Home National Politics The Right-Wing Stole the Court — Liberals Shouldn’t Shut Up About It

The Right-Wing Stole the Court — Liberals Shouldn’t Shut Up About It

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The Call to Battle:

A major crime has been committed in the United States, in plain sight, and the criminals are getting away with it.

The Republicans stole a Supreme Court seat and, with it, the Supreme Court majority, probably for a generation.

In other words, the Republicans have stolen one of our three branches of government.

Throughout this sorry episode — the stonewalling of President Obama’s Merrick Garland nomination, the seating of Neil Gorsuch in his stead — the Democrats (and Liberal America generally) have been weak.

Should we now say, “What’s done is done”? Should we just “move on”?

No, because acquiescence ratifies the illegitimate, and compounds the damage to our constitutional order inflicted by the theft itself.

And it is still possible to strike back with a movement to tell that nation: “Gorsuch on the Court is an America Disgrace.”

Every time there is a 5-4 decision, with Gorsuch voting with a right-wing majority, the movement should bring crowds into the streets to protest. “Disgrace!” “Stop Thief!”

Dramatize that thieves profiting from their ill-gotten gains is unacceptable. Remind the American people that it is a travesty to have our Constitution interpreted by a Supreme Court majority that is itself the fruit of a violation of our constitutional order.

This crime must be understood as part of the destruction of our Democracy by the American Plutocracy.

******************

Elaboration:

1) The Republicans stole the seat.

Does this point need to be proved? If so, here is the gist of it:

  • What the Republicans did, when Sen. McConnell declared within hours of the death of Scalia that the Republican-controlled Senate would not consider anyone the President (Obama) proposed, was unprecedented in American history. (Cf, the study of 103 such situations, in none of which did the Senate act in this way.)
  • There is no way that this Republican obstruction was consistent with what the framers of the Constitution had in mind when they gave the Senate the role of “advise and consent” on judicial nominations. The purpose of “advise and consent” was for the Senate to act as a check to assure that presidential appointees were suitable, i.e. that they met the basic qualifications of professional quality, judgment falling within the broad mainstream, and good character appropriate for such high responsibility.
  • Merrick Garland met those criteria with flying colors and, moreover, was entirely within the mainstream of American jurisprudence. In nominating Garland, President Obama pitched one right down the middle of the plate. There was no good basis – according to all relevant American norms – for Garland not to have been confirmed.
  • The use of the “advise and consent” role to refuse to consider any nominee violates the spirit — even if does not violate the letter — of the Constitution. No system of rules can articulate every prohibition. Of necessity, a great many “rules” are simply implied. All such systems must depend on the good faith, and respect for the system, of those within it. McConnell – and every other Republican senator – showed no such good faith or respect, and simply exploited the inevitable unstated rules that the framers assumed would be “understood.”
  • Rightfully, the seat Gorsuch occupies is Merrick Garland’s.
  • The protest against “Gorsuch on the Court” should be waged not only against the illegitimate right-wing majority in the Supreme Court, but also to also publicly shame and discredit Senator McConnell and all those Republican senators who were his accomplices in that theft.

2) The Democrats have lost the Court through their weakness.

  • Democratic weakness in the battle for the Court goes back decades. For years, the Republican Presidents became increasingly ideological in their attempt to move the Court to the right in the service of corporate interests. And during most of that time, the Democrats in the Senate remained committed to an old ethic which restrained the Senate from fighting for their own ideological preferences in the confirmation process. (The case of Robert Bork was an exception.) Back during the Reagan years, I wrote an op/ed about how the Democrats were being outfought in the battle for the Court.
  • The right-wing has worked continually for decades to create a right-wing Court. They’ve created organizations and think-tanks, and – like the farm teams of a major league baseball organization — they’ve groomed up-and-coming right-wing judges. Liberals have failed to match this persistent purposefulness. The result has been that the Court has moved so far to the right that liberals have ended up depending on Republican appointees (like Stevens) to refuse to go along, and then on justices (like O’Connor, and now Kennedy) who are very conservative, but refuse to be reflexively radical, to check occasionally the triumphs of the right. (That Reagan appointees became the “reasonable moderates” shows clearly how far the right has dragged the Court away from what had long been mainstream notions of justice.)
  • All of that is fair play (except for the disingenuous testimony in the confirmation processes – “just calling balls and strikes”): the side that works harder and smarter is entitled to its victories.
  • But when the Republicans denied President Obama’s constitutional right to name the Justice to fill the seat vacated by Scalia’s death, they crossed a big red line out of fair play into a violation of the clear spirit of the Constitution. (See above.) When the Republicans escalated their drive for control of the Court into a kind of war, the Democrats (especially President Obama) should have returned fire with all the weapons at their disposal.
  • But even in the face of this attempted theft, the Democrats allowed themselves to be outfought. In the months following McConnell’s indefensible statement that the Senate would not even consider anyone nominated by the President -– giving one easily refutable “justification” after another — President Obama did no more than mildly register his objections. He could have excoriated the Republicans, castigated them to the rooftops, made their unprecedented and illegitimate tactics the central topic of the national conversation, put the Republican perpetrators of this indefensible theft on the defensive, called the people out into the streets.
  • (Perhaps he could even have taken the Republicans to the Supreme Court: “Your honors, the integrity of our constitutional process requires that you declare that what these Republicans are doing is inconsistent with the intent of the framers of the Constitution when they assigned to the Senate the role of ‘advise and consent.’ To allow this to stand would establish a precedent inflicting lasting damage on our constitutional system.”)

3) But it is not too late to “Press the Battle”

  • True, at this point, there’s no way to get Gorsuch off the Court. But shaming the right for its crime is not only still possible, it would be politically valuable. And moreover, it is a patriotic necessity.
  • At the very least, protesting serves the nation by proclaiming the unacceptability of the right’s conduct. Protesting is therefore preferable to acquiescence, the alternative which allows the highest court in the land to proclaim, by its very composition, that crime pays, and that this is a nation willing to honor dishonor.
  • Protesting can serve as a public accusation, a kind of “I know what you did last summer.” It disallows the pretense that the Court – thus composed, with its balance tipped illegitimately by this theft – can suitably represent the rule of law.
  • Regular public declaration that “Gorsuch on the Court is an American Disgrace” can help hollow out the right’s dishonorable victory by delegitimizing the right-wing majority on the Court. They can hand down decisions that reward their theft, but they ought not be able to do that without the public being reminded that these are ill-gotten gains—and thus not worthy of the public respect traditionally accorded to the Supreme Court.
  • It might, by applying a kind of moral pressure on that unrightful right-wing majority on that Court, induce that majority to soft-pedal its plutocratic agenda.

4) The protest should attack the illegitimate right-wing majority, not Gorsuch per se

  • What should be denounced is not “Gorsuch” himself so much as “Gorsuch on the Court.” The he was given is not rightfully his. It was stolen from Merrick Garland, who indisputably should have been confirmed.
  • Gorsuch himself is relevant only inasmuch as his history reveals him to be an instrument of the plutocratic power in America. The manner of his rise, the way he’s been groomed by the plutocracy, reveals clearly the nature of the interests who have placed him on the Court—the same interests the Republicans were serving when they deprived Liberal America of the rightful fruits of its victory in the 2012 presidential election.
  • The blow to our constitutional order represented by this theft of the Supreme Court is of a piece with how the 5-4 right-wing majority on the Court before Scalia’s death used its power to shift power from the American system of democracy to the rising Money Power: 1) opening the floodgates to money-power (Citizens United and McCutcheon), 2) gutting the Voting Rights Act to facilitate the disenfranchisement mostly of citizens who tend to vote against America’s more plutocratic political party, and 3) consistently ruling in favor of corporate interests at the expense of protecting the average citizens whom the American government is supposed to express and serve.

5) All of which shows that the theft of this Court seat must be understood as part of the ongoing dismantling of American democracy by the Plutocratic Power. 

  • It is easily shown that the power of wealth in our political process, and of the corporate system in particular, has been growing in recent decades, and the power of the people has been correspondingly diminished.
  • This erosion of the basic democratic nature of the American system of government is a national crisis of the most profound sort.
  • The long-term effort of the right to take over the Court should be understood as predominantly an instrument of the ongoing power-grab by an amoral Plutocracy.
  • Cultural issues (like abortion) should be understood as essentially a political tactic to distract Republican voters. Gorsuch on the Court may vote as cultural conservatives would wish on issues like abortion, but such matters are irrelevant to the interests of the Plutocracy to transfer power and wealth from the citizenry to itself. On the questions that bear upon the quality of life of those Republican voters, and the prospects for their children –on which other people’s decisions about their pregnancy, and their sexuality will have no impact — Gorsuch will predictably injure the right-wing voters who have celebrated Gorsuch’s elevation to the Court.
  • The theft of this seat, therefore – abusing the Constitution by misinterpreting “advise and consent” in a grotesque way – is of a piece with the overall goals of the plutocratic force that engineered the theft: a contempt for American democracy is what unites the means (the theft) and the ends (takeover of America by Big Money).
  • Protesting “Gorsuch on the Court” is therefore a means of engaging on one crucial battlefield in the major political battle of our times: the battle to rescue American democracy from the Money Power that has been hijacking it in our times.

6) Conducting mass protests every time the right wins a 5-4 decision is an apt way to put the spotlight precisely on the Plutocracy’s ill-gotten gains from this sorry, disgraceful, democracy-degrading episode.

 

 

 

  • Andy Schmookler

    A comment on this piece on Daily Kos read:

    “The American people didn’t care about this issue when McConnell
    refused to even consider Garland, they didn’t care about the issue when
    Trump nominated Gorsuch, and they don’t care about it now.

    “I understand it’s frustrating, but none of the predictions (including
    on the front page of this site) that GOP Senators were going to “pay at
    the ballot box” for blocking Garland came to pass. Much the opposite,
    in fact. And there’s zero evidence that McConnell’s manoeuvre cost the
    GOP any seats, or even a single vote.

    “Protest what you wish, but I’d submit your efforts are better spent elsewhere.”

    To which I responded:

    The American people don’t just “care” about things so automatically. That’s what leadership is about.

    Think of all those Americans who were (mis)led to “care” about
    Benghazi. If millions can be led to get all worked up over that
    “nothing-burger,” then why should one assume that they cannot be led to
    care about such an enormous thing as the theft of one of our three
    branches of government?

    Too often, Liberal America looked at how President Obama dealt with
    the unprecedentedly oppositional-obstructive opposition and just threw
    up their hands, thinking there’s nothing anyone could do in the face of
    such opponents.

    That kind of thinking got us to where we are now, with Trump as President and Gorsuch on the Court.

    I am proposing a different kind of thinking. And I am not just proposing it now, with the benefit of hindsight. Let me provide here a link to an open letter I wrote that was published in the Baltimore Sun in December, 2009 — before the end of Obama’s first year in office — trying to call him to the battle he had been elected to fight: http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2009-12-29/news/bal-op.obamapower29dec29_1_memos-moral-crimes

    Tell me: how does that advice look now, eight years later?

    This piece is written in the same spirit of “Press the Battle.” http://pressthebattle.org/

    • dave schutz

      “..GOP Senators were going to “pay at the ballot box” for blocking Garland came to pass. Much the opposite, in fact. And there’s zero evidence that McConnell’s manoeuvre cost the GOP any seats, or even a single vote…”
      Yes! To the extent there IS evidence, it is that the GOP’s actions helped them win Trump the Presidency. Of the ten or so per cent of voters who said the Court was extremely important in their vote, a substantial majority voted for Trump. Enough by themselves to have swung the election? Who knows. But it seems that this very extraordinary strategy helped the Reeps, and this makes me wonder whether making a lot of noise about it going forward may not help them again.

      • Andy Schmookler

        Is it your belief, Dave Schutz, that there was nothing that the Democrats/Obama could have done, beginning with the day McConnell announced they’d consider no nominee from President Obama, that would have led to a different outcome– EITHER in terms of whether the Republicans ended up stealing the seat OR in terms of their paying a political price for the theft?

        • dave schutz

          It seems as though there must have been SOMETHING but I sure as hell don’t know what. Dems did everything I can think of, didn’t work, don’t know what would have.

  • Anonymous Is A Woman

    I agree the seat was stolen and it was an egregious act. Unfortunately, I agree with the DK commenter that our time would be better spent elsewhere than just constantly demonstrating. There is certainly a time and place for protest rallies and marches. The Women’s March was wonderful. So were the other demonstrations. But there comes a point where our time is better spent picking up a clipboard and canvassing a neighborhood to get out the vote, or working a phone bank.

    I know the reply is we can do both. And that may be true for some people. But we have to be careful not to let our energy and time get diverted to demonstrations at the expense of the less glamorous but more important GOTV work. That was the problem with the Occupy movement. They had so much promise and really changed the conversation about income inequality and economic justice issues. But they never took that all important crucial next step. Let’s not make that mistake again.

    • Agreed. Time to help win Virginia in November, for starters.

    • Andy Schmookler

      “better spent elsewhere than just constantly demonstrating”

      :Constantly demonstrating. I call for demonstrations “Every time there is a 5-4 decision, with Gorsuch voting with a right-wing majority…”

      If you think of it, that cannot happen until next year, and mostly not until late spring of 2018.

      Which does not interfere with the idea of focusing on Virginia’s important elections coming up this November.

      Defeating today’s disgraceful right-wing and its political arm, the Republican Party, involves a many-front war. We will not be well served by thinking narrowly about the overall battle. The most effective strategy will have as many dimensions as has the right-wing’s assault on our democracy.

      What’s called for now is the dissemination of the idea, the formation of the will, and the gradual laying of the groundwork for future demonstrations.

      Or, if not demonstrations, SOME effective way of bringing this theft — and its utter unacceptability — deep into the awareness of the American public.

      That is not the case now. And the cost of that lack of attention and lack of continuing outrage is considerable.

  • Edward N Virginia

    You do know don’t you that the historic Democratic Party was A MAJORITY PARTY of hard working people, mostly working in jobs that involved mud and grass stains, grit and grease, blood and guts, sweat and tears …. who came to VOTE and TO WIN DEMOCRATIC VICTORIES. The PATERNALISTIC ELITISM of this piece is appealing to a MINORITY PARTY with jobs in academia, intelligentsia, media and apps, and the like … who have time in their ‘work day’ because they are largely in charge of their work day, and who have excess energy and funds, to do what the writers commands – full of self-righteous elitist paternalism. It is by now WELL DOCUMENTED that Trump’s electoral college win has VERY MUCH to do with resentment of such priggish, elitist shaming and blaming that is utterly ignorant of the real lives and real needs and real commitments of time and energy of Americans who go to work on a schedule, with supervision,restrictions and inspection (even how much time and when they can go to the toilet) and who often get home exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally, sometime with clothes stained with blood and guts, grease and grit, dirt, grass, mud, sweat and tears, who ONCE UPON A TIME were a Democratic majority.

    • Andy Schmookler

      You refer here a few times to “elitism,” and “PATERNALISTIC ELITISM,” which you ascribe to this piece.

      Could you please indicate what it is that you think elitism has to do with the argument of this piece?

      Are you unaware of how the decisions of the Supreme Court impact the lives, and real needs, of the Americans you describe (“who go to work on a schedule, with supervision,restrictions and
      inspection (even how much time and when they can go to the toilet) and
      who often get home exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally,
      sometime with clothes stained with blood and guts, grease and grit,
      dirt, grass, mud, sweat and tears”)?

      It is those people, and their children, who will likely pay the largest price for the illegitimate creation of a five-person (five-man) corporatist Court.

      One can certainly make a case for the Democrats having done a poor job of communicating with these “hard-working people.” One can even make a case that the Democratic Party has represented the interests less well than the Democratic Party used to.

      But no honest case can be made that the Republicans have served their “real needs” better than the Democrats.

      • Edward N Virginia

        YOU just did it again. You did not include a single example of what you are arguing about. Elites do that ALL the time: AN Whitehead called his the fallacy of ‘misplaced concreteness’ or ‘reification’. YOU state a high-level, abstract, or intellectual argument as if that is a concrete example.

        • Andy Schmookler

          Yes, I supposed you’re right, Edward N Virginia: it is certainly “elitist” to assume that my readers know something about the decisions the corporatist majority on the Court have handed down in recent years. I apologize for making such an assumption.

          And surely, rather than just make such an assumption, I should provide a list of such decisions — we could start with CItizens United and McKutcheon, which put even more of our government up for auction to the highest bidder than it had been before.

          But perhaps that would be too elitist also, unless I were to write a brief essay outlining the essential components of each decision and explaining the ways in which each takes power and/or money away from average citizens and gives them to the corporate system and to those people who already have the most power and wealth.

          But by then, I’ve got a small book going. Which is inappropriate for the forum.

          So instead, for those who cannot provide the illustrations of the general idea of the “conservative” majority being a “corporatist” majority from their own mental files, I’ll provide a couple of links to articles that go into some of the concrete examples and the general pattern. Such as:

          http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/05/business/pro-business-decisions-are-defining-this-supreme-court.html

          http://www.pfaw.org/report/rise-of-the-corporate-court-how-the-supreme-court-is-putting-businesses-first/

          • Edward N Virginia

            YOU DID IT again. You have merely replaced one ‘misplaced concreteness’ with another; explained one abstraction with another abstraction. A CONCRETE response is in this form:
            The Supreme Court decision – name/citation/shorthand – handed down by the Republican-nominated majority is BAD FOR YOU BECAUSE [ put in CONCRETE examples here)

            e.g.
            1. take money out of your pocket, by reducing your paycheck by raising the taxes you pay, by requiring you to pay for abcxyz that you would not otherwise be required to pay, etc
            2. keeps you from doing something that you like to do or would like the opportunity to do, by prohibiting the thing you like to do, by decreasing access to the thing you like to do, etc.
            3. makes you inferior to others rather than respecting you equally with other Americans, by created quotas for others, by giving ‘special rights’ to other, etc

            See how CONCRETE this is and how VERY WELL the Republicans use this format:
            e.g. Democrats’ Affordable Care Act TAKES MONEY OUT OF YOUR POCKET by requiring the penalty tax
            e.g.Democratic-appointed justices WILL TAKE AWAY your opportunity and access to protecting yourself and your family with firearms
            e.g. Republican-appointed justice will MAKE SURE THAT LAWS TREAT you equally to other Americans rather than making or reinforcing systems of preferences, etc

            CONCRETE here means
            DIRECTLY RELATED to money in your pocket (a surrogate for ‘the family’ rather than making ‘the government’ or ‘others’ more important than your family)
            DIRECTLY RELATED to safety and security (a surrogate for ‘your own pursuit of happiness’ rather than burdening your choices with regulations that don’t directly improve your well being)
            DIRECTLY RELATED to observed treatment with equal respect, equal dignity, and equal opportunity (a surrogate for ‘the American way’, ‘the American dream’, etc).

            Plenty of evidence shows that Trump voters switched from regularly or formerly voting Democratic because they heard, felt, and observed no commitment from Democrat for their values.

            OH, and btw, telling voters ‘to go find a link to explain your ideas’ is a shameful and unproductive practice for a candidate. If the candidate can’t say ‘my ideas a.b.c are better for you then my opponents’ ideas in these concrete ways x.y.z’ … why bother with her/him/them. They are playing smoke and mirrors with their ideas. FURTHERMORE as you SHOULD know many rural votes do NOT have reliable access to the Internet! NOT even in affluent, educated, abundant Albemarle County! Or didn’t you know that?

          • Quizzical

            I have to disagree in part and agree in part. Linking to stuff is really the essence of the internet. The daily news roundups that Lowell publishes on Blue Virginia are nothing but links. There’s nothing wrong with Andy providing some links, especially considering that anyone who reads what he wrote above is necessarily connected to the internet.

            While the study of A.N. Whiteside was never inflicted upon me in college, thank God, I don’t think that his writings have anything to do with persuasive rhetoric. Any mention of A.N. Whiteside in the context of reading comprehension would seem to be the result of a wry sense of humor perhaps.

            On the other hand, I do agree that generally, the practical, every day effects of Supreme Court rulings like Citizens United have not been well explained to the people. Perhaps it is hard to do because to do it concretely, in terms everybody would immediately grasp, would end up sounding like class warfare. Certainly, if the rich folks can spend as much as they want on politics, they are going to be able to get their way on most everything, such as ramrodding a gas pipeline right through your land, or buying up the mineral rights under and around your land and surrounding your family homestead with fracking wells. On the other hand, just because people aren’t rich doesn’t mean they are stupid, so they pretty much know that. Seems they are willing to let the rich folks run things as long as the rich folks create jobs. Trouble is, the rich folks who are making money off hedge funds and intellectual property rights aren’t creating jobs in this country. Building a lot of solar power stations and windmills will create a lot of jobs – let’s do that.

          • Edward N Virginia

            Thank you. Thoughtful and purposeful conversations about effective communications is ABSOLUTELY NEEDED among local, Virginia, and other Democrats if they do in fact INTEND to win a majority seats in the legislature, other state legislatures.

            First,
            Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947) was a British mathematician, logician and philosopher best known for his work in mathematical logic and the philosophy of science. In collaboration with Bertrand Russell, he co-authored the landmark three-volume Principia Mathematica (1910, 1912, 1913). Later he was instrumental in pioneering the approach to metaphysics now known as process philosophy.
            Note his expertise and ground breaking work in logical language.

            Second,
            We ask that candidates and campaigns know the facts: MANY rural and poor and working class people IN FACT do not have reliable access to the Internet! See this piece in HuffPo that includes an instructive map ( search for article with titel … entry/high-speed-internet-center-for-public-integrity )

            Third,
            DUDE! IT IS THE JOB of the candidate and his/her/their/zir campaign to KNOW THE PEOPLE THEY NEED TO VOTE AND COMMUNICATE CONCRETELY WITH THEM! An abiding reason for Democrats’ failures have been that they pretend to be working hard while actually being VERY LAZY in talking to the diversity of voters that they need so that they can communicate in EFFECTIVE CONCRETE TERMS. I gave you a well developed schema for beginning to understand a process for devolving high level, abstract arguments into local concrete ‘tangible’ arguments.

            Fourth,
            YOU DID what we just said NEVER TO DO: You BLAMED THE VOTERS!

          • Quizzical

            I don’t assume that most people who voted for Trump were completely hoodwinked. From what I’ve read, many Trump voters could see his flaws, but they voted for him anyway, taking a calculated risk that matching Trump up with a Republic majority in Congress would produce jobs in their States and communities. In other words, they did not vote against their own interests, they voted in favor of their own interests as they saw them. I wouldn’t call that blaming the victim, or even disrespecting them.

            As for A.N. Whitehead, he may have won a lot of prizes, but that doesn’t mean that he was a master at political persuasion. From what I’ve read, his lectures were so incomprehensible that they were hardly attended by anyone. As for his books, one reviewer hoped wistfully that future generations may understand him. Unfortunately, we are the future generations of which they spoke, and our leaders are conducting national politics and international diplomacy through Twitter.

          • Edward N Virginia

            Thanks. About Whitehead: he was truly breaking through with his ‘process philosophy’ as among the early thinkers to incorporate what was known at that time from advanced physics. We don’t need to get into that. I deployed his logical concept – ‘fallacy of misplaced concreteness’ – which is a powerful tool of deconstruction, and this case a deconstruction of INEFFECTIVE political arguments.

            I also sometimes deploy a philosophical concept from Confucius – ‘rectification of names’. Confucius, and his great adapter, Mencius, deployed ‘rectification of names’ specifically regarding ordering of societies for social harmony (after centuries of Chinese kingdoms rise and fall and chaos, wars, civil conflicts, etc). Correctly ‘naming’ roles and responsibilities in political order’ is another important aspect of INEFFECTIVE political arguments.

            I’ve discussed enough about how CONCRETE arguments matter to voters. And given EXPLICIT EXAMPLES of how Republicans have been doing that much better than Democrats in a vast majority of state’s elections.

            Moving on to the ‘correct naming of roles and responsibilities’ : IT IS the candidate’s role responsibility to learn how to communicate effectively with the exact voters that the candidate needs to vote for her/him/them/zir.

            Let is hope that each of the excellent candidates this season are excellent enough to 1. fully grasp their role responsibility and 2. communicate in effectively concrete ways, that 3. ensure more than enough voters agree with them to win elections.

          • Andy Schmookler

            I wonder if there’s some confusion here, Edward. You write that “telling voters ‘to go find a link to explain your ideas’ is a shameful and unproductive practice for a candidate.”

            We have been discussing a piece that is posted here on Blue Virginia by me. I am not a candidate, and I am not writing to the readership here as an assembly of “voters,” nor as a random group of citizens. How I write in this situation is different from how I spoke, as a candidate some years back, to, say, a Labor Day crowd in Buchanan, VA.

            I expect, Edward, that the idea that one gears one’s communications to fit the audience is familiar to you. My own experience with audience ranges from doing many years of talk radio conversations with an audience consisting mostly of people without a college education to writing books, published by university presses, for a sophisticated audience.

            I’ve endeavored to learn how to do both tasks, appropriately, and to establish a good relationship with my interlocutors and my readers. Whether I always judge correctly or not, making those judgments is something I’ve put a lot of thought and effort into.

            In the present case, you think I have misjudged. But it is not clear — as per that “candidate” and “voters” comment of yours — whether you’ve made your own judgments about the present communication on a sound basis.

            Here’s what I believe about the audience here on BV for whom I wrote the piece above– concerning in particular the issue on which you have been castigating me: namely, on my having written about the corporatist majority on the Court prior to Scalia’s death, that they have “consistently rul[ed] in favor of corporate interests at the expense of
            protecting the average citizens whom the American government is supposed
            to express and serve.”

            My belief about the readership here is that 1) a reasonably large proportion of these readers, if handed a blue book and asked to substantiate that claim, would be able to provide concrete examples; and 2) the great majority of the rest would have sufficient knowledge in the back of their minds that, even if they couldn’t provide the examples, would feel that they knew that the statement was true.

            In other words, I doubt that many of the readers here NEEDED what you’ve been insisting that I must provide in order to give their assent to the point I made, and to place it solidly into the overall framework of the argument of the piece.

            Is it your belief that I over-estimate the audience in that respect? Is it the case, Edward, that YOU yourself needed concrete examples in order to be able to judge whether that one point, in a large argument, was valid or not?

            With communication, there is always another dimension, aside from the successful transmission of ideas. And that is the establishment of a good relationship with the people one is trying to persuade. Which leads me to wonder what you were hoping for in your communication here with me.

            Perhaps you didn’t care about how you came across to me. Perhaps the audience you cared about was the other people who would read your comments, so that it was OK with you if you antagonized me so long as the readers would assent to your put-downs addressed to me.

            But if you did care about how your instructing me about how I should do things differently would be received by me, you should know that your tone of condemnation and condescension and castigation did not help create receptivity to your ideas.

            How other people here regard them I don’t know. But the tone and manner you adopted does not seem congruent with what appears to be your explicit commitment to constructive and empathetic communication..

          • Edward N Virginia

            Thank you. Since you are spending a lot of time proving that you are right while I was spending a lot of time trying to engage a conversation about effective WINNING communications we’ll just wait to see if your self-absorbed theories produce victories across many now-Republican districts. Thank you.

  • Quizzical

    I thought that President Obama unnecessarily dithered after Scalia’s death before nominating Garland. Took him a little more than a month. They should have had a nominee on the shelf, ready to go, nominate the successor in a day or two. The initial delay I think set a tone that delay was ok. Other than that, I don’t think President Obama did anything weak or wrong.

    As for the Democratic Party, what could it have done? Losing the Presidential election decided the issue. It all merges into the issue we have all been thinking about since then – what went wrong and why? Maybe there is something to be learned by looking at it through the prism of Supreme Court nominations. To me, however, when you say the right wing has made a concerted effort to organize a battle for the Court across generations, it all comes down to money and fund-raising.