CHUCK SCHUMER’S TOUGH BALANCING ACT: CNN reports on an interesting dynamic to keep an eye on:
“For Schumer, the challenges will be formidable. He’ll have to listen to the vocal and outspoken progressive wing of his caucus, led by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who have legions of supporters. But he also has five red-state Democrats in states Trump won convincingly — Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia — up for re-election in 2018. And if Schumer takes his caucus too far to the left, he’s bound to could put his moderates in a difficult political spot.”
Worth watching: Whether those red state Democrats claim the party has moved too far to “the left” when it resists Trump’s agenda.
— The first big political war of Trump’s presidency will be explosive, Greg Sargent, Washington Post, yesterday at 9:55 a.m.
Late yesterday I received a listserve email from Bernie Sanders’ new organization, Our Revolution, asking what we most wanted the organization to do immediately. I haven’t responded yet, but my message will be a plea that it begin an intensive effort to inform the public in the Rust Belt states, and the Midwest generally, of what exactly the Conservative Legal Movement was, and is, up to regarding handing control of the federal courts, and federal law, to billionaires and mega-corporate interests.
That’s what Citizens United was really about. But it’s also what a slew of other 5-4 Supreme Court rulings have been about since the Conservative Legal Movement gained that majority on the Court. And during the three decades when it thoroughly controlled the federal appellate and trial-level courts.
The Supreme Court effectively rewrote the Federal Arbitration Act to forced-arbitration clauses in almost every aspect of employment, consumer (including banking and credit card law), and securities law. It also rewrote that Act so that it uses those forced arbitration clauses to effectively eliminate class actions.
It literally rewrote the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure, Rule 8(a), that sets the parameters for what lawsuit complaints, the legal pleading must state
It has been extremely hostile to labor unions; Samuel Alito openly invites the filing of litigation whose very goal is to undermine or outright eliminate them.
Every single one of these attacks, and many others, were born and grew up through a precision pipeline system of think tanks and so-called legal foundations, small, non-profit (thus “Foundation” as part of their title) law firms, all funded by extreme economic self-styled libertarian (the Madison Avenue-inspired ideological label they use) billionaires, including the Kochs, financial-industry billionaire families that include the Mercers and the Ricketts and who were top funders of Trump’s general-election campaign, and oil-and-gas billionaires, including top funders of Trump’s general-election and primary campaigns.
And that includes, extremely significantly, the Federalist Society, cofounded in about 1980 by Antonin Scalia, and whose most aggressive and unabashed members include Alito, Clarence Thomas and a slew of high-profile members of the federal appellate bench. John Roberts also apparently was a member, although very quietly, throughout his career as a lawyer.
What I want most, and most immediately, for Our Revolution to do is to begin a major public-awareness push to tell all those Midwesterners and other Rust Belters—including those in rural areas and small towns—what exactly Trump was saying when he promised during the campaign to appoint justices in the mold of Antonin Scalia. And who, exactly—who, exactly—is feeding him the names on list of possible Supreme Court nominees. And who exactly will be feeding him recommendations for lower federal court appointments.
Suffice it to say, it ain’t the Rust Belters and Midwesterners who brung him, late in the game, to this dance because they support the Paul Ryan fiscal plan whose goal is to all-but-eliminate both taxes on the wealthy and the social safety net programs, such as food stamps and Medicaid, that many of them rely upon for, literally, survival.
Nor was it because they salivate at the thought of industry lobbyists writing legislation to be fed quickly through Congress and onto President Trump’s desk for him to sign.
Nor, I’ll venture, was it because they want the Supreme Court and the lower federal courts to be proxy arms of economic-winger billionaires and industries ranging from Wall Street to Walmart to communications to chemical and pharmaceutical, to Big Ag, to fossil fuel and lumber industries. As they were for roughly three decades.
Mitt Romney received the votes of the deplorables, without whose support Trump would not have won. But Romney isn’t president. Barack Obama is. Trump’s bizarre efforts beginning in 2011 to change that fact, notwithstanding.
Yet throughout the day yesterday, the news was filled with Ryan’s and McConnell’s exaltation at their expectation that President Trump will effectively be President Ryan. Puppet Trump, in other words. They’ll serve him avalanches of legislation to sign. And they will control the key appointments to every single federal agency and commission that they want to control. Which is almost all of them.
Including the SEC and the NLRB, the FDA, the FTC and the FCC. As well as the Interior Dept., which they presume now will simply hand over to the lumber and fossil fuel industries massive amounts of federal lands.
Which brings me to this: Every bit as important as informing the public of this, for Our Revolution, for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, for Democracy for America, and the reconstructed, soon-to-be-Sanders-supported DNC—and for Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren themselves—to do, right now, is to begin a massive public information campaign about this that targets House members and Senate Republicans up for reelection in 2018. In their states. In their districts. Including seemingly safe ones in the Rust Belt and the entire Midwest.
We have their number. As we do Donald Trump’s. And we have the grass-roots movement and the social-media networks to determine their latitude for installing these virulently anti-working class, pro-billionaire, pro-mega-corporate, pro-mega-powerful-industry cooptation of each of the three branches of the federal government. Including that professed savior of the working class, Donald Trump.
I still remember looking that the map of Michigan’s counties the day after the primary last March, showing how each county voted in each of the two primaries—and being utterly stunned looking at the one for the Democratic primary. If I recall correctly, every single county except Wayne (home to Detroit) and Genesee (Flint and surrounding area)—both counties largely African-American—voted for Sanders. The Republican stronghold counties in the western part of the state all the way along or near Lake Michigan, went heavily for Bernie. And, had African-Americans in Wayne and Genesee voted for Clinton roughly 3-1, as projected, instead of roughly 2-1, as they did, Bernie still would not have beaten her.
Apparently Chuck Schumer is unaware of this. Bernie should tell him. The old sheriff is gone, run out of town, or more accurately, the country, on Tuesday. There’s a new sheriff in the country. Named economic populism.
It could have been our sheriff; thanks to folks like you, it wasn’t. But we can make due with the one who is not ours.
One side of this divide—the wealthy Republican and corporate elite, proxied by Ryan, McConnell, and the Federalist Society, or the folks responsible in such large part for bringing Trump to the dance—will control the federal government. Puppet Trump. Puppeteers Ryan, McConnell, Wall Street and other industry lobbyists, and the Federalist Society. On the other side, Rust Belt and Midwestern blue-collar voters. Including labor union members.
And if it’s the former, it will last only until January 2019. Believe me.
Better yet, believe Bernie Sanders.
UPDATE: Holyyyy macaroni. Chuck Schumer’s gotten the message now. It took two and a half days. But he’s gotten it now.
See “Schumer throws his support behind Keith Ellison for DNC chairman,” posted about an hour ago on the Washington Post’s website.
So the first big political war turned out to be a two-and-a-half-day-long skirmish. And this is why. The times, they are a-changin’. Really, really quickly. In the Democratic Party.
Updated added 11/11 at 11:19 a.m. Just past the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. It’s Veterans’ Day, folks. Not to equate the two events, of course. Just to acknowledge the meaning of Veterans’ Day, which originally was called Armistice Day.