The uselessness of the Democratic Party as a bulwark against the GOP's worst excesses has been on full display this week.
In North Carolina, after a panel of three judges ruled unanimously that the Republican gerrymander of the state's legislative districts was partisan and illegal, Democrats have agreed to redraw the voting map in a way that—wait for it—maintains Republican control of the legislature. To have disrupted the map further would likely threaten incumbent Democrats.
As occasional VICE contributor Paul Blest wrote for Splinter News: "Looking at the way this went down, it’s difficult to arrive at any conclusion other than the Senate Democrats were more worried about keeping their own seats than actually having power at any point in the foreseeable future. And not only that, but they’re willing coalition partners to the Republicans in continuing to disenfranchise voters in the state."
Meanwhile, Politico reported that Democratic leadership in Washington is tamping down on calls to impeach not only Supreme Court justice and accused sexual predator Brett Kavanaugh but also President of the United States and accused sexual predator Donald Trump. "Get real," Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin said on Monday. "We’ve got to get beyond this 'impeachment is the answer to every problem.' It’s not realistic... If that’s how we are identified in Congress, as the impeachment Congress, we run the risk that people will feel we’re ignoring the issues that mean a lot to them as families."
Every serious political person knows that "families" do not care about credible accusations of sexual assault. Get real!
This is all happening against the backdrop of a Senate that continues to confirm Trump-nominated judges with bipartisan support, especially from Senator Amy Klobuchar, who is running to be the Democratic presidential nominee. As of last week, the administration has installed 150 federal judges, about which the president took the time to crow during a campaign rally on Monday.
"In a few short weeks, we'll be up to 180. Sounds impossible," he gloated to supporters in New Mexico. "President Obama did us a great favor when I came in. I said, 'I assume I have no judges?' 'No sir, you have 138.' 138? Didn't put them up, couldn't get them approved—I don't know what happened, but we started out with 138. Now we are up to 180." (What happened was a Republican-controlled Senate blocked Barack Obama's judicial picks at an unprecedented rate.)
It's not just judges either: in 2017, the Senate confirmed Marshall Billingslea as the assistant Treasury secretary for terrorist financing tracking. Twelve Democrats voted in his favor. Now Billingslea, a staunch advocate for torture in the Bush administration, has been nominated to become the undersecretary of State for civilian security, democracy and human rights. How many Democrats will vote for the torture guy to be put in charge of human rights policy? We'll find out soon enough.
It's worth noting that some Democratic presidential candidates have been much more aggressive in their rhetoric than their Senate colleagues, with a number of them calling for Kavanaugh's impeachment. Candidates like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have also embraced some version of the Green New Deal, the progressive climate change policy that has been dismissed by congressional Democratic leaders.
So the next president may come into office having promised to actually push for policies most of the Democrats' left-wing base actual wants to see. It remains to be seen whether he or she will be able to get the Democrats squatting in Congress to go along.
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Brendan O'Connor is a freelance journalist working on a book about immigration and the far right for Haymarket.