Singing only sad songs is no fun

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - BY WES­LEY PRUDEN

Pol­i­tics is fun, but not when you’re los­ing. Then it hurts. When Ad­lai Steven­son lost his first race for pres­i­dent in 1952, he said it “hurts too much to laugh and I’m too old to cry.” But it didn’t hurt too much to not try again (and lose again). The cam­paign to con­firm Brett Ka­vanaugh for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court was some­thing less than a cam­paign for pres­i­dent, but it even­tu­ally felt that way. The Democrats ob­vi­ously felt like Ad­lai Steven­son did on that long-ago elec­tion night.

Some Democrats felt like cry­ing when the Se­nate con­firmed Brett Ka­vanaugh, and some of them did. Some of them are throw­ing tantrums like a 3-yearold. Some of them have taken refuge in a vow to get even, which is fair enough if they keep “get­ting even” cleaner than Chuck Schumer and Dianne Fe­in­stein did over the last days of the con­fir­ma­tion fight. A writer for Jimmy Fal­lon, the late-night tele­vi­sion en­ter­tainer, takes con­sol­ing sat­is­fac­tion in “ru­in­ing Brett Ka­vanaugh’s life.”

Charles Blow of The New York Times doesn’t like white folks much and he told his dispir­ited read­ers how to get back at them short of ter­mi­na­tion with ex­treme prej­u­dice. (That may come later if all else fails.) “Rue the day,” he said. “Rend your gar­ments. Then step back, view the en­tirety of the bat­tle in which you are en­gaged, and un­der­stand that [Jus­tice] Ka­vanaugh is just one part of a much larger plan by con­ser­va­tives to fun­da­men­tally change the po­lit­i­cal struc­ture so that it en­shrines and pro­tects white male power even af­ter Amer­ica’s chang­ing de­mo­graph­ics and mores move away from that power.” (Save your rope, boys, re­venge is on the way as soon as we make some more ba­bies and im­port some more ter­ror­ists.)

The bad guys, us­ing Pres­i­dent Trump as “just a use­ful id­iot, a tem­po­rary anom­aly,” he writes, “are think­ing gen­er­a­tionally, not in terms of the next elec­tion cy­cle but in terms of the next epoch.”

He has a point, a point shared by ev­ery se­ri­ous politi­cian, Repub­li­can, Demo­crat, In­de­pen­dent and other. Mak­ing change, and mak­ing change last, is what pol­i­tics is all about. But some Democrats have ap­par­ently con­cluded that they can’t win un­less they change the rules. Strik­ing out wouldn’t be so fre­quent if the Democrats could get four strikes and white folks only three. Then the rad­i­cals could re­ally get things done. All the levers of power are now in Repub­li­can hands. That’s un­fair and in some way that must be rec­ti­fied.

Phillip Bump, an un­happy colum­nist at The Wash­ing­ton Post, agrees. (If Bump and Blow agree, who can say against them?) Mr. Bump ob­serves that Mr. Ka­vanaugh was “an un­pop­u­lar nom­i­nee con­firmed by sen­a­tors rep­re­sent­ing less than half of the to­tal U.S. pop­u­la­tion (not to men­tion that he was nom­i­nated by a pres­i­dent who lost the pop­u­lar vote). The Se­nate these days can reach a ma­jor­ity with the votes of sen­a­tors rep­re­sent­ing 17 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion. And be­sides, most those sen­a­tors are right-handed. That should tell us some­thing.

Aaron Blake of The Wash­ing­ton Post, who has his own un­der­stand­ing of how things should work, com­plains that some states have more power than oth­ers. He dis­cov­ered that Cal­i­for­nia has more peo­ple than Wy­oming, and that raises the pos­si­bil­ity that other small states would have more to say about elect­ing pres­i­dents and con­firm­ing Supreme Court jus­tices than big states like Cal­i­for­nia and New York and Illi­nois.

“At some point,” he writes, “Democrats may need to ask them­selves why they are con­sis­tently on the short end of that set-up. Is it be­cause the sys­tem is in­her­ently bi­ased against a left-lean­ing po­lit­i­cal party? Or is it be­cause they have been out­ma­neu­vered at nearly ev­ery turn and failed to make sure they turned what has reg­u­larly been a ma­jor­ity of the votes for their side into ac­tual po­lit­i­cal power?”

Or is it that what the Democrats and the lib­er­als are selling has be­gun to smell bad af­ter all these years, and most vot­ers are not ad­dicted to stink. Say­ing the elec­tions are rigged against you may make you feel good, in a weird sort of way. But the feel­ing doesn’t last.

The Democrats and the lib­er­als were win­ning for so long that it never oc­curred to any of them that the good old days wouldn’t last for­ever. But the good old days didn’t, and now they’re as ill-tem­pered as the al­li­ga­tor the day the creek went dry.

Democrats have won many elec­tions un­der the rules ob­tain­ing, and they will one day elect pres­i­dents again who nom­i­nate men and women to the Supreme Court. The fault, the Bard said, is not in the stars, but in our­selves. That can be a painful les­son, but not learn­ing it will be most painful of all.

For­mer Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid

Wes­ley Pruden is ed­i­tor in chief emer­i­tus of The Times.


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