Apparently, the hallowed institutions of American democracy are crumbling, and complete dissolution of the Union, followed by a descent into total anarchy, cannot be far behind.
At least, that’s the conclusion one would draw from media coverage of the first few weeks of the Trump administration. According to the nation’s leading newspapers, broadcast news anchors and internet jockeys, the Apocalypse has arrived—heralded by the peaceful transition of power in the world’s freest country.
Before I head to the freshly dug civil defense shelter in my backyard, let’s pause a moment to examine the origins of these threats to our way of life.
Left powerless to deny committee approvals for President Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees, the most liberal Senate Democrats resorted to outright sabotage by boycotting the vote. Never mind that elections give both sides ample opportunity to contest control of those committees, or that Senate rules gave Dems plenty of time for questioning, reviewing and debating those nominations; in these trying times, that’s apparently not enough. Rather than vote, embittered liberals simply ignored the rules and hid in their offices.
These “take my ball and go home” tactics are becoming a favorite of extreme liberals in D.C.; just search “Trump Inauguration Boycott.”
When Trump nominated 10th District federal judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court, many of the most liberal Democratic senators immediately cried foul. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., said he would filibuster any nominee other than Barack Obama nominee Merrick Garland: “This is the first time a Senate majority has stolen a seat.”
Stealing being illegal, this is a preposterous claim. The American people gave Senate Republicans the right to advise and consent on SCOTUS nominees, and they exercised that right in refusing Garland a hearing. There is no moral equivalency in the Garland and Gorsuch nominations; in both cases, the Senate wields every bit as much constitutional authority as the president. Republicans were within the law in saying “no” to Garland. Were it not so, then extreme liberal Democrats could have filed suit to force hearings for Garland. However, no such suit was ever filed. Just because Democrats flout the rules, that doesn’t mean they don’t know them.
Now, in a further distortion of democracy, liberal Democrats are warning the majority against altering Senate rules requiring 60 votes to defeat an expected filibuster against Gorsuch. Of course, they conveniently ignore the fact that it was Harry Reid who first exercised this “nuclear option” to get Obama nominees confirmed to the lower courts. When it comes to end-running the rules by which our country runs, Democrats have no peers—or shame.
Of course, liberal anti-gun congressmen preceded the upper chamber in disrespect for the norms of behavior by shutting down the House with their 2016 “sit-in” for gun control. Again frustrated by their inability to force their minority views upon the elected majority, they simply ignored the rules, shutting down House operations, happily tweeting and snapping selfies from the House floor (again in violation of accepted House rules).
Unelected liberals are no less apt to flout democratic rules. In an act of outright insubordination, acting Attorney General Sally Yates ordered the entire Justice Department not to defend Trump’s executive order on immigration, saying she “was not convinced” the order was lawful. However, Yates’ job was to enforce the law, not interpret it. Even professor Alan Dershowitz, who opposes Trump’s order, wrote, “She has no authority to order the Justice Department to refuse to enforce it.” Trump promptly fired Yates—an act well within his purview. An Obama appointee, Yates’ publicity stunt cost her a job that she was within days of losing anyway.
Comparisons were drawn to Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk jailed for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses. However, instead of applying the same standards to themselves, liberals elevated Yates to martyr status, referring to her firing as the “Monday Night Massacre.” Liberal San Francisco Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier even nominated Yates for the John F. Kennedy Profile In Courage Award.
Outside of the D.C. swamp, liberals in so-called sanctuary cities have long flouted U.S. law by refusing to cooperate with federal officials fighting criminal illegal immigration. Enabled by the tacit approval of the Obama administration, they have ignored federal immigration law despite justice systems jammed with criminal illegal immigrants and rising drug violence fueled by illegal immigrant gangs. Now that Trump has threatened to cut off federal funds to such cities, liberal California officials are doubling down by moving to confer sanctuary status to the entire state. In other words, extremist elites in California feel they should be entitled to federal money, yet be unrestrained by federal law.
This unacceptable behavior from our public servants is further exemplified by the “Not My President” protests in the aftermath of the elections; the railing against the Electoral College, whose structure has been in place for more than two centuries; the brick-throwing arsonists of the inauguration protests; and the sometimes-violent suppression of free speech on college campuses.
Such flagrant disregard for principles governing civil conduct is just as real a threat to our Republic. The effort by the liberal elite—from a few small, but densely populated urban enclaves—to thwart the express will of the people erodes public trust in our system of government. Confidence in the rule of law should never be undermined, especially by those whom we have given our trust, and our votes. After all, what does it say when people we have elevated to the position of “lawmaker” express so little respect for it?
Clay Turner is the creative director for America’s 1st Freedom magazine, an official journal of the NRA, as well as the daily news website, Americas1stFreedom.org. He shoots just enough to maintain an A rating with the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA).