October 12, 2020

Republicans Will Get What They Deserve

At some point in the future — perhaps as soon as next January — the Democrats will control the presidency and both houses of Congress. When that time comes, it seems likely that the Democrats will use their power to remake government in a way that is structurally advantageous to the Democratic Party. Whether by ending the filibuster, granting statehood to Washington DC and Puerto Rico, or stacking the Supreme Court, the Democrats will do things that Republicans feel are unfair. Democrats will bend the rules, they will ignore historical norms, and they will demonstrate extreme partisanship in everything they do. The Democrats will use every tool at their disposal to destroy whatever structural advantages Republicans have given themselves over the past 12 years.

And Republicans will deserve every bit of it.

The filibuster was commonly used until the Democratic-led Senate invoked the “nuclear option” in 2013 to limit its use against judicial nominees, excluding the Supreme Court. The Republican-led Senate further weakened the filibuster in 2017 by disallowing it for Supreme Court nominations. The next logical step in this progression is to eliminate the filibuster altogether. A Democrat-controlled Senate is likely to take that step if necessary to prevent a Republican minority from holding up key Democratic priorities. The Democrats will claim that the filibuster is anti-democratic, which is true. Republicans will complain that abolishing the filibuster is politically motivated, which will also be true. In the end, Republicans will lose significant legislative ground through the Democratic party’s use of ethically-questionable tactics.

And Republicans will deserve every bit of ground they lose.

Both the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have held referendums where overwhelming majorities of residents — all of them US citizens — have expressed support for statehood. With control of both houses of Congress as well as the presidency, Democrats will have the power to admit both as new states. The two new states would be granted four new Senate seats, as well as House of Representative seats proportional to their populations. These seats would likely be controlled by Democrats, significantly decreasing the Republican party’s influence for years to come. The Democrats will claim that denying statehood to these citizens is unfair and a violation of their rights to congressional representation, which is true. Republicans will complain that admitting two new states is a political act that unfairly stacks the deck against future Republican legislative priorities, which may also be true. In the end, Republicans will lose legislative power for a generation or more.

And Republicans will deserve every bit of power they lose.

It is very likely that Republicans will ram through Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s replacement on the Supreme Court before Democrats have a way to stop them. Republicans may think that a 6-3 conservative majority for years to come will provide them with opportunities to create sweeping new judicial precedents that align with conservative ideology. But Democrats can, and probably will, prevent this future by legislatively expanding the Supreme Court with any number of new seats on the bench, all of which would be filled with far-left ideologues. This move would be blatantly partisan, it would diminish the credibility of the court in the minds of the American people, and it could lead to future Republican countermoves that further de-legitimize the judicial branch of government. But Republicans will be blamed for the inevitable destruction of judicial legitimacy.

And Republicans will deserve every bit of the blame they receive.

Republicans deserve to lose legislative tools like the filibuster because they were unable to use this tool responsibly when they were the minority party in the Senate under President Obama. Instead of using the filibuster as an occasional check against far-left overreach, they used it routinely to prevent any Obama appointees from getting approved or even getting a vote.

Republicans deserve to lose legislative power because they were unwilling to live with the structural anti-democratic advantages that the Senate already gives them: They had to push for even greater advantage. They fought for policies that suppress voter turnout among under-represented communities, because they know that increased voter turnout hurts Republicans. They resisted every effort to address gerrymandering, because they know that it helps Republicans far more often than it helps Democrats. And worst of all, they systematically destroyed confidence in our elections by making blatantly false mail-in voter fraud claims during a pandemic, when we should be encouraging more people to vote by mail rather than fewer.

Republicans deserve the blame for de-legitimizing the courts because they conjured a new precedent out of thin air to deny Merrick Garland a vote when he was nominated by President Obama. The rage this created among Democrats and many independents was absolutely predictable and absolutely appropriate. Then Republicans fanned the flames of that rage by backtracking on their new precedent just four years later to push through a vote on President Trump’s nominee to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Republicans have blatantly lied and cheated the system to steal a Supreme Court seat. They have sacrificed any claim to the moral high ground if and when the Democrats try to steal one or more seats in return.

Republicans will deserve everything the Democrats do to them as retribution for the past 12 years. When that happens, I fully expect Republicans to play the victim card, and to accuse the Democrats of foul play. Their complaints will fall on deaf ears, and they will only have themselves to blame.

They will only be getting what they deserve.