Demo­cratic hope­fuls are out of bounds, like Trump

The Morning Call - - TOWN SQUARE - Jonah Gold­berg

It’s ex­haust­ing be­ing both a con­ser­va­tive and a critic of Pres­i­dent Trump. When I aim my pen at the White House, many of my com­rades on the right go nuts. And read­ers who love it when I go after Trump turn into a cage full of poo-fling­ing mon­keys when I turn my at­ten­tion to the Democrats.

So let me try to head things off at the pass and say that, yes, the pres­i­dent is in­ex­cus­ably con­temp­tu­ous of con­sti­tu­tional norms and the ba­sic pro­cesses of our sys­tem. He is trans­par­ently ig­no­rant on these mat­ters, pos­sess­ing a thum­b­less grasp of ba­sic civics.

With that out of the way, I have a ques­tion: What is El­iz­a­beth War­ren’s ex­cuse? Or Ka­mala Har­ris’? Or Bernie San­ders’? Or Beto O’Rourke’s?

Take War­ren. She was a Harvard law pro­fes­sor and prizes her rep­u­ta­tion as a very se­ri­ous pol­icy wonk. And yet vast swathes of her pro­posed agenda are ei­ther il­le­gal or un­con­sti­tu­tional. For in­stance, she has vowed to im­ple­ment a to­tal ban on frack­ing once she’s elected. The only prob­lem: The pres­i­dent doesn’t have that power. Congress passed a law in 2005 giv­ing wide lat­i­tude to states to al­low frack­ing.

War­ren’s wealth tax is al­most surely un­con­sti­tu­tional. So is her plan for cre­at­ing a na­tional statu­tory right for abor­tion. As Na­tional Re­view’s David French (a for­mer Ivy League law pro­fes­sor as well) re­cently de­tailed: “Time and time again, the pat­tern is the same. She’ll push reg­u­la­tory au­thor­ity be­yond the statu­tory limit. She’ll push statu­tory au­thor­ity be­yond the con­sti­tu­tional limit. In so do­ing, she’d rep­re­sent the next stage in im­pe­rial pres­i­den­tial evo­lu­tion — reach­ing be­yond both Pres­i­dent Obama and Pres­i­dent Trump.”

But for­get about the le­gal and con­sti­tu­tional niceties and just fo­cus on the po­lit­i­cally pos­si­ble. Like Pres­i­dent Trump, most of the Demo­cratic con­tenders say they want to get rid of the leg­isla­tive fil­i­buster, mak­ing Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell a more re­spon­si­ble stew­ard of the con­sti­tu­tional or­der. And nearly all of the rad­i­cal pro­pos­als they sup­port are po­lit­i­cally im­pos­si­ble without do­ing so. But no one ex­plains how they could ac­com­plish such a re­peal.

To his credit, San­ders doesn’t want to get rid of the fil­i­buster. He just claims he could so­cial­ize medicine through the bud­get rec­on­cil­i­a­tion process. He can’t.

Then there’s math. Nearly all of the grandiose plans to so­cial­ize medicine and fight cli­mate change would re­quire mas­sive tax hikes. But War­ren, who won’t say she’ll raise taxes on the mid­dle class, in­sists that the rich can pay for it all. They can’t. You could lit­er­ally (and un­con­sti­tu­tion­ally) con­fis­cate all of the wealth of the top 1 per­cent and it wouldn’t cover the Green New Deal alone by some es­ti­mates.

A ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans are con­cerned about cli­mate change. But when the is­sue moves from virtue-sig­nal­ing to ac­tu­ally pay­ing for it, they blanch (as Aus­tralian vot­ers re­cently did). Ac­cord­ing to polls, a ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans are un­will­ing to spend more than $24 a year on elec­tric­ity to com­bat cli­mate change.

Last week, when Joe Bi­den noted, rightly, that sweep­ing gun bans by ex­ec­u­tive or­der would be un­con­sti­tu­tional, Ka­mala Har­ris replied, “I would just say, hey, Joe, in­stead of say­ing, ‘No, we can’t,’ let’s say, ‘Yes, we can.’ ” When she was done gig­gling at her own quip, she didn’t pro­vide an ar­gu­ment; she dem­a­gogued on the is­sue by point­ing to the vic­tims of gun vi­o­lence, in much the same way Pres­i­dent Trump uses the vic­tims of crim­i­nals who are in the coun­try il­le­gally to sup­port his con­sti­tu­tion­ally du­bi­ous bor­der plans.

One of the rea­sons our pol­i­tics are so ugly is that politi­cians and ac­tivists in­sist the im­pos­si­ble is not only pos­si­ble, but easy. When the in­evitable fail­ure ma­te­ri­al­izes, the same politi­cians blame it on ne­far­i­ous spe­cial in­ter­ests and a rigged sys­tem. This in turn leads not just to more cyn­i­cism but a de­sire for lead­ers who will tear down ev­ery­thing, the Con­sti­tu­tion be damned. That’s how we got Trump, and that’s how we got this ex­e­crable field of virtue-sig­nal­ing Democrats.

Tri­bune Con­tent Agency

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