At times like these, when an issue has pushed American political life to a white heat, some sage often steps forth to restate a truism: All politics is local. Not anymore. Not when Sen.
Democrat from Massachusetts, demands that in response to a “national health emergency,” President Biden set up abortion clinics on federal lands (an idea that Rep.
unfortunately called “the babiest of baby steps”).
For the progressives running the Democratic Party, all politics is national. Whether abortion on demand, gun bans, eliminating fossil fuels, whatever, the view of the Democrats is that the locals (rhymes with yokels) are just along for the ride. Get over it. And if progressives don’t get what they want, they head to the streets.
After the demonstrations and end-of-days statements from elected officials following the Supreme Court’s Dobbs case, one almost forgets that the decision came with a reasoned opinion by Justice
with concurrences by Justices
Days before, Justice Thomas provided a 56-page explanation for affirming the Second Amendment.
But who cares about the details of judicial opinions anymore?
Hillary Clinton’s reductio ad absurdum on Justice Thomas this week: “He’s been a person of grievance for as long as I have known him—resentment, grievance, anger.”
After a draft of Justice Alito’s opinion was leaked, sidewalk protesters besieged his and his colleagues’ homes. A high fence rings the Supreme Court building and won’t come down anytime soon. The fence and the site where rioters breached the Capitol building are D.C.’s newest tourist attractions.
We’ll focus on two statements in Justice Alito’s decision that take the discussion past abortion, if that’s possible.
The opinion quotes from Justice
dissent in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992). Scalia wrote that Roe v. Wade “destroyed the compromises of the past, rendered compromise impossible for the future, and required the entire issue to be resolved uniformly, at the national level” (my emphasis).
Justice Alito described what Roe did to the country’s social cohesion. It “sparked a national controversy that has embittered our political culture for a half century.” That is, Roe caused America’s long culture wars.
“Culture wars” was a term conservatives coined to describe the post-Roe conflict between traditional beliefs and progressive heterodoxy. The previously nonpolitical Christian right emerged. The left has never worried much about the half century of cultural embitterment described by Justice Alito. It has dismissed the battles over the culture as a political invention or an obsession of right-wing extremists (known more recently as the “deplorables”).
A stark irony sits in the middle of this week’s uproar: Obergefell v. Hodges. That is the court’s 5-4 decision in 2015 recognizing the legal validity of gay marriage. Many Americans disagreed with it. But it was accepted. No fence went up around the court. Scalia’s concerns about the death of compromise looked premature. And it won’t be overturned.
But about a month after Obergefell, the transgender rights issue erupted, focusing—incredible in retrospect—on bathroom access. Despite Obergefell’s welcome modus vivendi, the culture war reignited, extending more recently even to primary education. Which is why Justice Alito could cite a bitter politics at 50 years, and still going.
For progressive Democrats, every waking moment is Armageddon.
founder of She the People, says “the future of the Democratic Party is at stake.” And maybe it is.
Public protests are part of politics in any free country, a First Amendment right repeatedly affirmed by the out-of-favor Supreme Court. But the average American voter must be wondering whether the Democratic Party’s politics is about anything other than these street protests.
The Washington Post reported this week that congressional progressives are upset that Mr. Biden said people should express opposition to the court’s abortion decision by voting in November, which Reps. Ocasio-Cortez and Cori Bush say is inadequate. According to the Post, some Democratic lawmakers and activists “criticize the notion that it is on voters to turn out in November when they say Democrats are unwilling to push boundaries and upend the system in defense of hard-won civil liberties.”
Many Democrats in office today were community organizers. Going into the street to “upend the system” with an apparently unlimited rights agenda is what professional activists do for a living. This now-constant style of bullhorn politics—with its shaken fists and denunciations of normal deliberation and process—is defining the public’s impression of who the Democrats are.
By aligning so closely with street protests and apocalyptic claims about abortion, climate and gender, the Democrats have created a significant perception problem for the party heading into the midterm elections and perhaps for years. With these allies, the party always seem to be living at the edge of civil disturbance. Now they have repudiated the U.S. Supreme Court—in toto.
Come November, I expect most voters will elect not to live in a state of constant political rage and moral chaos.
Politics Briefing: Nishnawbe Aski Nation opposes possible location for nuclear waste storage site – The Globe and Mail
Nishnawbe Aski Nation’s Chiefs-in-Assembly passed a resolution on Wednesday “vehemently” opposing the possibility of an underground storage site for nuclear waste, which could be built between Ignace and Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation in northern Ontario.
Chiefs expressed deep concern over the possibility of such a site during discussions at NAN’s annual Keewaywin Conference, which is being held in Timmins. Ignace, as well as Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation, would hold the approval power for the project if their region is ultimately selected. The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is also still considering South Bruce in Ontario as a possible location for its deep geological repository, which would see spent nuclear fuel stored roughly 500-metres underground.
“Northern Ontario is not a garbage can,” said Chief Ramona Sutherland of Constance Lake First Nation. “We work for seven generations of our people – I don’t want to pass this down to my son, my grandson, and then his sons.”
Chief Wayne Moonias, of Neskantaga First Nation, called the proposal disturbing, and said “the thought of having a nuclear waste site in our area, it’s just not something that we can live with … Our homelands are at stake with this proposal.”
A potential spill, Mr. Moonias cautioned, would not just affect the site itself. “It’s going to impact our river system. It’s going to impact our sturgeon. Our sturgeon is so important in our community,” he said.
The resolution called for Nishnawbe Aski Nation to take action to prevent the NWMO from placing any nuclear waste in NAN traditional territories, including forming a committee, engaging in civil protests and considering legal action.
Jennifer Guerrieri, a NAN staffer, said in a presentation Wednesday that a choice between the two potential sites is expected roughly within the next six months.
This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Marsha McLeod, who is filling in for Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.
NO NATIONAL TRACKING – Canada does not have a national system for tracking or preventing shortages of nurses and other medical workers, which health leaders say has contributed to hospitals across the country temporarily shuttering emergency rooms and intensive-care units this summer. Story here.
ALBERTA EASES REGULATIONS – The Alberta government has eased some restrictions on the province’s four major universities that prevented them from forming new partnerships with entities or individuals linked to the Chinese government. Story here.
TRUMP HITS BACK WITH VIDEO – Former U.S. president Donald Trump has unveiled a new video to present himself as the best person to lead the country, following an FBI raid on his Mar-a-Lago estate. Story here.
ANALYSIS OF TRUMP RAID – The Justice Department has never before requested, or received, a search warrant to go through the home of a former American leader. Story here.
ALBERTA AWARDS PRIZE – Alberta’s legislature awarded a prize to an essay that equated immigration to “cultural suicide” and argued women are “not exactly equal” to men. Story here.
DENTAL DEAL MAY FACE BUMPS – Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said the Liberal government is working to meet its end-of-year deadline to deliver dental care coverage to children, but that providing new services is complicated. Story by the Canadian Press here.
THIS AND THAT
The House of Commons is not sitting again until Sept. 19. The Senate is to resume sitting on Sept. 20.
MINISTER FOR WOMEN IN WINNIPEG – Marci Ien, the federal minister for women and gender equality and youth, announced $30-million to support crisis hotlines across Canada on Wednesday.
SUPPORT FOR ACADIAN GATHERING – Ginette Petitpas Taylor, the federal minister of official languages, announced $4.6-million to help organize the next Congrès mondial acadien (Acadian World Congress), which will be held in August, 2024 in southwestern Nova Scotia.
PRIME MINISTER’S DAY
The Prime Minister is on a two-week vacation in Costa Rica.
No schedules provided for party leaders.
Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on Trump’s possible “rendezvous with reality:” “When the smoke clears, then, we are probably going to find that Mr. Trump is in a world of trouble. That it came to this, after all, was only because he refuses, more than 18 months after leaving the White House, to give up the documents voluntarily. Which suggests he is every bit as conscious as the DoJ of how explosive they are. And these aren’t the only legal perils he faces … One way or another, the odds are increasing that Mr. Trump will soon face his own Alex Jones moment, a rendezvous with reality.”
Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on limited support for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: “Can Mr. Trudeau rise from the stupor in which he currently finds himself? It’s possible. He has a fairly long runway ahead of him thanks to the NDP. But a lot of the damage that has been done to the Trudeau brand is likely irreversible. The Prime Minister is many things, but stupid he is not. He can see what’s going on. The question is – what will he do about it?”
Elaine Craig (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on compensating women victimized by players: “Until we successfully press antiquated organizations such as Hockey Canada to change, we need to accept the inevitable. So why shouldn’t hockey parents pay a small amount each year into a fund to help compensate the women who will be sexually victimized by some of the kids currently being steeped in the sport’s toxic environment? Ultimately, here’s why we should be most angry: It doesn’t have to be this way.”
Politics Podcast: Republican Outsiders Have Made Their Mark This Cycle – FiveThirtyEight
In Minnesota’s special general election on Tuesday, Republican Brad Finstad won by only 4 percentage points in the 1st Congressional District, where then-President Donald Trump won by double digits in 2020, adding evidence to the idea that the GOP is experiencing a backlash after the Supreme Court’s decision on abortion.
In this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, the crew breaks down this election as well as notable primary races in Minnesota, Vermont and Wisconsin. They also look at how incumbents are faring in the midterm primaries overall and discuss the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s home in Florida, and what that may mean for the Justice Department’s larger investigation.
You can listen to the episode by clicking the “play” button in the audio player above or by downloading it in iTunes, the ESPN App or your favorite podcast platform. If you are new to podcasts, learn how to listen.
The FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast is recorded Mondays and Thursdays. Help new listeners discover the show by leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. Have a comment, question or suggestion for “good polling vs. bad polling”? Get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments.
Opinion | Donald Trump’s Politics of Persecution – The New York Times
After the Federal Bureau of Investigation searched Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., on Monday — an extraordinary event in the history of the United States — the former president and his allies immediately began to howl that Trump was being persecuted.
Trump issued a statement that said his “beautiful home” was “currently under siege, raided and occupied” and “nothing like this has ever happened to a president of the United States before.” Left out of this victimhood framing was that this wasn’t so much an action but a reaction — a reaction to a president corrupt on a level this country has never seen before.
Trump wrote in his statement, of course referring to himself in the third person, that “the political persecution of President Donald J. Trump has been going on for years” and “it just never ends.”
The pivotal word there was “persecution.”
Persecution is a powerful social concept. It moves people to empathize with and defend those perceived to have been wronged. It rouses righteous indignation. And it produces the moral superiority of long suffering.
For instance, central to the story of the three Abrahamic religions — Christianity, Judaism and Islam — is the presence of persecution and the ultimate overcoming of it.
The origin story of America itself is of a country born of religious persecution as a group of English separatists searched for a place where they could experience religious freedom.
And many of the most celebrated historical figures around the world — Galileo, Joan of Arc, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela — were persecuted.
Throughout history, political persecutions of whole populations have led to ghastly crimes against humanity. Some continue to this day, like China’s oppression of the Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang being subjected to internment camps and forced sterilization.
In January of last year, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called it an ongoing genocide, saying that “we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uyghurs by the Chinese party-state.”
But alongside these stories of actual persecution are scoundrels pretending to be persecuted, activating the same defensive human instincts in people that genuine accounts do.
American politics continues to be dictated by persecution. There are both the historical and modern iterations of the persecution of women, L.G.B.T.Q. people and racial, ethnic and religious minorities. Where advances have been made, they have often been, generally speaking, pushed by liberals and resisted by conservatives.
But with those liberal victories, conservatives came to see themselves as the new persecuted class, reversing the roles. Restricting their ability to discriminate was to them an undue burden.
They robed their supposed persecution in religion, what the Barnard College professor of religion Elizabeth A. Castelli calls the “Christian persecution complex.” “There is no precise origin point” for the complex, she wrote in 2007, “though political activism organized under the sign of ‘religious persecution’ and ‘religious freedom’ has certainly grown substantially in the last decade and most pressingly in the post-September 11th context.”
As Castelli told me on Wednesday, the presidential elections of Barack Obama on one side and Trump on the other have amplified the complex, instilling in conservatives even greater feelings of loss and of being under siege.
I would argue that the entire MAGA movement was born of Trump weaponizing the siege ideology held by many Americans — white replacement theory, immigrant invasion and loss of culture — and framing himself as their messiah and potential martyr.
Trump’s movement was propped up by what the political theorist William E. Connolly calls the “evangelical-capitalist resonance machine.”
“What is the connection today between evangelical Christianity, cowboy capitalism, the electronic news media and the Republican Party?” Connolly asked in a paper he wrote in 2005. Pointing out that these groups do not always share the same religious and economic doctrines, he argued that a broader sensibility is what connects them. “The complex becomes a powerful machine as evangelical and corporate sensibilities resonate together,” he wrote, “drawing each into a larger movement that dampens the importance of doctrinal differences between them.”
Connolly theorized that these seemingly disparate groups are bound together by a kind of spiritual existentialism, and wrote that “their ruthlessness, ideological extremism, readiness to defend a market ideology in the face of significant evidence and compulsion to create or condone scandals against any party who opposes their vision of the world express a fundamental disposition toward being in the world.”
I don’t think Trump understands this on an intellectual level or is even aware of it. I don’t believe the man reads. But in his own selfish, craven desire to pilfer and prosper, he understands the workings of the machine — and how to exploit it — on a gut level.
On Monday, Trump once again claimed that efforts to hold him accountable were evidence of political persecution, and his followers rallied to his defense.
In fact, reports like one from Reuters on Tuesday claim that the search of Trump’s home may actually have boosted him, placing him in his “political sweet spot,” allowing him to play victim of “institutional forces” — the Deep State — “at a time when his grip on the party appeared to be slipping.”
For Trump, the politics of persecution is both his security blanket and his weapon of choice.
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Samsung unveils new foldable smartphones, seeking keep lead in growing market – Reuters
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