Conservative Legal Movement Moves Steadily Left

By sebastien lebrigand from crépy en valois, FRANCE [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By sebastien lebrigand from crépy en valois, FRANCE [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.

In The Devil’s Advocate, an otherwise forgettable movie, Al Pacino, playing Satan in human form, asks the protagonist: “Who in their right mind . . . could possibly deny the 20th century was entirely mine?”

One might ask the same about Progressives: Who could possibly deny that the 20th century, or at least the second half of it, was entirely theirs? The end of state and local autonomy; pervasive secularization; the meteoric rise of identity politics; and the dissolution of the traditional family, producing an astounding increase in illegitimacy rates.

Theirs, entirely theirs.

Some conservatives, however, after resisting and then losing, catastrophically, on all of these fronts, want to believe they are actually in control. This is essentially how many have responded to Decius’s devastating Flight 93 essay, which masterfully explained why he believes that we are aboard a hijacked plane. Just as terrorist Ziad Jarrah sought to calm the Flight 93 passengers that fateful day in 2001, the pundits are now telling us: “It’s just a little turbulence. The plane has not been hijacked. Everything is fine.”

As a political scientist and legal scholar, I do not believe it is part of my job to endorse a political party or candidate. And I will not breach that duty here. I write this neither as a Democrat nor a Republican, but only as a citizen who accepts the proposition, widely held among both conservative and liberal political scientists, that a vibrant middle class whose concerns constitute the core of national policy is essential to a sustainable constitutional democracy. With this in mind, I  believe it is part of my duty as a citizen to discern a little turbulence from a plane plunging toward an empty field.

I will not rehash Decius’s arguments here but I want to explore an additional reason why I believe modern conservatism is bringing this plane down: the Supreme Court and the legal conservative movement.

For years, the Republican Party has used the Supreme Court to galvanize its voters, threatening that if the Democrats get their pick, the aforementioned parade of horribles will follow. Of course, that parade has streamed by for decades. But here’s the twist: In each of the landmark Supreme Court cases leading that parade, a Republican-appointed justice wrote the controlling opinion.

Republicans like to place all of the blame on one particular turncoat: that stealthy New Englander, David Souter, who co-authored the controlling Casey opinion, upholding Roe v. Wade. Not so fast. Republicans have appointed seven justices to the Supreme Court since the early 1980s (when the legal conservative movement officially began with the creation of the Federalist Society), and of these seven, it is not just one, or two, but three who have been responsible for carrying the torch of judicial progressivism. And that number will likely soon turn to four as Chief Justice Roberts continues his evolution. Moreover, for all their bluster about originalism, Republicans have appointed only two justices who have adopted it as their principal method of interpretation.

Meanwhile, none of the justices appointed by Democrats over the last 50 years have consistently ruled in a way that could be said to favor conservative causes. In fact, over the past half-century  not a single justice appointed by either party has moved to the Right. Almost all have drifted substantially toward the Left, and some have more than drifted—the Republican-appointed Justices John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O’Connor, and David Souter were pulled so far with the tide that they ended up on an entirely different beach.

What is the source of this ideological drift? I could explain this in complicated doctrinal terms, discussing the nature of precedent and trends in legal thought, but that would disguise a very simple fact: It is the culture.

Despite the arcane niceties of constitutional law, much of constitutional interpretation, especially in the high court, comes down to a judge’s political values. And in a society where politics flows downstream from culture, the ideology that controls the culture controls the law. So when the nation’s media, entertainment, and academic industries are controlled entirely by the Left – as has been conspicuously on display in this election—the Supreme Court’s drift toward the Left becomes inevitable and ineluctable.

Fundamental to understanding this drift is understanding the legal conservative movement itself—i.e., the movement of the elite lawyers from which the Republican appointees are selected.

A critical figure in adapting legal conservatism to leftward cultural currents has been Clint Bolick, a key architect of the movement who earlier this year was appointed to the Arizona Supreme Court. In his 1990 book outlining a legal strategy for conservatives, Bolick explained how it was a “losing strategy” for conservatives to appeal to traditional values and working-class voters. Instead, the conservative movement had to “claim the moral high ground,” which, in a culture where equality is celebrated more than liberty or tradition, requires creating a movement in the mold of the NAACP and the civil rights movement. Bolick thus prescribed conservatives to frame their causes in racially egalitarian terms, particularly as benefiting African Americans, as opposed to “chasing firetrucks to see if any members of the Teamsters Union are upset about affirmative action.”

This firetruck strategy has won some legal victories—most notably for gun rights, black entrepreneurship, and school vouchers in inner cities—but these victories have been generally isolated, limited to urban communities, and moreover, they have not won voters for the Republican Party. After the past 30 years of the legal conservative movement’s firetruck strategy of using black co-counsel, searching for black plaintiffs, and framing its arguments in pro-black terms, the Republican Party has become even less popular among African Americans.

More recently, Bolick has switched his focus to Latino voters, arguing in his 2014 book (co-authored with Jeb Bush) that because “America’s population is shrinking and aging . . . [w]e need more immigrants to stem that debilitating demographic tide.”

Moreover, Bolick and Bush concluded, “we cannot sustain a generous social welfare program . . . if we do not increase the numbers of productive, contributing participants in our work force.” This is Bolick-Bush conservatism: Bring in more immigrants to replace the native population and sustain the ever-expanding welfare state.

The result is a party that stokes the resentment and frustrations of its base by ostentatiously complaining about identity politics, while at the same time endorsing candidates specifically on the ground that they would be the first [insert traditionally disadvantaged group]. The Republican Party has become the husband who complains to his wife endlessly about his promiscuous single friend, but then prowls the Craigslist personal ads at night for hook-ups. We might not like the player, but at least he isn’t a cheater.  

How does this relate to the Supreme Court’s leftward drift and cultural trends? Over the last 35 years, the conservative legal movement has molded its political identity and values to fit a changing America, and that movement has controlled which lawyers and judges should be considered for appointment by the Republican Party.  While the conservative legal movement has made almost no advances in its goal of restoring ideological equilibrium to law schools, with law school faculties remaining above 95 percent Democrat, the handful of law professors who do vote Republican are not traditional conservatives but rather a special type of socially progressive, pro-business libertarians – i.e., libertarians who have no constitutional or libertarian objection to things like “humanitarian” war or the federal judiciary’s creation of same-sex marriage, but who do have strenuous objections to federal immigration restrictions and maternity leave policies.   

Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kennedy are the products of these socially progressive, pro-business “conservatives” controlling the conservative legal movement. Indeed, whereas on many issues relating to tradition and localism Roberts and Kennedy have deviated from the Republican Party platform, they have signed on to this Bolick-Bush open-borders, pro-business approach to conservatism, siding with the Chamber of Commerce, for example, to rule that federal immigration policy preempts local authority over immigration reform. In fact, Roberts and Kennedy have voted more than any other justices to find that federal law displaces state authority, and they have done so at an especially high rate in cases involving business interests, in virtual lockstep with the interests of the Chamber of Commerce.

This is the only time when the legal conservative movement has consistently won on the Supreme Court—not in preserving tradition or local autonomy, but in empowering global corporations, broadening executive war power, and facilitating open borders. The Bolick firetruck strategy, by following the culture of the Left but the economics of the Chamber of Commerce, has carved the legal path for a party that apparently cares more about corporate profit, endless war, and cheap labor, than the increasingly dire plight of its great mass of voters.

Missing from all of Bolick’s bollocks about a “shrinking and aging” population and decreasing “participants in our workforce” is any acknowledgment of what has happened to our neglected “firefighters” while the movement has sought to curry favor with various minority constituencies—namely, that white Americans are the only group whose mortality rate is increasing; that rural America is experiencing a massive heroin problem; that people in rural areas are much more likely to be incarcerated than people in urban areas; and that the white illegitimacy rate is rising faster than any other group’s and now exceeds that of the black illegitimacy rate in 1965 (when LBJ famously tasked Daniel Patrick Moynihan with unraveling “the tangle of pathology” in the black family) .

That the Democrats ignore these mostly rural problems is not surprising; these are, by and large, not their voters. When something does affect their voters, however, as when the water was tragically contaminated in Flint, Michigan, Democrats rightly demand accountability. What is shocking, and morally repulsive, is that when free trade and open borders destroy majority-Republican communities, a prominent National Review writer’s answer is “these dysfunctional, downscale communities . . . deserve to die.” (Can you imagine the Huffington Post saying the same about Flint?)

The conservative movement does not seem to appreciate that it is dying alongside these communities; that it loses even when the Republican Party overwhelmingly wins state legislatures and both houses of Congress; and that it continues to lose because the party appeals to a population it does not want to help or associate with once the ballots have been counted.

After the past 25 or so years of increasing acrimony between the movement and its base, the movement has finally admitted that it has more in common with Hillary Clinton’s dream of a “common market with open trade and open borders,” and that it wishes that its own base would simply die. So is it any surprise if Republican voters now openly wish the same for the movement?

Recognizing this rift, the conservative movement’s plan is to create some sort of neo-neo-conservatism that will recruit more voters from the Democrats.

In other words, the movement would rather move even further to the Left, in an effort to pilfer more culturally progressive, business-minded Democrats, than to preserve tradition and localism for its own voters. This plan will fail, just as all other Republican outreach plans have, because there is already a political party performing that function, and it can perform it more authentically and persuasively than the Republicans.

Consider as an omen the fate of the elites’ chosen one, Marco Rubio, and how he adopted the Bolick firetruck strategy, to the pleasure of the pundits but the utter distaste of the electorate. Rubio repeatedly mentioned his Latino ancestry on the stump and in the primary debates, proclaiming, “We are the party of diversity, not the Democrats.”

Can you imagine the reverse? The Democrats screaming: We are the party of globalism and war, not the Republicans. Never. The Democrats don’t want any part of the Republican image. I wonder why.

As it turns out, Bolick had it exactly wrong: Appealing to the Left’s premises, and trying to beat the Democrats at their own game, is a losing strategy with dire consequences, not just for the Republican Party, but more importantly for millions of American families.

This is why Donald Trump is the GOP nominee—notwithstanding his style, vulgarity, and ignorance (which no one should or could defend), Trump has done one thing right: He has abandoned the Bolick firetruck strategy and hit the issues of trade, war, and immigration when no other candidate has. Indeed, before being embarrassingly sidelined with his truly reprehensible personal shortcomings, Trump had focused on the issues that matter most to the vast majority of Republican voters, people who are more concerned with conserving their local communities and traditions than with privatizing social security and lowering capital gains taxes. For this reason, the Trump campaign, gaffes and all, marks the beginning of a new American Right, a movement that will give these voters—the core of the electorate—the possibility of winning again.

Winning requires forming your own premises and narrative. It requires the wisdom to distinguish turbulence from a hijacking, a protest from a riot, and ordinary immigration from a migration crisis. When untrustworthy voices are ordering us to ignore the turbulence, to settle in and put on our seatbelts; when we are told that the people with bandanas and knives apparently preparing for war are simply our co-passengers; when we are assuaged that the impending sense of doom in our stomachs is really the anxiety before “togetherness” bliss—we need someone who will not obey the hijackers’ commands, someone who will stand up and take over the cockpit.

While Trump is clearly not the ideal person to lead the charge, it is equally clear that whether he wins or loses in November, the Republican Party and the conservative movement will not be the same after this election, because the voters have spoken: They will no longer be appeased with huddling in the back of the plane, praying that the hijackers will take a more scenic and circuitous route in our eventual descent toward oblivion.

About Jesse Merriam

Jesse Merriam is an assistant professor at Loyola University. He holds an M.A. and Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University and a J.D. from The George Washington University Law School.

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29 responses to “Conservative Legal Movement Moves Steadily Left”

  1. Mind-boggling in its clear eyed vision…I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

  2. Actually most of the last 50 years belongs to trickle-down/supply-side Satanomics.

    Return the top marginal tax rate to the 90% (top effective rate of around 76%) it was under Eisenhower and then we can talk about living under Progressive policies.

    • Miss Lemi: I think there are quite a few newly oppressed and impoverished Venezuelans that would strongly disagree with such a punitive measure. You seem intelligent, and I expect you’ll figure out eventually that strong borders, combined with a free market within them, is the best route to health and prosperity–for all.

      • That would be Mr. (I just like big tits and the ACLU so decided to use what I think is the perfect combination of the two as my avatar.)

        Oh, so Venezuela is like America was in the late 30’s, the 40’s, the 50’s, the 60’s, and the early 70’s until the economic terrorists who hate us for the freedoms that strong unions & a high effective tax rates gives us used the oil embargo to launch their attacks.

        You forgot one little thing: Venezuelans have not yet had their Battle of Blair Mountain moment were those who do the work that creates the wealth sent a message to the parasite class that the option of violently sending them to Hell is on the table.

  3. I agree with everything Jesse Merriam says here (except for his ritualistic condemnation of Mr. Trump’s behavior based on a few unsubstantiated allegations, mostly from long ago). Holy crap, tell your friends!

  4. The fact that “conservatives” are leading the charge to elect Hillary Clinton and allow her to pack the Supreme Court with left-wing justices tells you all that you need to know about ‘conservatives”.

    It’s suddenly crystal clear why, even though conservatism has long been more popular than liberalism among the public at large, conservatism keeps losing every fight. The “conservative movement” is run by liberals. The “conservative” elite has much more in common in terms of political philosophy with the left than it does with the right.

    “My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders, some time in the future with energy that is as green and sustainable as we can get it, powering growth and opportunity for every person in the Hemisphere,” – Hillary Clinton

    There is no part of that with which the Official Conservative Movement has the slightest disagreement. It’s Trump’s position which the faux “conservatives” have trouble with.

    “We will no longer surrender this country, or its people, to the false song of globalism.

    The nation-state remains the true foundation for happiness and harmony. I am skeptical of international unions that tie us up and bring America down, and will never enter America into any agreement that reduces our ability to control our own affairs.” Donald Trump

    Those who side with Clinton in this election are anything but conservative.

  5. I agree with basically everything written here other than the blind acceptance of the recent October surprise allegations against Trump. I also believe he still could win.
    It is bitter irony that the conservative movement claimed for thirty years to embrace what I’ll call “Flight 93 Issues.” Among the Flight 93 issues were opposition to abortion, support for gun rights, and support for free speech. Immediately after these conservatives lost the cockpit in their vehicle, the Republican Party, they immediately supported a candidate who would appoint pro-abortion and anti-speech and anti-gun rights Supreme Court justices. So everything these people ever said or did was fraudulent and a lie. Whenever they had to vote for someone who threatened their power positions, these self-proclaimed conservatives fell into line behind someone whose USSC appointments will put an end to every issue they have claimed was all between freedom and tyranny.

  6. This is one one of the more insightful, not inciteful, essays in the American Greatness corpus.

    Plowing through the shrubs of the first few paragraphs, Professor Merriam gets the heart of the matter when he assigns blame to the lamentable ideological drift in legal thought — “It is the culture.”

    It is indeed “the culture”.

    American culture has indeed moved “left” over the last 50-60 years. It is considered longer acceptable to discriminate against other citizens on the basis of race, gender and now sexual orientation. This is cause for extreme concern among those who believe that if you, for example, own a restaurant you should be able to serve only the customers you feel like serving. In the 1960s in certain parts of the United States, if a black man walked into your restaurant and asked to see a menu, you had every legal right to deny him service. That’s no longer the case.

    “Culture” has also moved left with respect to the rights of women and gays. Our culture demands a certain respect for our natural resources. A Pandora’s Box of “rights” was opened in the 1960s. Whether the respecting the rights of blacks, women and gays is a good thing is a separate discussion, but it’s undeniably clear that the “culture” led this revolution in rights. The Supreme Court, largely, followed. Roe V Wade was not decided in a vacuum; it was decided in a cultural context where acceptance of abortion as a “right” had emerged as a cultural consensus. Lest the readers of American Greatness suffer any delusions, Americans are not going to back to an age where abortions are banned without any exceptions. What’s really being over now are the barbaric procedure of late term abortions, public funding abortions and the extent of various exceptions to bans on abortions. But abortion per se as a “right” is here to stay and if anyone thinks that a majority of the US Supreme Court will ever vote to ban abortion altogether, I’d suggest readers here stock up on canned food waiting for that day.

    What Professor Merriam, who rightly acknowledges that Trump “is clearly not the ideal person to lead the charge”, is really arguing in this essay is a fundamental redefinition of what conservatism is. There’s nothing wrong with that conversation in the least. Conservatism used to include among its central tenets isolationism. Conservatism evolved to abandon isolation and embrace interventionism. It may well be time to revisit interventionism and transcend it with a new “ism”. We conservatives should welcome a fresh look at our beliefs in light of our experience and lessons learned from our successes and failures.

    Perhaps we should serious consider morphing conservatism into an ideology which rejects the pathologies of western Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America and looks inward for cultural and spiritual renewal and finds within our own walls the wherewithal to build a powerhouse economy that need not rely on trading with Europe, Asia or Mexico, taking in their immigrants and getting involved in their messy wars, be they wars in the Middle East, possibly in Eastern Europe or the drug wars in Latin America.

    To truly make America great again, perhaps we need to bring Americans home, build the wall, stop the invaders from coming here and put an end to trade deals and watch the world destroy itself. That’s one vision for America’s future, and perhaps Trump will be vindicated a hundred years from now that we did not listen the “statesman” Trump when he had the chance on November 8, 2016 before the republic fell on January 20, 2017 when Hillary Clinton was sworn in as president. None of us will be here a hundred years from now but I hope “American Greatness” will be here 10 years from now to give us a checkup on how the republic to tell us “See, I told you so.” But also to be there when someone else can come back in, say, 2017, and tell Decius, “I told you so.”

    The “conservative legal movement” cannot stand apart from “the culture”. It is by definition a part of, a product of and a reflection of the culture. I would have taken a pass on commenting on this essay if it did not include as a central component of its thesis taking undue shots at Clint Bolick, a brilliant conservative jurist in Arizona. The Professor takes the lash to Bolick for suggesting that the notion of civil rights legislation enacted in the 1960s was consistent with the proposition, put forth by the founders, that all men are created equal. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the notion that all men are created equal and that laws against racial and other invidious forms of discrimination should be enforced, that cat is long out of the bag and any attempt to put it back in the bag is delusional in the extreme. Bolick offers conservatives a way through the impasse we’ve been stuck at for decades — which is to reassure blacks and other “minorities” that they are welcome by conservatives and that if they join us that we, together, will rebuild cities which have been devastated by horrific liberal economic policies, we will reform education and we will support small businesses — in short, we will make America great again.

    But you can’t make America great again without enough votes to elect members to Congress and a president to get these things done. Trump and his supporters would have us embrace a white nationalist strategy that it destined to fail before it even begins. Trump was never serious winning this election, but I have no doubt about the sincerity of the academics who contribute to this blog and its dozens of readers.

    • Damn, you’re long winded. Try starting your own blog if you want to write essay length comments all the time.

      You’re also completely leftist in your political views, and you are “conservative” only in the sense that you wish to “conserve” all the liberal policy victories of the past. You win bonus leftist points for describing those opposed to your explicitly racial gerrymandering of the United States as “white supremacists”.

      we will make America great again

      You don’t believe that there is any such thing as “America”. To the extent you have a concept of “America” in mind it is one which easily encompasses all of the continents of North and South America, and anybody who happens to live therein. Bolick is a Bushian Republican, which is to say that he agrees with Hillary Clinton’s vision of an “America” which encompasses the entire Western Hemisphere and within which people would be free to move about as easily between Argentina and Alabama as they currently do between Florida and Alabama.

      • Then let me make this simpler for you to understand, Severn.

        Trumpism is a morally bankrupt, philosophically vacuous and politically suicidal strategy.

        Defeat will come on November 8 to Republicans who had every reason to believe going into 2016 that we would defeat Hillary and hold majorities in both houses of Congress. Hillary will be elected, the Senate will likely fall to the Dems and we will barely hang on to our majority in the House. Thank you, Donald and Decius!

        We shall see if I’m right about that and if I’m wrong I’ll come back here and accept my flogging. But if I am right then at the very least no one here can possibly claim that they were not warned.

        I’ll reply to your slander on Bolick in a separate post.

      • You, and the “Republicans” like you, have worked your asses off on Clinton’s behalf.

        You do not get to do that and then cry “You were warned” if the outcome you have worked furiously for happens to come to pass.

      • Not merely hostile towards American conservatism. Hostile toward America and its citizens.

      • Sorry, but you don’t get to wash your hands and blame everyone else when Trump loses. We warned you (not you personally, as you’re obviously a great guy and have good intentions at heart) that Trump had personal issues that would collapse his campaign in October. Anyone with google at their fingertips could easily find out what kind of man he is with respect to his treatment of women. We just know more now than we did a year ago, but it’s nothing out of character from what we knew a year ago.

        Even if every conservative said to himself “No matter what comes out on Trump I’ll stand by him.” he would have still have lost to Hillary. He’s insulted blacks with his birther shit on Obama, he insulted Latinos by calling them rapists and criminals and he’s insulted women in myriad ways. There just aren’t enough white guys in the electorate to overcome his alienation of women and minorities. That’s the world we live in.

        But that’s just the horse race perspective. This race was over the moment Donald went down the escalator in the “Trump Tower” in Manhattan. How ironic that one of the world’s richest men, a trust fund baby who was bailed out by the banks in the 1990s after having squandered his fortune on casinos and who later made his name on reality tv, professional wrestling and beauty pageants, is now the leader of the alt-right.

        Here, the ostensible high brow blog whose name childishly apes Trump’s campaign slogan and which did not exist before Trump’s candidacy, this pro-Trump blog is interested in Higher Things. Decius would have us believe that the end of the republic is upon us and thus we need a Caesar and that only Trump can be that Caesar and that we must all become good little isolationists, protectionists nativists and white nationalists – oh yeah, all perfectly consistent with the views of the founders and Lincoln.

        This is a morally bankrupt and politically inept political strategy that guarantees irrelevance and, worse, eternal disgrace.

        And hands Hillary on a gold and marble platter the greatest prize of them all that she does not deserve and would never have had if only Republicans had not insanely made Trump our nominee.

      • I worked for Cruz, not Clinton. A massive difference between the two. I would have settled for Rubio or Kasich, though I couldn’t bring myself to settle for another Bush. Enough is enough.

        But now we know what Trumpism is all about: if you supported Cruz you support Clinton. Your logic couldn’t be more impeccable.

        We warned you that Trump was not only a deeply flawed candidate (a spoiled trust fund baby who became a sexual predator early in life) but a phony conservative, after decades of being a liberal Democrat who bankrolled the Clintons.

        Trump is a classic crony capitalist who bribed officials to obtain government permits for Trump, Inc. and lobbied for changes to federal tax laws to benefit his various commercial enterprises. He has proposed engorging the administrative state and ignored entitlement spending. He has praised the dictator of Russia, a regime to which he has deep commercial ties. He has suggested that he would abandon our NATO allies if they don’t do as he commands. He has proposed a religious test for entry into the United States. He has proposed ordering his generals to commit war crimes. He has proposed “loosening up” the libel laws so that he may sue newspapers which write articles that threatens his majesty.

        All of the above may be consistent with your dystopian views of America, but none of it is consistent with the beliefs of the founders or of Lincoln.

        Trump has brought disgrace to the United States and his sycophants like you lap it up and beg for more.

      • I’m from California and white nationalism is no longer an option there. (The place whose path California is following is Hawaii.) But I can hope for the east LA Democrats (not “white”) to wake up and realize that the Hollywood and Silicon Valley Democrats do not have their best interests at heart. I’m hoping the Republicans shut down and the Democrats split in two on their internal fault lines.

      • If you would have settled for Rubio, you might as well have just settled for ¡Jeb! — amnesty and the border being the most decisive issue of our time, you’ll get the same thing either way.

      • If you sincerely believe that Trump was the best the Republican Party could offer up to beat Hillary, then perhaps we truly are completely fukked as a political party. We might as well close the party down and let the Dems have control of everything.

      • We shall see how well Trump does against Hillary. Meanwhile, the GOP had all but closed up shop and rolled over to the Democrat party. But for a brief period after 1994, they’ve tried to amnesty us themselves, they did nothing to stop the ratchet for the past 85 years, abolished no departments, and solved no problems. They all went native. Trump, by refusing to follow any sort of script, is a (not the) logical response to that.

      • Yes, we shall see. It’s entirely possible the polls are wrong and that Trump will go onto victory, in which case all conservatives better get on board and do everything they can to make the Trump Administration a successful one.

        But if Trump loses, would you consider the possibility that Trump apologists were wrong to support what appears now to be a candidacy doomed to a landslide defeat? Trump has now lost Arizona, Utah and Georgia appear to be gone and even Texas is at risk. If it does end up being the landslide the pollsters expect it to be, a bit of reflection by Decius and his disciples here would be in order.

        But I’m actually more interested in your allegation that the Republicans rolled over to the Democrat party. Did you not notice their opposition to Obamacare? Their opposition to the entire Obama agenda? Their refusal to even grant a hearing to his pick to replace Scalia? What planet do you live on?

        The Reps have problems, many problems, but caving in to the Democrats on everything the Dems wanted is not one of them.

      • Each paragraph in turn:

        My attitude until 11/08 is that no polls until then mean anything, especially officially; and despite this; every poll until then is designed to influence that one, in a particular direction. So, as I said — we shall see.

        In 2008 as in 2012, the primary winner was, in essence, chosen in advance by GOP and media elites; votes for others translated as “NO!” but functioned only to split that vote and leave him the last man standing. This year, that same phenomenon functioned in reverse. Meanwhile, he was the only — repeat: only! — candidate not to speak in scripted banalities, or — at the very least — to say in public things no one else had before. He is far, far from perfect. But he is a hand grenade rolled into the floor of the Congress.

        Have they caved to everything? Mathematically, no, perhaps not. Refusing to consider a replacement for Scalia was one such rare moment, though they were not so solid in opposing the two disastrous Marxists that were successfully appointed. Whether or not it would have made a difference is immaterial. We are still stuck with *bamacare, but their fault lies in the idea that they keep talking of repeal “and replace,” instead of simply getting rid of the damn thing and making progress toward extracting the government from the entire medical industry. Beyond that token opposition to whatever BHO wants to do, the best we get from the GOP is typically nothing better than jaw-flapping in banalities and pre-packaged nonsense.

        The GOP had control of both houses and the presidency for several years in this century, and they squandered that opportunity and decided instead to … well, out-Santa Claus the Democrats, basically. New entitlements, new government departments, pushes for amnesty, all of which gained them zero new voters and drove huge numbers of supporters to sit at home on election day. For that matter, they still blame Barry Goldwater for 1964 when they ought to be blaming Lee Harvey Oswald.

        Is this all necessarily fair to the GOP? Maybe not. Between these things and their utter craven cowardice on matters of race and immigration, it’s probably better than they deserve.

      • One by one.

        Yes, we shall see who wins this election.

        As for 2008, McCain never had a chance against Obama. The American people were tired of W and his wars in the Middle East. We were also dealing with a genuine financial meltdown in the two months before the general election. We could have put up Jesus Christ himself and Obama would still have been elected.

        In 2012, there was a chance for the Republican to win and there’s no question that Romney was a flawed candidate. But if we’re going to be honest, the alternatives in the field were unimpressive. Ron Paul, New Gingrich and Rick Santorum…Obama would have carved up any of them. By the way, Trump attacked Romney for being too tough on illegal aliens — Trump savaged Romney for his “self-deportation” solution to illegal immigration. My how times have changed.

        Re Kagan, the Dems had the votes to confirm her nomination to SCOTUS. Most Reps voted to oppose her nomination but even if every single Rep voted no, she still would have been confirmed. You just can’t blame the Reps for Dems voting to confirm her. And no, you can’t shut down the federal government over a SCOTUS confirmation vote.

        I don’t really follow the next paragraph. What I think you’re suggesting is that Republicans should be castigated for not repealing the New Deal and the Great Society. Coming from a Trump supporter, this is a very strange criticism. Trump supports federal entitlement programs and has promised to shield them from efforts to reform them by Republicans. Love or loathe Trump, he’s actually in tune with the American people on entitlements. The American people overwhelmingly support Social Security and Medicare and don’t want them “reformed”. We’ll pay the price for that soon enough, but to flog Republicans for not doing what the American — and Trump — don’t want them to do is batshit crazy.

        “Cowardice on matters of race”? What are the Republican supposed to do — repeal the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act? That’s not going to go down well with the American people, the vast majority of whom oppose discrimination on the basis of race. Even though most Republicans in Congress supported these bills, Goldwater opposed them (not sure about the VRA) and in doing so helped create the the modern conservative movement today. I don’t know of anyone blaming Barry Goldwater for the doomed candidacy of Donald Trump. If I recall correctly, the Republican nominee won in 1968, 1972, 1980, 1984, 1988, 2000 and 2004. That’s a pretty decent post-1964 record for the Republicans and if we lose in 2016 it would be outrageous to blame Goldwater for that. We might as well blame Lincoln for Trump’s defeat.

      • Why is your screen name “Party of Lincoln”? Lincoln at one point advocated deporting blacks to Africa. That’s a textbook definition of a racist comment. Lincoln doesn’t represent my party. We are the party of inclusion not nativist bigotry, Amirite? I disavow.

      • Severn wrote:


        So now we’re at the point where anyone who doesn’t believe in Trump as savior of the republic doesn’t believe in “America”? And that Bolick dreams of a world where it’s just as easy to “move about between Argentina and Alabama as they currently do between Florida and Alabama.”?

        How does this horseshit enter your dome? No one, at least no conservative I’ve ever heard, has proposed eliminating the requirement that one show a passport for entry into the United States. Even Canadians have to show their passport to enter the US and Americans must show their passport to enter Canada. No one in this post-9/11 world is proposing otherwise.

        If you’re going to make a point then make a point that’s grounded in factual reality. The moment you start making shit up your argument falls apart. Yes, if Bolick had ever proposed eliminating all immigration controls so that anyone who lands at LAX or walks across border crossing at San Ysidro is free to walk into the United States you show me that quote and I’ll join you in forcing him to wear a “Hillary for President” dunce cap. But we lose arguments with the voters every single time if we start making shit up and turning against our friends. Maybe Bolick is an apostate on one or two issues you disagree with him on but we can’t win elections if we demand ideological purity. I’m sure there must be one or two issues you disagree with Trump, but from your point of view it’s perfectly appropriate to support him even if you only agree with him 90% of the time.

      • Bolick = Bush on immigration and open borders. They co-wrote a book together describing their vision for an “America” which just happens to look identical to Clinton’s vision.

        “My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open
        borders, some time in the future with energy that is as green and
        sustainable as we can get it, powering growth and opportunity for every
        person in the Hemisphere,”

        That’s the Uniparty dream. It’s the dream of the GOP “elite” just as much as it is the dream of the Democrat “elite”.

        we lose arguments with the voters every single time if we start making shit up and turning against our friends.

        Dear God … I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a person more completely lacking in self-awareness.

    • Roe V Wade was not decided in a vacuum; it was decided in a cultural
      context where acceptance of abortion as a “right” had emerged as a
      cultural consensus.

      Absolute and total rubbish, and even if it were true, it was a horrible decision — both in terms of any sort of jurisprudence (in which it was utterly lacking), and in terms of public sentiment.

  7. “What is the source of this ideological drift? . . . It is the culture.”

    But what explains the culture? It is human psychology and class interests. Anybody admitted to the mandarin class will, in time, come to adopt the ideology that justifies the status and power of that class. And with life tenure, federal judges have a lot of time. Modern Progressivism is the ideology of expertocracy. It is the most natural fit for experts — and for the professors who train them.

  8. Two things this article brought to mind:

    1) So we’re replacing white Americans with Mexicans in order to keep Social Security? Does that really strike anyone as a good idea? Why not just abolish SS and go back to the old private pension set up we had before FDR, which worked better than his program anyway?

    2) Maybe it’s time to jump this sinking ship, join the Democrats, and play/fight their identity politics under their tent. Won’t be long before they’re the only gang in town anyway.