Normally I shy away from apocalyptic readings of the American predicament. We're a big, messy country; we've been through a lot -- perhaps even more than we thought, what with Abraham Lincoln and the vampires. We'll probably muddle through this and be very worried about something else ten years from now. But when you look at the sequence from Bush v. Gore, through Citizens United, to what seems to be coming on the health-care front; and you combine it with ongoing efforts in Florida and elsewhere to prevent voting from presumably Democratic blocs; and add that to the simply unprecedented abuse of the filibuster in the years since the Democrats won control of the Senate and then took the White House, you have what we'd identify as a kind of long-term coup if we saw it happening anywhere else.**
He expands on that last thought:
** You can try this at home. Pick a country and describe a sequence in which:
How would you describe a democracy where power was being shifted that way?
- First, the presidential election is decided by five people, who don't even try to explain their choice in normal legal terms.
- Then the beneficiary of that decision appoints the next two members of the court, who present themselves for consideration as restrained, humble figures who care only about law rather than ideology.
- Once on the bench, for life, those two actively second-guess and re-do existing law, to advance the interests of the party that appointed them.
- Meanwhile their party's representatives in the Senate abuse procedural rules to an extent never previously seen to block legislation -- and appointments, especially to the courts.
- And, when a major piece of legislation gets through, the party's majority on the Supreme Court prepares to negate it -- even though the details of the plan were originally Republican proposals and even though the party's presidential nominee endorsed these concepts only a few years ago.
I'd reply with "A democracy where one party is playing to win and the other party has gotten the crap kicked out of them for the last twelve years...and let the first party continue to beat them senseless."
Republicans are on the edge of completing a long-term plan that will give them complete control of our government at the federal and control of the governments of a large majority of the states. This control is judicial, legislative, and executive. Fallows describes the steps in the plan perfectly.
So why did we do this? Well, in the 1930s FDR did. We got 50 years of growth out of it. Then Reagan came along in 1980 and started the ball rolling the other direction. It's been three decades of growing conservative rule, and now the Republicans are pretty much a couple months away from having permanent control of our country.
We can stop them, but every time we try we go "It's too hard!" and attack the people trying to make the change. Meanwhile the other side has been gaining ground a little at a time over the last three decades because we're too busy destroying each other over not magically having a progressive country.
They've earned it. We're blown it. Now we face another milestone in our country's near permanent destruction, a milestone where a number of noted Supreme Court experts believe the ACA is legal, but openly say that this Supreme Court will strike the mandate down. When that decision comes down, the ones on "our side" who blame President Obama?
They are the reason why we're in this mess.
[UPDATE] No health care decision today, but most of Arizona’s immigration law has been invalidated (but not all of it). Sections 3, 5, and 6 of the law go bye-bye. Also, 5-4 decision that juveniles convicted of murder cannot be sentenced to life without parole. Apparently Justice Alito had to rail against that reading his dissent.
[UPDATE 2] the “papers, please” part of the law stays, 8-0, as there’s no reason apparently to overturn it on Supremacy Clause reasons. However, the decision does say that the provision can still be challenged in the future on other grounds, like, say, counting as racial profiling. Hint, hint.