On Nov. 11, Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, the incoming House Judiciary Committee chairman, backed away from impeaching new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Mollie Hemingway, a conservative columnist with The Federalist, initially exposed the plan on Nov. 7 after overhearing Nadler discussing Kavanaugh's fate on a commuter-train ride.
Too bad Nadler cannot scuttle another bad Kavanaugh-related idea floated by some lefties who seek a more conventional way to end the Trump terror than reaching for a Molotov cocktail, shiv, brass knuckles or brickbats.
Over a four-day period in early October, coinciding with Kavanaugh's confirmation, The Washington Post published at least four pieces designed to plant rhetorical termites in the Founding Fathers' constitutional framework.
The drumbeat began Oct. 6, when reporter Philip Bump noted Kavanaugh had the "distinct honor" of being "the first justice nominated by someone who lost the popular vote to earn his seat on the bench with support from senators representing less than half of the country while having his nomination opposed by a majority of the country."
On Oct. 8, Post columnist Aaron Blake added, "It's 100 percent true that Democrats are increasingly on the short end of how the U.S. government is set up." How? Because the Senate is "where small GOP-dominated states are increasingly passing things with the backing of a minority of Americans behind them."
That same day Post columnist Anne Applebaum argued Americans are "living under the rule of a minority," as found in Saddam's Iraq or Assad's Syria. "Thanks to the quirks of our Constitution and the vagaries of our politics ...," she wrote, "the inhabitants of rural America have a far louder voice in Congress than the inhabitants of urban America." Kavanaugh's appointment, she added, was the work of a "minority-dominated Senate and the minority-elected president."
Finally, on Oct. 9, Post columnist Greg Sargent noted, "This (Kavanaugh) episode represents the further entrenchment of minority rule." Trump, elected with "a minority of the national popular vote, has appointed two justices..., both of whom were confirmed by senators representing a minority of the national population," he wrote. Sargent continued, the Senate's GOP majority, created by "grossly unequal representation," ignited a "public backlash" to Kavanaugh that was "partly rooted in anger over this ongoing display of minority rule."
This is subversive stuff, and demonstrates why the Founding Fathers feared direct democracy. Unlike the Post, they didn't want senators elected, or Supreme Court justices appointed, by mob rule.
But let's add some context to the Post's points.
First, yes, Donald Trump lost the popular vote in 2016 by 2.8 million votes. But that lead is skewed by California, which Hillary Clinton won by roughly 4.3 million votes. Trump won 2,649 counties to 503 for Clinton. His popularity in the heart of country illustrates why the Founders dispersed Electoral College votes by states' populations. Contrary to the Post's desires, the framers didn't want densely populated urban areas to dominate the presidential election.
Secondly, the Founders believed the Senate, unlike the House, should represent the states and not the people. That's why they all get two, and population doesn't matter. The Post smells something nefarious, but the system originally was designed to protect each state's interests, and those of each state's entire population. We derailed the Founders' intent, and made people think the Senate should operate like the House, when we began directly electing senators in 1914.
Finally, as for minority-elected presidents naming Supreme Court justices, the Post's caterwauling cadre conspicuously omits Bill Clinton. Clinton appointed Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the high court after winning just 43 percent of the vote in 1992. Critics along these lines tend to only look at two-candidate races. When you consider multicandidate elections, Clinton, Richard Nixon, Harry Truman, Woodrow Wilson and Grover Cleveland all named justices after winning less than 50 percent of the popular vote. So, to the Post, this "minority" president schtick only matters when Trump is the guy making the picks.
The Post's writers are not ignorant. So, this malignant staccato of doubt-sowing was deliberately intended to suggest our system is obsolete, broken, or unfair. Don't buy it. Just because it doesn't work the way the Post wants it to does not mean it doesn't work.
— Bill Thompson email@example.com is the editorial page editor of The Ledger in Lakeland, Florida.