Civil Debate and Political Discourse

I am watching the first 100 days of the Trump presidency with a clear eye and clear mind. I think that what you are seeing is what he promised he would do and that is unlike most politicians. To that end it is driving the left crazy because they object to what he promised and certainly object to what he is doing. I don’t agree with every decision made by the President and I think some of them were handled clumsily but they are decisions made and there are proper ways to object

I fully understand that they object to the policies he is implementing. That is what the election was about and this is the nature of politics. But what is happening now goes beyond politics and is setting a precedent that could damage our system of government for years to come. In the Senate the Democrats are stalling on Cabinet nominees and delaying confirmations. This has the effect of leaving the departments in question without leadership and pushes back the timetable of implementing new policies. Perhaps that is the underlying reason for the delay but I think it is something else.

First we should look at the nominees and consider if they are qualified. Betsy DeVos is the nominee to be the Secretary of Education. Of all the Trump nominees she is probably the weakest. She does not have a background in public education but she has been involved in education in other areas. She has been a strong proponent of charter schools, particularly in urban areas. I don’t think any Democrat can say with a straight face the urban school are succeeding. They are failing and that means the students attending these schools are not being afforded the opportunities that other students have in finding success both academically and in preparation for joining the workforce. Yet today it took Vice President Pence to break the tie and confirm her as all Democrats voted against her.

Now we have the Democrats delaying more cabinet positions. They have attacked Steven Mnuchin as the Secretary of the Treasury and one of the talking points is he is to wealthy. The same attack is made of Wilber Ross for Secretary of Commerce. Andrew Puzder is facing strong opposition as the Secretary of Labor and there is an all out attack on Scott Pruitt as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency. I have not mentioned Tom Price as the Secretary of Health and Human Services and they attack him because he traded in health stocks while a member of Congress. Dr. Price is probably as well prepared to lead this nation’s health care agency as anyone in the country.

The real fight will come with a current sitting Senator for Attorney General. This would be Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL). On this nomination they accuse Senator Sessions of being racially insensitive based on some comments he has been alleged to have made some 30 years ago. One of the leading attackers against Sessions in a Judiciary meeting was by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN).   You may remember Sen. Franken from his days as a comedian on Saturday Night Live. You may also remember that Sen. Franken has never been to law school nor been engaged in any legal activity but now he is an expert on civil rights law. He based much of his attack in the Committee on the testimony and writings of Gerald Herbert. Herbert made a lot of claims about Sessions but failed to acknowledge, as did Franken, that he was mistaken in the facts on several of his claims.   In fact Herbert had to walk back much of his testimony that was negative to Senator Sessions. But facts don’t seem to matter when we come to opposing Trump and his nominees.

From a clearly personal perspective I have always felt that Presidential nominees deserve an up or down vote in the Senate and so the use of the so-called “nuclear option” is something that I believe should have been implemented years ago.  They are different from judicial appointments, which are for life, because they only last the length of an administration.  But delaying and trying to defeat nominees on purely political grounds because they don’t meet your political litmus tests is unacceptable.  That is why we held an election.  And to quote former President Obama, “Elections have consequences.”  One of those consequences is the people leading the government are not going to be espousing the positions of the opposition party.

So what we have is a well-organized attempt by those on the left to “delegitimize” the Presidency of Donald Trump. The use words like “normalize” and other terms in their attempt to portray the President as unfit for office. They encourage people to take to the streets and protest every decision made by the administration. These little excursions often lead to rioting and damage of private property but it is all excused because the perpetrators are exercising their right to free speech.

My biggest fear is where this is leading us as a nation and is there a possibility that this could actually cause irreparable harm to our form of government. Lets presume that in four years the Democrats are successful in defeating Donald Trump and the Republicans retain control of the United States Senate. The new President will nominate candidates for the cabinet and expect the Senate to rapidly move them through the process to get them installed in the departments and agencies they are chosen to lead. But what incentives will the Republicans have to allow any of them through? They can stall them out for months and even with the nuclear rule in effect it would not matter is the Republicans have control of the Senate. If that were to happen the Democrats and their allies on the left would cry foul and demand that they candidates be confirmed. But I suspect this very scenario will happen at some time.

So why are the Democrats playing this dangerous game? I believe it is because they suffered a major loss in the political fight last year. They lost a Presidential race they thought was a slam-dunk and they failed to wrest control of the Senate from the Republicans when all the pundits predicted they would regain control of the Senate. So now they feel they have to reenergize their base. They have to throw them red meat to show they are opposing Trump in any way, shape or form. They have to stomp their feet and wave their hands in a frenetic manner to keep the base’s attention. But what they are accomplishing may be something that we all regret, that is the end of civil debate and disagreement, which is at the heart of our political system.

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