Within the span of a week, two high-profile Democrats verbalized their party’s perspective on politics. “When they go low, we kick them,” former attorney general Eric Holder frothed to a group of loyalists. “That is what this new Democratic Party is about,” Barack Obama’s former cabinet official proclaimed to shouts of “fight, fight, fight.” (Holder later backtracked.)
Then a few days later Hillary Clinton told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, “You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about.” Holder and Clinton have finally voiced the reality: There’s politics. There’s dirty politics. And then there’s the trifecta of progressive politics—lying, cheating, and stealing to win.
Of course, everyone plays politics. Republicans used their Senate majority status in 2016 to reject President Obama’s election-year Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell flexed the muscle of the majority to control the Judiciary Committee’s hearings and refused to schedule the necessary hearing and vote for Garland.
A few years earlier, Republicans instead found the filibuster their friend, when Democrats and Sen. Harry Reid controlled the Senate. But then Reid removed that political weapon from Republicans’ arsenal when he nuked the filibuster for lower-court nominees. Looking ahead, the retiring Reid suggested that if Democrats took back the Senate following the 2016 election, a further rule change would remove the filibuster option for Supreme Court nominees.
Reid was half-right. When Republicans won two years ago and Democrats used the filibuster to resist confirming Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, Republicans responded as Reid suggested. Then with a simple majority, Republicans confirmed both Gorsuch and later Brett Kavanaugh.
With the filibuster gone, Democrats play politics with a different detail: Senate rules that, absent consent, require a formal “cloture” vote for any presidential appointee subject to confirmation, followed by a day without action, then 30 hours of post-cloture debate. This tactic, so perfected by Democrats that The New York Times branded their efforts the “art of the delay,” translates into “an average of three and a half days spent considering each nominee.” To put that into perspective, it would take a full “11 years and four months to fill all possible Trump administration spots.”
But that’s politics. Politics might not be pretty, but it’s fair and it’s the American way. Republicans have the power to alter the rules or use them against the Democrats should the left ever regain power. That’s one thing.
Then there’s dirty politics: the sensationalistic election-year advertisements that portray opponents as tossing a wheelchair-bound grandma off a cliff; or icing a debate opponent with a surprise news conference featuring Bill Clinton sexual assault accusers Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey, and Juanita Broaddrick.
Hyperbole and half-truths permeate political advertisements and debate soundbites, but the public usually recognizes these tricks for what they are: partisan puffery equivalent to the “best car ever” sales pitch pushed at the local car lot. While distasteful, dirty politics still don’t threaten to destroy our civil order. But progressive politics are an entirely different creature, and one that Americans of goodwill must slay if our constitutional republic is to survive.
Progressive politics exploit government power and employ illegal means to achieve political ends. While Clinton’s “we’ll be civil when we’re in power again” soundbite and Holder’s “when they go low, we kick them” announcement may merely fall on the dirty politics side of the line, Democrats have long ago moved from preaching incivility to acting in blatant disregard for the law and their constitutionally appointed duties.
The left’s plot to crucify Kavanaugh provides but the most recent example. While the Kavanaugh case exposes several layers of misconduct, most evident is Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s withholding of Christine Blasey Ford’s July 31, 2018, letter claiming Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted Ford some 30 years earlier.
Feinstein maintains she did this to respect Ford’s request for confidentiality. Beyond being unbelievable, given the last-minute leak of the details of Ford’s charge, Feinstein, as an elected member of the Senate, owes a fiduciary duty to disclose such information to the FBI and her Judiciary Committee colleagues, whether or not a constituent prefers confidentiality. If Feinstein believed Ford’s charge, the California liberal blatantly violated her constitutional duty to advise the president on Kavanaugh’s fitness by withholding this information and instead sending Ford into the arms of activist attorneys.
Democrats’ effort to set up and then take down President Donald Trump in Crossfire Hurricane and later in the early days of his administration provides another clear example of progressives’ exploitative and illegal exercise of political power. Although we do not yet know the breadth of “spygate,” we know that under the Obama administration the FBI and Department of Justice used Democrat-funded opposition research, funneled to senior DOJ official Bruce Ohr, to obtain a warrant to spy on a private American citizen. We also know that government employees illegally leaked details of the Russia investigation to the press.
While the attempted character assassination of Kavanaugh and the deep-state “spygate” attacks on President Trump provide the starkest examples of illegal conduct or actions that violate representatives’ constitutionally mandated obligations, there are many more, such as the Internal Revenue Service’s illegal targeting of conservative groups under the leadership of Obama official Lois Lerner.
Add to that then-Senate majority leader Reid’s lie that 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney didn’t pay taxes. Reid made this knowingly false charge from the Senate floor, which garbed him in the cloak of legislative immunity. Following Romney’s defeat, when called on his slander, Reid defended his lie with a smirk and the snide push-back: “Romney didn’t win, did he?”
The 2016 election showcased several other examples of line-crossing progressive politics. From Democratic National Committee interim chairwoman Donna Brazile leaking CNN debate questions to Hillary Clinton to the Democratic National Committee cheating Sen. Bernie Sanders during the primary, the liberals have long ago left the realm of passable beltway politics. Then there is Hillary Clinton’s likely illegal laundering of more than $88 million in campaign contributions.
With liberal leaders like these serving as role models for their constituents, is it any wonder progressive activists such Jackson Cosko, a fellow in Democrat Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee’s congressional office, would do things like allegedly illegally access then release Republican senators’ confidential contact information? Or that the mob mentality is overtaking the left?
While this new Democratic Party has been operating for years, the Kavanaugh incident revealed the progressive left’s modus operandi to moderate Americans. The question is whether such potentially Democrat-leaning voters will place party loyalty above principles come November.