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains to begin to answer these questions.

George Lakoff points to the Powell Memo of 1972, which lays out a master plan that has largely become a reality.

People tend on the left tend to think systematically about policy, which is why Democratic policies lead to better job growth, more people insured and a inclusion for those who have historically been denied rights.

“Bad policies like the forced pregnancy bill are a direct result of voter suppression,” Stacey Abrams said.

Voter suppression is the glue that ties together everything the GOP does.

This includes making it difficult or impossible or just unlikely for most Americans to vote. This includes de jure disenfranchisement for the Americans criminalized by the legacy of Jim Crow and slavery and de facto disenfranchisement through a countless useless measures including voting purges and ridiculous barriers to voting. This includes the constant politicization of health care of women and LGBTQ people designed to summon steady state of toxic stress. This includes Fox News spewing hate to feed the machine that fleeces workers 24/7. This results in the constant gutting funding for poor communities with massive tax cuts while raising the burdens on the most vulnerable with the craven gutting of all government protections.

When it comes power, conservatives get it. And the left has gotten served. Nearly “compromise” of the last half century has had costs paid mostly by the people Democrats should be serving.

This is why appeals to trust the elders of the Democratic Party ring increasingly hollow. Nancy Pelosi is the singularly most successful Congressional leader of the century. She must have a plan for Trump. Joe Biden may be be on the verge of proving all his doubters, including me, wrong and running off with the Democratic nomination.

I get the need to return to normalcy, the feeling that somebody has got this. They’ve led us back to power before.  Now, if we’re lucky, we’ll get to restore the rule of law after the rise of authoritarianism.

But what we need is a plan to stop getting our ass kicked.