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July 11, 2005

What's missing from this appeal by John Kerry re: Supreme Court?

-- by Thomas Leavitt

The entire appeal, which arrived in my inbox this morning, is enclosed below for reference, but I'm just going to highlight the portion relevant to my commentary...

Kerry opens thusly:

Let's make our principles crystal clear right out of the box.
We will never support a Supreme Court nominee intent on reversing Roe v. Wade and undoing critical civil rights protections

Later on, he says:

From the range of choices the White House is currently considering, America and the Constitution would be best served if President Bush chooses a nominee in the mold of Sandra Day O'Connor, who was named to the Court by no less of a conservative than Ronald Reagan and approved unanimously by the United States Senate.
But President Bush's most extreme supporters are demanding a nominee who doesn't think or act anything like Justice O'Connor. They want a rigid ideologue who will reverse what President Bush has called the "settled law" of Roe v. Wade, one who will support their efforts to use the Supreme Court as a battering ram to undo decades of progress on civil rights, Roe v. Wade, and privacy. [Bolding mine, TL]

What's missing here?

In a word: economics. Meat and potatoes (apologies to vegetarians like myself). The entire issue of what the scope and function of government's intervention in the private sector/free market should be. Listen for discussion on these issues, and all you hear is a vast, echoing silence.

The agenda Kerry outlines is the narrow one of the religious right... but the ambitions of the Federalist Society and the neo-conservative ultra right, the conservative think tanks and the foundations that fund them, the "movement" right, are far, far broader. They want to wipe out any and all government functions, services and activities that they perceived as interfering with the operation of the private sector/free market and "restore" the government to some panceanic pre-Rooseveltian utopia.

It is totally possible that the Bush Administration and the Democrats will wind up "compromising" on someone whose position on the issues Kerry mentions is "moderate", but who is a a flaming Borkian ultra right wing ideologue on everything else. This is not acceptable!

Kerry's appeal demonstrates everything that is wrong with the Democratic Party - they've conceded the field on the fundamental issues of redistributive economics, government intervention in the economy, and private sector regulation... and why is this?

I'll tell you why: because the Democratic and Republican Party are, in essence, two sides of the same free market coin. The intellectual underpinnings of the average elected Democrat's ideological perspective*, share, at a fundamental level, the same set of assumptions that underpin the arguments put forth by their right wing opponents. Their disagreements with their Republican opponents are a matter of degree, not kind.

* (Kucinich and a few renegade progressives aside)

Here's why Kerry's appeal is so flawed:

Most women want to reserve the right to have an abortion, if the circumstances demand it... but most women would also much prefer to not have to make that decision. They'd prefer to have the ability to choose to have the kid... but to make that decision, they need not just a social safety net, but the social infrastructure in place to make raising a kid and earning a living feasible: daycare facilities (subsidized, in most cases), affordable healthcare (for their kids, AND them) that is free if they can't pay, functional public transportation, good jobs, a strong economy, a strong and effective public education system, the ability to save for retirement (pensions, social security, hell... just not having to spend every penny earned to survive). The list goes on and on and on.

The same thing goes for minorities protected by civil rights - queer, African-American, Latino... protection from job discrimination doesn't do you a damn bit of good if there are no jobs, or the jobs don't pay enough to support you and a family (however defined).

Let's talk turkey: minimum wage, EPA, OSHA/workplace safety, financial regulation and reporting, Pension Guaranty Benefit fund, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, HUD, environmental protections/regulations/endangered species, election finance regulation and reporting requirements, campaign finance limits, on and on and on... all these, the ultra-right would like to see wiped out. On all of these, at best, the Democrats are in a defensive posture, and incapable of articulating an effective argument for anything but preservation of the status quo. The best defense is a good offense, and the Democrats don't have one... and refuse to make the draft picks necessary to build one.

This is why I'm a member of the Green Party of the United States. Until the Democratic Party, as a whole, and through their Presidential nominee, put forth a strong and convincing argument that articulates a vision for society that I agree with, they won't earn my vote or my loyalty.


Entire appeal, enclosed for reference

Dear Thomas,

Let's make our principles crystal clear right out of the box.

We will never support a Supreme Court nominee intent on reversing Roe v. Wade and undoing critical civil rights protections. And we will never accept a double standard that says, on a decision vital to America's future, President Bush's most extreme supporters can campaign all-out while you and I are urged to be silent.

I am asking you to endorse and help pay for a powerful message that will appear in the days ahead in newspapers across the country. Show the President and the Senate just how strongly you feel about protecting our fundamental freedoms:

http://contribute.johnkerry.com/

[Add referred to is located at http://savethecourt.johnkerry.com/ ]

From the range of choices the White House is currently considering, America and the Constitution would be best served if President Bush chooses a nominee in the mold of Sandra Day O'Connor, who was named to the Court by no less of a conservative than Ronald Reagan and approved unanimously by the United States Senate.

But President Bush's most extreme supporters are demanding a nominee who doesn't think or act anything like Justice O'Connor. They want a rigid ideologue who will reverse what President Bush has called the "settled law" of Roe v. Wade, one who will support their efforts to use the Supreme Court as a battering ram to undo decades of progress on civil rights, Roe v. Wade, and privacy.

They want something else as well.

They want you and me to participate in this momentous debate about fundamental freedoms with one hand tied behind our back. They actually expect us to step aside while they roll over our rights. Let's prove that we will never let that happen.

http://contribute.johnkerry.com/

While they unleash a multi-million dollar advertising campaign on behalf of President Bush's choice in close coordination with the White House, you and I are supposed to remain silent -- lest we be charged with "rushing to judgment."

While they conduct a no-holds-barred effort to brush aside any and all questions about the nominee's record and his or her commitment to protecting individual freedom, you and I are supposed to be silenced for fear of being called "obstructionists" and cowered by their threat to revive the "nuclear option."

That's worse than unacceptable. It's un-American, and it's not how we carry on public debate in the greatest democracy on earth. Show them that, with the future of the Supreme Court on the line, we won't stand on the sidelines:

http://contribute.johnkerry.com/

I know I can count on your support in making the following commitment: I will insist on a complete and full examination of the record of President Bush's nominee. And, if that nominee is intent on reversing Roe v. Wade and essential Supreme Court protections for civil rights, I will use every option I have as a United States Senator to keep that nominee off the Court.

Sincerely,

John Kerry

P.S. Don't let them silence our voices. Go out in your community and spread the word along to everyone you know by passing on this message. We must all commit ourselves to standing up for Roe V. Wade and our civil rights.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at July 11, 2005 11:48 AM

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Comments

1880 here we come!

Posted by: Agitprop at July 11, 2005 1:37 PM

You've got a great point Thomas. I promised myself I would work with my DFA Meet Up through the 2006 election and re-evaluate. Howard Dean is doing a great job, but his message doesn't seem to be penetrating the kevlar lined skulls of the DLC types who love corporate contributions.

The Democratic party may be so congenitally corrupt that it is beyond human aid and incapable of reform.

They also seem bound and determined to make the same mistake Nixon made when he turned LBJ's war into Nixon's war.

I'm also going to visit my local Move On Meet Up this week and see what they have going on. I wasn't impressed with their fund raiser for Sen. Byrd. If the DLC can't take care of their own, why should the grassroots help?

Posted by: Gary Boatwright at July 11, 2005 2:06 PM

This is exactly right. Listening to / Reading Democratic talking points, particularly those issued by Kerry can be like watching a baby taking its first steps.

Posted by: space [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 11, 2005 4:08 PM

Pardon me for picking at an old scab, but this is, of course, exactly what Nader was talking about when he made those Tweedledee & Tweedledum comments back in 2000. Most Dems didn't want to hear that message then, and nothing much seems to have changed in the ensuing years. Social and political rights are important, but in a dog-eat-dog, feudalistic economy they become empty promises for most of the population.

As for Kerry, after his timid, phony campaign and stab-in-the-back premature concession, why on earth does he imagine anyone is going to follow him anywhere?

Posted by: redkitty at July 12, 2005 4:17 AM

panceanic?

Posted by: John Barley at July 12, 2005 10:51 AM

Panaceanic... typoed the "a".

As in panacea, curing all problems, etc.

Posted by: Thomas Leavitt [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 12, 2005 12:07 PM

I understand very well, sometimes I wonder if I should become a Green. Today it does not matter, we are nearly powerless regardless of party affilliation.

Dean is party building from the ground up and we should all try to be a part of that because we need leaders. we need leaders who don't sell us out.

Like I said in this comment

http://www.mydd.com/comments/2005/7/10/144444/678/28#28

we need to be prepared for a few small plane crashes and to replace those that sell us out.

We need more leaders, why not work to become and/or support leadership.

We must become the multi headed hydra.

Posted by: grannyinsanity at July 12, 2005 12:12 PM

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