This really is the ‘most important election in our lifetime,’ and Democrats need to explain why

The next two national elections will probably decide the fate of the American republic. And that means specifically whether our country continues to operate as a democracy dedicated to the preservation and expansion of human rights, or whether it descends into a quasi-fascist autocracy, seeking to limit and curtail those same rights and freedoms under the thumb of white, evangelical-oriented, right-wing minority rule. Whether one result or the other prevails will obviously depend on which party does a better job at motivating its voters to get to the polls. 

Donald Trump has made it clear that he will soon announce his 2024 candidacy. His campaign, modeled on the likes of Hungarian fascist Viktor Orban, will be premised on racism and fear of the LGBTQ population, with a heavy focus on “law and order.” Trumps intends to use the police, the military, and white supremacist groups to intimidate and suppress voters who might be disinclined to support him. Assuming Trump is not prosecuted and imprisoned by the Department of Justice for his actions relating to the Jan. 6 coup attempt, Republicans will once again fall in line behind him. (And neither Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis nor any other Trump clone wannabe will be able to mount a credible challenge to him, for whatever negligible difference in policy that might make.)

Whether President Joe Biden will run for reelection in 2024 is unknown, so there is little use speculating on the outcome of that election at this time. But Republicans have already confirmed that if they obtain control of the House of Representatives in 2022, they will immediately pursue bogus impeachment show trials and pointless, theatrical Benghazi-style “investigations” nonstop through 2024. The investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection will be shut down and there will be no further inquiry into either Trump’s wrongdoing or the enabling actions of any of their own caucus’ members.

In that event, the face of the GOP will be the current House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, but its primary movers will be the Trump-loyal faction led by the likes of Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Paul Gosar, and the plethora of other racists and “Christian” white supremacists on the Republican side. While their actual power may be limited by the (hopefully) continued Democratic control of the Senate, their role is essentially to pave the way for Trump’s reelection, not to actually pass legislation.

The corrupt conservative majority of the U.S. Supreme Court has already clearly signaled its intent to operate as an arm of Republican policy. The court will continue to do this by curtailing the power of the executive (when in Democratic hands) to work on behalf of Americans’ interests; countenancing the gerrymandering of continued white minority rule, eliminating protections previously provided in the Voting Rights Act; and, most recently, signaling its willingness to abide by the overthrow of legitimate elections when that overthrow favors the Republican Party. Fortunately the pointed and visible abandonment of its own legitimacy by that court (through its repeal of Roe v. Wade, through its arbitrary extension of access to deadly firearms, and through its hobbling of the Environmental Protection Agency, all of which were accomplished within a period of one week) has alerted millions of Americans to the fact that not only their form of government, but the way they actually want to live their lives is now in serious peril.

As noted by Josh Marshall writing for TalkingPointsMemo, three “generic ballot” polls released in the last two days have shown a remarkable upswing for Democrats since the Supreme Court’s blunt and ham-handed assertion of its political biases last June.

[T]hree new congressional generic polls have come out over the last 24 hours, two of which give the Democrats a six point advantage and one of which gives a 4 point margin. One of those 6 point margins is actually a Republican Party poll.

Various other midterm metrics continue to move slowly but perceptibly in Democrats’ direction. As we’ve discussed at various points over the last few weeks, the House especially is still very much an uphill battle for Democrats. But this trend makes me think Democrats holding the House in November is definitely possible and getting more likely. Not remotely a lost cause.

Marshall notes that the polling signifies an unusual disconnect with the electorate; despite their fairly sour feelings about inflation, the economy, and President Biden’s performance, they are apparently equating the Republican alternative to the (thus far) very unwelcome return of a Donald Trump, whose star has been substantially dimmed by the findings of the Jan. 6 investigation.

… And that’s definitely not the norm. The new Morning Consult poll suggests that the January 6th hearings are seriously souring independents on Donald Trump. And that shift is, in turn, showing up in the generic ballots numbers.

At least according to this one poll, the weight of the January 6th hearings is pushing voters to see the midterms more as a choice between Republicans and Democrats than a referendum on the President or the state of the country generally.

So Americans, despite their famous disconnect from politics (particularly during the summer months), have been paying attention. At least enough Americans to potentially make a difference in what originally looked to be an imminent Democratic wipeout in 2022, although it is still early for such predictions.

Along those lines, professor and author Mark Danner, writing for the New York Review of Books, has some sage advice for Democrats: If 2022 indeed represents the most critical election in our nation’’s history (as it seems to be by just about any objective assessment), then the Democrats need to explain that to voters, clearly and loudly.

As Danner writes in an essay appropriately titled We’re in an Emergency—Act Like It!a confluence of factors, all ultimately traceable to Donald Trump, make the coming election unique.

The 2022 election will be the first held in the shadow of an attempted coup d’étata nearly successful and still-unpunished crime against the state. It will be the first held after a Supreme Court decision that not only uprooted a half-century-old established right but that threatens the rescinding of other rights as well. And it will be the first in which it is clear that, from Republican legislators’ relentless efforts to change who counts the votes, the very character of American governance is on the ballot.

Danner acknowledges the obvious: Every recent election seems to warrant the cliche of “the most important of our lifetime.” But there is more than enough evidence, he believes, that in the case of 2022 this characterization is not hyperbole in terms of its potential impact on American lives and those of their children and grandchildren.

American voters have not confronted so grave a choice since 1860. Now as then, two dramatically different futures are on offer. By undermining the right to privacy, the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision not only allows government to force women to carry pregnancies to term—as more than half the states will likely soon do—but foreshadows a country in which a state or the federal government can deny people contraception or indeed the right to love or marry whom they choose. By limiting the regulation of firearms, the Bruen decision ensures that increasing numbers of Americans, including children in classrooms, worshipers in churches, and marchers on the Fourth of July, will die in shootings. By calling into question how votes are counted—or whether they should matter at all—the January 6 coup and the persistent “Big Lie” behind it augur a country where the candidate fewer Americans voted for not only can become president (as he did in 2000 and 2016) but can be awarded the electoral votes of a state not as the choice of its people but as a diktat of its legislature.

Danner’s point is that 2022 will be the election that either ushers in and validates a new era of Republican racist autocracy in this country or substantially slows that trend down: “If any election cried out to be nationalized—to be fought not only on the kitchen-table issues of inflation and unemployment but on the defining principles of what the country is and what it should be—it is this November’s.” His advice to Democrats is to make this point crystal clear to voters, again and again.

Danner emphasizes that this is how Democrats should be framing these midterms:

If you don’t want a government that can force you to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term—vote! If you don’t want a government that can deny you contraceptives—vote!! If you don’t want a government that can tell you with whom you can make love and whom you can marry—vote!! If you don’t want a government that will do nothing to protect your child from a troubled teenager with an assault rifle—vote!! If you don’t want a government that can ignore the people’s voice at the polling place—vote!! If you don’t want a government that will do nothing about rising temperatures and the danger they pose to all of us—vote!

But beyond this “negative framing,” Danner stresses that the Democratic Party must put itself on the line with exactly what it will do for Americans in order to turn back the Republican assault on their rights: Not only that they will do these things, but how they will do them. That involves a bold, no-nonsense—however scary for some—commitment to eliminating the filibuster with the addition of at least two Democratic senators. It also involves holding the House to continue passing legislation that is so fundamentally important it cannot morally be subject to any arcane Senate procedure designed in an era of comity that no longer exists and never will again.

And every Democratic candidate needs to repeat, over and over, whether they’re running for the House, the Senate or anything else, that when Republicans are taking away our basic rights—such as the right to be protected from mass shooters, the right to control our bodies, buy contraceptives and marry who we want—voting Democratic is the only way to stop them.

Danner wrote his essay before the surprise announcement of a deal on climate and budgetary matters between Sen. Joe Manchin, Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and the Biden administration. Assuming that deal goes forward, it will restore some of the credibility with their base the Democrats have lost due to Manchin’s (and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s) past obstruction, and that is helpful. But it is one thing to point out some modest Democratic success, and another to point to the bare fact that if Republicans take over either legislative branch the future is going to be a lot different than the one most Americans want for themselves, their children, and their country.

And yes, Americans may reject that. As a country we may go right on staring into our smartphones, willing to sacrifice our democracy while complaining mightily about the cost of a gallon of gas. That’s certainly our right. But we won’t be able to say we weren’t warned.

Liz Cheney Says She’ll Make a Decision on Running For President in 2024 ‘Down the Road’

Representative Liz Cheney, the rabid anti-Trump vice chair of the House select committee investigating the Capitol riot, says she hasn’t made a decision on running for president in 2024 but would do so “down the road.”

CNN’s Jake Tapper asked the Wyoming congresswoman if she was “willing to run for President to try and stop” former President Donald Trump.

“At this point, I have not made a decision about 2024,” Cheney replied. “I’ll make a decision on 2024 down the road.”

Cheney suggests she is more focused on her work with the select committee, something she believes is “the single most important thing I’ve ever done professionally.”

 

RELATED: Report: Never Trumpers Kinzinger, Hogan, And Cheney Could All Run Against Trump In 2024

Will Liz Cheney Run For President in 2024?

The entire segment discussing Liz Cheney’s 2024 prospects is unintentionally amusing. Sure, the dueling sad eyes battle – meant to convey just how serious they both are between Tapper and Cheney – is hilarious.

But the concept that Cheney would run for President after being ousted from her leadership position by her own party due to her antics, and now facing a huge polling deficit in the upcoming primary for Wyoming’s lone U.S. House seat in three weeks, is equally outrageous.

 

She’s about to get slaughtered at the ballot box for her congressional seat but she’ll somehow use that to catapult into the White House in 2024?

Cheney might get a handful of Democrat voters dismayed with their own party and unwilling to switch sides but it’s not going to be enough to even make a dent.

She’s been banking on that segment of the vote in Wyoming, The Political Insider has previously reported. But trailing by 22% seems to indicate it’s not nearly enough to propel her to victory.

Democrats don’t care about the anti-Trumpers – Cheney and Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) – except to create the illusion that their pursuit of the January 6 investigation is ‘bipartisan.’

Kinzinger had to learn that the hard way as well when announcing his retirement after Illinois Democrats used redrawn district lines to eliminate him from contention, despite his time serving as their puppet for the J6 committee.

 

RELATED: Cheney Must Count On Anti-Trump, Democrat Votes For Re-election After Wyoming GOP Abandons Her

Cheney’s Folks Like Her ‘Prospects’

An Associated Press report from March indicates that both Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger are sending out feelers regarding a White House run in 2024.

Kinzinger, they write, is “considering a rough timeline for a potential presidential announcement,” while associates of Cheney are “openly talking up her White House prospects.”

 

“Their goal would not necessarily be to win the presidency,” the AP added. “Above all, they want to hinder Trump’s return to the White House.”

A noble cause… in their own minds.

The Political Insider reported back in April that Cheney refused to rule out a future run for President of the United States when asked.

“I’m not ruling anything in or out — ever is a long time,” she said.

Trump, who just overwhelmingly won a straw poll conducted by the conservative student activist group Turning Point USA on who they’d like to see represent the GOP in 2024, has little to worry about should Cheney mount a campaign.

Cheney’s most prolific voices of support appear to be Democrats on the select committee, Kinzinger, and noted Republican squishes John Boehner, Paul Ryan, and George W. Bush.

The post Liz Cheney Says She’ll Make a Decision on Running For President in 2024 ‘Down the Road’ appeared first on The Political Insider.

House Democrats Push Bill to Pack Supreme Court With Four More Justices

House Democrats are making an official effort to pack four additional associate justices onto the Supreme Court, expanding the total number from 9 to 13.

Such a move would presumably give a liberal tilt to the court by a 7-6 margin.

Representative Hank Johnson (D-GA), who sponsored the bill originally introduced in April of 2021, held a press conference with several other Democrat co-sponsors on Monday.

Johnson channeled President Biden’s messaging by describing the Supreme Court as “ultra right-wing” and claiming it is “at crisis with itself and with our democracy.”

Or, in English, he means “The Court didn’t do what we wanted.”

The Georgia lawmaker, who once famously asked during a House Armed Services Committee hearing if the island of Guam might capsize if too many people were on it, added that “basic freedoms are under assault” due to the current makeup of the Supreme Court.

RELATED: Democrats To Explore Impeachment Options For Conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

Democrats Desperate to Pack the Supreme Court

Other House Democrats at the press conference pushing for legislation to pack the Supreme Court included Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ), Andy Levin (MI), Rashida Tlaib (MI), Mondaire Jones (NY), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX), Mark Takano (CA), and Jan Schakowsky (IL).

Tlaib unleashed, calling the six conservative justices “unelected” (because the other three must have been elected) and claiming they are “literally telling women they have no control over their bodies.” (They are not literally saying any such thing.)

Tlaib has denounced pro-lifers at rallies held outside the Supreme Court before, once telling those who don’t approve of abortion they “shouldn’t even want to have sex with me.”

Jones, one of the original co-sponsors of the bill, tried his hand at a Jedi mind trick, claiming the GOP had actually packed the Supreme Court as he touted the bill designed to actually pack the Supreme Court.

“The nightmare scenario of GOP court-packing is already upon us,” he told reporters. “That’s how they got this far-right 6-3 majority in the first place.”

Jones’ main beef appears to be an inability to get gun control legislation passed, something he referenced last month when threatening to do everything Democrats could to force it through.

“If the filibuster obstructs us, we will abolish it. If the Supreme Court objects, we will expand it,” Jones seethed. “And we will not rest until we have taken weapons of war out of circulation and our communities each and every day.”

RELATED: Dem Rep Jones Threatens To Abolish Filibuster, Pack The Supreme Court If Republicans Refuse To Cave On Gun Control

It Doesn’t Stop There

Currently, Johnson’s bill to pack the Supreme Court has 58 co-sponsors in the House but would likely die in the Senate where it would need 60 votes to overcome the filibuster.

Johnson made his case for urgency.

“We don’t have a generation to wait to reform the court,” he warned.

Johnson and his House colleagues have made it clear they will look at every opportunity to tilt the Supreme Court back in their favor.

Aside from simply packing the court with four justices which would magically give liberals a 7-6 advantage, Johnson, the chairman of the House Judiciary courts subcommittee, held a meeting that “discusses Congress’s impeachment authority” as a means to regulate “the conduct of Supreme Court justices.”

The aim of that meeting was to discuss the possibility of impeaching Clarence Thomas, the most conservative Justice currently serving on the Supreme Court.

A recent poll shows overwhelming opposition to packing the Supreme Court – 65% of respondents in a recent poll were opposed to the idea and only 26% were in favor.

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The post House Democrats Push Bill to Pack Supreme Court With Four More Justices appeared first on The Political Insider.

Take heart: Democrats will beat expectations this November

Remember when there was no way Democrats could win two Senate seats in Georgia to take control of the upper chamber? Remember when Ukrainian forces were going to crumble under Russia's elite military onslaught in a matter of days?

Things don't always go the way Washington analysts project they will, and it's going to take some time to talk ourselves down from the steady red-wave drumbeat we’ve endured for the last six months. But let's take a stab at it, shall we?

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Democrats—voters and lawmakers—have at least a handful of reasons (if not more) for some guarded optimism as we barrel toward November.

1) As halting as the White House response to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade has been, President Joe Biden has started to step up. His support for a Senate filibuster carve out on abortion along with his pledge to immediately sign a bill codifying Roe into federal law once it hits his desk are the makings of an electoral rallying cry.

"We need two additional pro-choice senators and a pro-choice House to codify Roe as federal law. Your vote can make that a reality," Biden said Friday at the White House as he vehemently denounced the Supreme Court ruling.

“We cannot allow an out-of-control Supreme Court, working in conjunction with extremist elements of the Republican Party, to take away freedoms and our personal autonomy,” he said.

The president also framed the high court as a political entity acting outside of its rightful legal domain, teeing up the possibility that he could at some point take on court reform as an issue.

"What we’re witnessing wasn’t a constitutional judgment. It was an exercise in raw political power," Biden charged.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Biden gave a great speech on Friday, channeling activists' rage, pledging to codify Roe, promising to veto any GOP-passed federal abortion ban, encouraging Americans to register their rage at the polls this fall, and being specific about needing at least two more pro-choice senators and a pro-choice House in order to pass federal abortion protections.

Biden hasn't delivered everything abortion activists want, but that's certainly enough to work for a midterm message.

2) House Democrats have keyed in on the only viable path for them to blunt losses this fall and just maybe salvage their majority: boldly attacking extremist GOP candidates.

Retiring Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky summed up the strategy best: “If we win, it’s because we scared the crap out of people about the maniacs who will be in charge.”

Democrats aggressively pounding extremist Republicans who are pushing a national abortion ban, clinging to 2020 election fraud conspiracy theories, and backing Jan. 6 rioters as patriotic protesters exercising First Amendment rights are the best plays Democrats have. They’re both base motivators and appeals to the few sane Republicans and swingy abortion supporters who still exist.

Political strategists vary between predicting the midterms will either primarily be driven by economic dissatisfaction or anger over the Supreme Court's gutting of abortion protections and other privacy rights down the road.

But in a telephone briefing last week, Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg predicted November would mainly be another matchup between the MAGA movement and the anti-MAGA majority that has carried the day in the last two elections.

Running toward Donald Trump after his 2020 loss and failed January coup attempt "was always an enormous political risk," Rosenberg said of the GOP, adding that Republicans haven't done anything in the interim to sway swing voters.

3) The generic ballot has moved several points in the direction of Democrats since the Supreme Court overturned Roe.

CNN's Harry Enten has counted eight different polls in which Democrats gained ground in a generic matchup since the Dobbs ruling.

"The average shift was about 3 points in Democrats’ favor," Enten writes. "This 3-point change may not seem like a lot, and it could reverse itself as we get further away from the ruling. Still, it puts Democrats in their best position on the generic ballot in the last six months."

4) Trump falling, DeSantis rising—that about sums up a dynamic that could increasingly begin to take center stage amid jockeying for position in the 2024 GOP presidential contest. While Trump is arguably still the most popular person within the Republican Party, even his voters have begun to sour on the idea of him making another run for the GOP nomination. And as Trump’s star begins to fall, DeSantis is increasingly gaining steam.

Democrats can only hope Trump does something impulsive, like make a surprise candidacy announcement before November as he feels the Jan. 6 panel (and maybe even the Justice Department) increasingly breathing down his neck. He would lose a ton of fundraising flexibility by announcing early, but hey, once you’ve orchestrated a coup to overthrow your own government, all bets are off.

But even if he doesn't, Trump is wounded—perhaps not fatally, but wounded nonetheless. Republicans and even the MAGA faithful are beginning to debate and sometimes doubt whether he should run again in 2024. That tinge of uncertainty could lead to fissures ahead of a midterm where Republicans had hoped their base would be singularly focused on inflation and rage against President Biden.

5) The Jan. 6 hearings are the best political thriller going. Forget House of Cards—that was kid stuff compared to this coup-dunit mystery unfolding in real time on screens across the country. Did the president of the United States really intend to get his vice president killed? Did he plan to personally do it himself, or did he just envision ordering his troop of ragtag domestic terrorists to hang Pence from the gallows? Who's going to tell us, who's talking, who isn't, and who's going to end up in jail?  

Every hearing seems to get more riveting and exponentially worse for Trump, his demented braintrust, and the GOP lawmakers who helped plot the attempted overthrow of the republic. Several headlines last month suggested not many people were watching the hearings in real time, but that’s not the measure of whether the hearings are breaking through. The progressive consortium Navigator Research released a poll Monday showing that 64% of Americans report having seen, read, or heard about the hearings (28% heard “a lot” while 36% reported hearing “some”)—perfectly consistent with the 63% who said they had heard some or a lot about last month's hearings. So interest hasn’t trailed off one bit.

So regardless of whether Trump announces a presidential bid before November, the Jan. 6 hearings are reminding all the people who voted against him in 2020 (more than 81 million Americans) exactly why they voted him out of office. And for Trumpers, the hearings are just making him look weak, out of control, and powerless. Unlike both of his impeachment proceedings, Trump doesn't have an entourage of talking heads defending him because the usual suspects are either ducking subpoenas or dodging cameras. So Trump's out there just dangling with an occasional statement on his spectacularly flailing Truth(er) Social, but that's about it.

Again, this isn't what Republicans were hoping for several months out from Election Day—a series of ongoing public hearings that they are powerless to stop and have no earthly idea of what will be uncovered.

All of these factors along with the GOP's field of D-list candidates should give Democrats fuel to fight another day. Just like every other election since 2016, this year's midterms will likely yield unprecedented results to match the unprecedented times in which we live.

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Any Institution The Left Doesn’t Control They Seek To Destroy

By Jarrett Stepman for The Daily Signal

From overturning Roe v. Wade to supporting the Second Amendment and maintaining religious liberty, the Supreme Court’s recent decisions have put the left in a sour mood.

The left certainly hasn’t taken the news well.

Despite the left’s obsession with the notion that the right is all about “undermining democracy,” the left has shown little trepidation in demanding we lay waste to republican institutions that stand in opposition to its agenda.

Pleas for “court packing” from Democrats have been building for a while. Undoubtedly, those calls will become louder now, despite caution from the Biden administration. The latter hasn’t stopped plenty of prominent Democrats from acceding to the calls of activists to “burn it down”—figuratively and perhaps even literally. 

They’ve both demanded court-packing with liberal justices and called into question the Supreme Court’s legitimacy.

RELATED: Justice Alito’s Opinion Doesn’t Just Overturn Roe v. Wade, It Shreds It to Pieces

It’s become a full-blown tantrum from people used to getting their way.

“This court has lost legitimacy. They have burned whatever legitimacy they may still have had after their gun decision, after their voting decision, after their union decision,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., on ABC’s “This Week.”

“They just took the last of it and set a torch to it,” Warren said. “I believe we need to get some confidence back in our court, and that means we need more justices on the United States Supreme Court.”

Following the Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, D-N.Y., marched with protesters in front of the Supreme Court and joined in chants of “illegitimate.”

She later said that “impeachment” was on the table for Supreme Court justices, who she insinuated had lied under oath at their Senate confirmation hearings. As Tim Carney wrote in the Washington Examiner, the idea that Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh, and Neil Gorsuch promised to uphold Roe v. Wade is completely false.

Not to be outdone, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., went off the deep end in front of the Supreme Court. “Women are going to control their bodies, no matter how they try and stop us,” Waters said. “The hell with the Supreme Court. We will defy them.”

It appears that, for the left, liberalism is the standard by which something has “legitimacy.” Any institution they don’t immediately control they seek to destroy.

RELATED: AOC Wants ‘Consequences’ For Supreme Court Justices, Impeachment For Clarence Thomas

Part of this might be fueled by their typically overwhelming institutional control, which until very recently included the Supreme Court. For half a century, the court had delivered wins for the left on numerous policy and cultural issues, even when those issues weren’t popular—or in the case of Roe v. Wade and other decisions, weren’t based on particularly sound legal reasoning.

The court could be relied upon to be the left’s sort of deus ex machina, as liberal Bloomberg columnist Noah Smith admitted.

Now, there’s certainly a case to be made that the American political system has become too reliant on courts, rather than on the democratic process, to resolve divisive legal and moral issues. That was one of the problems with Roe v. Wade. By effectively declaring that having an abortion is a “right,” the issue was taken off the table for Americans.

That issue is now going back to the American people and their local elected officials. And that’s really where it should be decided. 

Again, it’s really something to hear the left rage against unelected judges “imposing” their ideas on the country. That’s effectively what Roe v. Wade did, except without supportive language in the Constitution, like the clear text of the Second Amendment, which the justices relied on in their ruling against a New York gun law the day before they overturned Roe. 

When conservatives faced significant legal setbacks in past decades, they didn’t attempt to blow up the court or pack it with additional justices to get their way. Instead, the right worked hard to build a serious institutional and legal infrastructure in opposition, with the Federalist Society being perhaps the most noteworthy example.

With the election of President Donald Trump—who appointed three Supreme Court justices—that generational work came to fruition.

The right worked within the system to create serious and lasting change. Liberals of this generation, it seems, failed the marshmallow experiment on delayed gratification.

RELATED: Progressives Want ‘Term Limits’ For Supreme Court Justices

The left certainly didn’t learn anything from then-Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev. The then-Senate majority leader used the “nuclear option” to end the Republicans’ Senate filibuster of judicial nominations in 2013, which cleared the way for Trump and Senate Republicans later getting three justices on the Supreme Court.

Oops.

It’s perhaps a lesson for conservatives today.

 If we really want to overcome the great “awokening,” we need to consider long-term plans to recapture institutions or build new ones in opposition. It’s not enough to just attack them. Short-term victory without a longer-term strategy can easily backfire.

Syndicated with permission from The Daily Signal.

The post Any Institution The Left Doesn’t Control They Seek To Destroy appeared first on The Political Insider.

The Downballot: Why Wisconsin is so dang important, with Ben Wikler (transcript)

No state regularly hosts as many hotly contested elections as Wisconsin, which is why we're talking to state Democratic Party chair Ben Wikler about all of this year's key races on this week's episode of The Downballot. He tells us about everything his organization does to ensure year-round investment in Democratic infrastructure; details the state of play in the battle to defeat Sen. Ron Johnson and re-elect Gov. Tony Evers; and previews a critical race for the state Supreme Court next year that could flip control from conservatives to progressives.

Co-hosts David Nir and David Beard also recap several recent elections, including Sarah Palin's first-place finish in the special primary for Alaska's lone House seat, the defeat of a pro-impeachment Republican congressman in South Carolina, and a special election where the GOP picked up a Democratic-held House seat in heavily Latino south Texas.

Please subscribe to The Downballot on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.

This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

David Beard:

Hello and welcome. I'm David Beard, Contributing Editor for Daily Kos Elections.

David Nir:

And I'm David Nir, Political Director of Daily Kos. The Downballot is a weekly podcast dedicated to the many elections that take place below the presidency, from Senate to city council. You can email us your thoughts at thedownballot@dailykos.com or find us on Twitter @DKElections.

David Beard:

And please subscribe to The Downballot wherever you listen to podcasts and leave us a five-star rating and review. But let's go ahead and get to today's episode. What are we going to be covering, Nir?

David Nir:

We have a bunch of elections to recap. There was a special election for a congressional seat in Texas. There were primaries in South Carolina that saw one pro-impeachment Republican go down to defeat and there was also an unusual Saturday special election in Alaska for the seat that had been held for decades by the late Republican Congressman Don Young so we'll be talking about all of that.

David Nir:

After we recap those weekly hits, we are going to be discussing Wisconsin with the chair of the State Democratic Party, Ben Wikler, who will tell us exactly what a state party like his does and the key races that they're focusing on this November, so please stick with us.

David Nir:

Primary season continues apace but we also had an election on Saturday. We'll get to that one in a minute, but Beard, why don't you kick us off with the top goings on from Tuesday night?

David Beard:

Sure. So we're going to start in Texas where there was a special election held to fill the remaining term for democratic representative Filemon Vela who resigned earlier this year to take a job at a lobbying firm. Conservative activists, Mayra Flores flipped this Rio Grande Valley-based district to the GOP. She won about 51% of the vote. There were four candidates on the ballot but just one major Republican and one major Democrat and then two very minor, one Democrat and one Republican who took a very small percentage of the vote each. And so, Flores won 51% of the vote, the major democratic candidate, former Cameron County commissioner, Dan Sanchez, won about 43% of the vote.

David Beard:

Now, there's a couple of mitigating factors here. Republicans spent over a million dollars on this race. They really invested. Democrats only began airing TV ads in the final week. They didn't spend very much money. This district is changing a significant amount. Biden won the current district which is still from the 2010 redistricting cycle by a 52-48 margin but Biden wins the new district that will go into effect this November by a 57-42 margin so it's getting noticeably more Democratic. And so, there wasn't a ton of investment in trying to hold this seat on the Democratic side.

David Beard:

That being said, that's definitely a shift in the margin from 52-48 Biden to, if you combine the Democrats and the Republicans, about 53% voted Republican and 47% voted Democrat so that's a noticeable shift. It's certainly in line with a more Republican-leaning year which is what we've been seeing with the polling and with other information that's been coming in. The other factor here that's certainly worth noting is that it was very, very low turnout so that can also be a factor in why there was somewhat of a shift. So you don't want to take this and just say, "Oh, we saw this shift. It'll translate all the way to November in every way," but it's certainly a signal worth acknowledging that it is certainly a sign of a Republican leaning environment right now.

David Nir:

The other thing to note is that had Flores not gotten a majority of the vote, the race would've gone to a runoff and Sanchez was actually quite angry at the democratic establishment and the DCCC in particular for coming in so late. It does seem that with a little bit more effort, Flores could have been held under the 50% mark and maybe Democrats would have lost in a second round but you'd certainly always rather have the chance to fight another day.

David Beard:

Yeah, I think the thinking of the Democrats is even if it's only going to be around for six months, it's still worth fighting for... Flores has only won 51% of the vote. You would think that a real investment here had the Democratic Party done that from the start, when the Republicans started investing, there was a good chance she could have been held under that and it would've gone to a runoff. And then, who knows? You never know with 100% certainty how an election's going to turn out.

David Nir:

So we'll switch gears to a couple of primaries in South Carolina that have been framed as Trump's revenge and he did, in fact, exact revenge against a Republican Congressman in the 7th district, Tom Rice, who was one of the ten who voted for impeachment. Rice got completely obliterated by State Rep, Russell Fry, who beat him 51-25. What was even more remarkable about this is there were five Republicans total challenging Rice so for Fry to get a majority of the vote was pretty unexpected. Even Fry claimed that his own polling showed the race going to a runoff.

David Nir:

Really though, this whole outcome feels pretty predictable. The 7th District which is in the Pee Dee region in the state's northeastern corner was actually Trump's best district in the 2016 GOP Presidential Primary and the seat really barely changed at all in redistricting. What I think matters most here is what this says for the remaining pro-impeachment House Republicans who still have primaries yet to come. Of the ten, four decided to retire. Rice is the first to actually lose and there is still one, David Valadao, on California whose primary hasn't been resolved yet. He probably will survive and then four more after that.

David Nir:

I think the two who are probably going to be at most risk right now are Peter Meijer in Michigan's 3rd Congressional District. And of course, Liz Cheney, where we've seen multiple polls now showing her getting completely obliterated. Rice, kind of an enigma. He was always a very low-key, extremely conservative guy, but he just felt that, Jan 6th, really, he had had enough. In remarks a few weeks ago before the primary, he even referred to Trump as a dictator and he seemed completely dispirited about the direction of the Republican party. He said that Trump just wants the entire GOP to be yes men and his diagnosis is exactly right, of course. Really, there's absolutely nothing to feel about this outcome except being deeply depressed at the state of the GOP going even further toward cult status.

David Beard:

I think what we can see, particularly as it looks like, as you mentioned, Cheney and Meijer are probably in very tough shape given this election result. That the only real protection for a Republican running after having voted to impeach Trump is to be in a state like California or Washington state where they do a top two primary so that they can outpace that person with other votes, potentially Democratic and independent votes, and don't have to face them in a Republican electorate. That's where the three, you mentioned Valadao and there's two in Washington state, who have a good shot to move onto the general election and honestly, at this point, I would be surprised if any of the other ones did.

David Nir:

The other South Carolina race that was really closely watched last night, I think, reinforces this as well. This is the 1st District where representative Nancy Mace beat former State Representative, Katie Arrington, 53-45 so she won without a runoff. Trump also despised Mason. He endorsed Arrington. Trump was pissed at Mace because right after Jan. 6, she made a few comments that were critical of him. But unlike Tom Rice who really stuck to his guns the whole way through, she very, very quickly backed off. She did not vote for impeachment and a number of press accounts refer to her as a Trump critic; that's complete bullshit.

David Nir:

A few months ago, Nancy Mace did one of the most humiliating things we have seen in an era when Republican politicians regularly humiliate themselves. The day after Trump endorsed Arrington, Mace went up to New York City, 800 miles away from her district, and filmed a video, it looked like it was filmed on a cellphone, of her in front of Trump Tower pledging her loyalty to Donald Trump. It was just super, super cringey, it was totally gross, and it totally worked for her. She really spent much of the race trying to prove her Trump-y bona fides. She also laid some effective attacks on Arrington who was responsible for this seat flipping to the Democrats in 2018. Mace picked it up for the Republicans again in 2020.

David Nir:

But really, the only lesson here is maybe you can get back in the graces of enough Trump-y voters, even if you can't win Trump back himself, simply by licking his boots. Man, if anything, not that Donald Trump is clever enough to see it this way, but winning back a one-time mild critic is almost more powerful because it just shows your absolute dominance. He was never going to get Rice back but now he's brought Mace back to heel, he can obviously do it with anyone else who even has dared utter any negative comments about him in recent years. So again, I think a truly dismaying outcome.

David Beard:

Yeah. That reminds me of the Ohio Senate Primary actually, where Trump ended up endorsing Vance and the talking point going around was that Trump actually likes when formerly Trump-critical Republicans come crawling back and go over the top to prove themselves loyal to Trump like Mace has done. So while his candidate didn't win, I don't think he'll be too upset about the outcome given how Mace has acted.

David Beard:

Our last election that we're going to cover in the Weekly Hits is the election that took place on Saturday. It was the special election for Alaska's at-large congressional seat that's taking place due to representative Don Young passing away earlier this year.

Alaska has a different electoral system. All of the candidates were in the ballot in this first round and the top four candidates will advance to a second round on August 16th. That ballot will use ranked choice voting to determine the winner which means that anybody who votes can rank the four candidates, 1, 2, 3, 4, and then the fourth place candidate from those results will get eliminated and if you had voted for that candidate, first, the candidate that you voted for second will then get your vote.

The same thing would happen with the third place candidate after those votes were reallocated. And then you would only have two candidates remaining. And the person then with the majority of those two candidates would be the person elected. Ballots are still being counted, but the AP has declared three of the four candidates who are going to advance to the second round, the first being former governor Sarah Palin, who has a clear lead so far with about 30% of the vote.

David Beard:

Of course, Palin is a Republican, as is the so far second-place candidate, businessman Nick Begich, who has about 19% of the vote. And then independent Al Gross, who is also the former 2020 Democratic nominee for Senate, but is running now as an Independent; he's also been called to advance. He has about 13% of the vote so far. And then, the fourth slot hasn't been called yet, but former Democratic state representative Mary Peltola is currently in that spot and will likely advance as well, unless late-breaking ballots are radically different than what's been counted so far.

David Beard:

Palin's strong first-round showing, getting over 30% of the vote, makes it likely that she'll be one of the last two candidates standing when this ranked-choice voting takes place. So, the big question is who's going to make it into that other slot where the fourth place candidate and then the third place candidate are eliminated?

David Beard:

If Begich advances, he's probably favored to consolidate the anti-Palin vote, as he's a fellow Republican but would probably collect the overwhelming number of independent and Democratic votes. But if either Al Gross or Peltola advance, then Palin would probably be the favorite as the only Republican of the two candidates when the ranked-choice voting takes place. But that's not certain. I don't want to say that one of the other two candidates couldn't beat Palin in that last two candidates portion, but we'll have to wait and see. I think Palin would be the favorite in that circumstance.

David Nir:

Palin was always a polarizing figure, but she has Donald Trump's endorsement, which makes it much more likely that Begich would pick up those Independents and Democrats, as you were suggesting, if it is those two facing off against each other at the very end of the instant runoff tabulations. One other thing we should note is that the second round, which you said is taking place on August 16th, that is also the day of the state's regular primary. And there is, once again, going to be a huge ballot of candidates seeking this position for a full term.

Usually, when you have these simultaneous elections, you see the same sets of candidates advance. But because things are so unusual, this is the first time any state anywhere has ever used this top-four system, we could wind up with a different group of four candidates who advance to the November general election, which again, will also be decided by an instant runoff. So, if for no other reason, just watching this unique electoral system unfold, it's going to be worth watching both of these races, the special and the regular election.

David Beard:

And incumbency in Alaska is so important, as we've seen. So, it'll be interesting to see, in that primary vote, they won't know who the incumbent is. So similar to this one, it'll be a free-for-all. As we saw, so many candidates ran in this first round.

David Nir:

Well, that wraps up our weekly hits. We are going to be talking, after the break, with the chair of the Wisconsin Democratic party, Ben Wikler, about all of the fascinating races that his state has in store for us this year. So, please stay with us after the break.

Every year, it seems that Wisconsin tops the list of states with incredibly important and incredibly competitive elections. That was certainly true in 2018, in 2020. And it's going to be true again this November, in 2022.

We have joining us today, on The Downballot, the chair of the Wisconsin Democratic party, Ben Wikler, to tell us everything that is going on in his state this year. Ben, thank you so much for joining us.

Ben Wikler:

Thanks so much Nir. Thanks so much Beard. It's great to be with the Davids.

David Nir:

Ben, you haven't exactly had what might be called a typical path to becoming chair of your state party. I would love it if you could tell our listeners a little bit about yourself and how it is you came to run the Wisconsin Dems.

Ben Wikler:

Sure. In the short-term, Wisconsin has a elected state party chair. You're elected by conventions to our state party convention. That happened with me in June of 2019. But if you go back in time, I grew up in Madison. I actually live in the house that I grew up in. I bought it from my mom who now lives four blocks away. And my wife, Beth, and I have three young kids. So, we have lots of helpful grandparent time, which is great.

Ben Wikler:

I got involved in politics a lot as a kid. And my godmother, a woman named Ada Deer, ran for Congress when I was 11 and became the first American Indian woman to win a congressional primary. So, knocking on doors for her and stuffing envelopes, putting up yard signs was kind of my entree into volunteering for campaigns.

I got to volunteer for a then state Representative who ran for Congress, named Tammy Baldwin, who's now well-known as our fantastic U.S. Senator. Worked on the governor's race. I also got very involved in activism and in comedy writing because The Onion was based in Madison. And so, my friends and I were obsessed with it. And we wrote for first, an underground student newspaper in middle school, another one in high school. And then eventually, we kept sending every issue to The Onion HQ. And eventually they wrote back and invited us to come in.

So, my friend, Peter Koechley and I, who went on to help launch Upworthy, started writing Onion headlines when we were seniors in high school. And that path led to, in college, I got very involved in activism and interned for Russ Feingold then, as a college student. I met my wife putting up posters for a protest together and fell in love with her.

And then, my senior year in college, I met a comedian who was increasingly involved in politics, named Al Franken. And my background with The Onion and doing political stuff, led him to hire me to work with him on the book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. And I worked at Air America Radio as one of the producers on his radio show. And that was kind of my entree to the national progressive movement.

That's where I first met Markos Moulitsas and people involved in Daily Kos and tons of folks. There was a Harvard professor that we would book on the show to talk about bankruptcy and the way that tax laws worked, named Elizabeth Warren. There were all these fascinating people who came through and were on the show.

When Al Franken moved to Minnesota, I moved to Ohio and worked for Sherrod Brown for Senate race and then worked for different advocacy and organizing organizations for a bunch of years until I was at MoveOn as the DC director in 2013 through, I guess, '18. And was involved, first in trying to stop Trump from getting power, and then in trying to organize the huge pushback to stop the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and the gutting of Medicaid. I got to work with disability rights activists and so many people who were mobilizing all across the country.

During all this time, I had dreamed of eventually raising my family in Wisconsin. And my wife had heard me singing Wisconsin's praises from our first date on. In 2018, after our third child arrived, we decided to move back. And I volunteered a whole bunch for the Evers campaign and for Baldwin's reelection campaign at that point. And then, when we had actually landed in Wisconsin, the then state party chair decided not to run for a third term. So, I threw my hat in the ring and wound up crisscrossing the state, going to county party meetings, talking to all these people; learning everything I could about all the things we needed to do to win and was elected that June. And it has been a nonstop rollercoaster ever since, for the last three years. I was reelected in 2021.

David Nir:

Let's talk a little bit about what that rollercoaster ride has been like. I'm sure that some of our listeners are probably pretty plugged into their own state Democratic parties. But I'll bet that many folks aren't necessarily all that familiar with what their state parties do. And of course, the goal of any party organization is to get their candidates elected. But what exactly does the Wisconsin Democratic party do to make that happen?

Ben Wikler:

The biggest part of our budget and the crown jewel, the central thing that we do, on a year-round basis, is organize in every corner of the state. Our state party unusually uses the Obama campaign model, where our organizers actually build teams of volunteers that run door-to-door canvasing and phone banking operations in their own communities. And when you do that on a continuous basis, as we've done now since my predecessor, who launched these neighborhood teams in the spring of 2017, and we've built and built and built them; we now have hundreds across the state. When you do that continuously, you actually build momentum over time. So, every dollar you spend on organizing goes further, because you can have one organizer who's working with multiple teams to coach and support them and make sure they have the data they need. But you don't have to have a staff member at every canvas launch location.

Ben Wikler:

You can have teams running door-to-door canvases from their living rooms and from coffee shops around the state. So, that is one huge part. But it's now so much more than that as well.

We have a communications team that is doing everything we can to make sure folks know how terrible Ron Johnson is and how terrible the other Republicans running for governor and Congress and state legislature are. We have a voter protection operation that works, now, on a year-round basis. It didn't used to be year-round. But something we've really focused on over these last few years that works to make sure that local clerks aren't rolling back voting rights, that we're recruiting and supporting poll workers, poll observers; lawyers who are able to help voters resolve issues.

We run a voter protection hotline that any of our listeners who happen to be in Wisconsin can call. It's 608-DEM-3232. We have a data team that helps make sure we're figuring out where the voters we need to mobilize are and who we need to persuade.

Ben Wikler:

We have a political team that includes the staff that just make sure the party operates, in terms of supporting our county parties and congressional district parties, in youth caucuses; our state administrative committee, which is my boss. It's our statewide board. And organizes our state party convention. Every state party does one of these every year. Ours is coming up later this month, the 25th and the 26th of June in La Crosse, Wisconsin. It's going to be amazing.

Ben Wikler:

There's a coalitions team, which is also a year-round team that specializes in working with building the coalitions partnerships with Black and Latino, Asian American, Pacific Islander; Wisconsinites with tribal nations, sovereign nations across Wisconsin; with rural Wisconsinites, with LGBTQ Wisconsinites, to make sure that our big tent party includes and lifts up everybody.

Ben Wikler:

We have a candidate services team that, this spring, worked with hundreds of local candidates running for offices like school board and city council to make sure that they were able to run digital ads, to be able to send mailings to their constituents and to connect with our field organizers to make sure that we were knocking on doors and supporting folks running for those offices.

They'll be back at it this fall with state legislative races and other races. And all of this is supported by our finance and HR and operations teams that do all the kind of back-end work that makes an organization go. So there's a whole bunch of people, but the big idea here is candidates should have to be great at being candidates, but they shouldn't also have to be great at figuring out how to stand up an organizing program or doing things that really shouldn't just be starting when the general election begins. There were days in the past in Wisconsin, where if someone wanted to run for Senate, they would have to find a statewide organizing director and fill in all the levels of that organizing program.

 

Sometimes in just a few months at the end. In 2016, Hillary Clinton's team hired their first staff in Wisconsin that August and had no time at all to try to figure out who should be talking to whom. The party can take care of all that. If you have a well funded well run organization, it's like a permanent piece of campaign infrastructure. And then the candidates can just focus on things that only a candidate can do. All of our candidates across Wisconsin now with the democratic party trust and work with our coordinated campaign. So that when we knock on doors, we talk about everyone running up and down the ballot. And that means that people who might not run for office otherwise can do so. It's almost like a form of public financing where people know that they won't need to raise the money for those pieces of the work because the party can take care of that. And that's allowed us to welcome just an extraordinary group of folks running for office holding office.

Ben Wikler:

Now, it's one reason why we have these contested primaries for a bunch of the statewide offices in November, because folks know that they don't need to do every piece. They just need to focus in on the being a candidate part of being a candidate.

David Beard:

Yeah. I've often heard it described as running a campaign as like building a small business, except you do it in the course of six to nine months, maybe a year. And you build it with the entire idea of going to election day and then sort of all that throwing away that small business that you spend all this time creating. But of course, a state party like yours can do so much of the infrastructure work that makes that so much more feasible for so many more people.

Ben Wikler:

That's exactly right. And it's so, I mean, from a business perspective, it is so dumb to do all this work and all this research and all this hiring, and then lay everybody off. Like it just doesn't make any sense.

David Beard:

Amen.

Ben Wikler:

By having organizers on the ground year, over year, over year, you it's like a flywheel. It's like it keeps on spinning faster and faster. So we had more volunteer shifts this spring than we had in the spring of 2021 and more in 2021 than we had in 2020 when we had a much bigger staff because we have kept these neighborhood teams going. And so the kind of the impact of supporting a state party actually grows each time because you get all these things established and you don't have to start from scratch every time there's a new race on the horizon.

David Beard:

So let's dive into the upcoming Wisconsin elections this November, which has two extremely important races at the top of the ticket. You've already mentioned governor Evers and Senator Johnson. Johnson is one of the worst senators in the country. He regularly makes odious statements and claims. A lot of people outside of Wisconsin, I'm sure have heard about him and heard not good things about him. But tell us how that race is shaping up and the race against him on the Democratic side.

Ben Wikler:

Ron Johnson is so, so appallingly extraordinarily bad. He is... It's not just that he says that COVID can be cured with mouthwash or says that the January 6th insurrectionists where patriots, who love their country and love law enforcement, which is something he actually said. He said he would've been scared if it had been Black Lives Matter protestors, but he wasn't scared with the protestors that were actually there. It's not just all that stuff. It's that he's profoundly self-serving. His claim to fame as a Senator is that he insisted on an extra tax break on top of Trump's giant tax scam that personally benefited him and his biggest donor massively. It's one of the most regressive tax cuts ever passed through the United States Congress that he insisted on putting in, and that he's been billing taxpayers to fly him back to Congress from his vacation home in Florida.

Ben Wikler:

So we've been making this case against him. And so many independent and grassroots organizations have done the same thing. His approval rating is now 36%, which is stunning in a year that's supposed to be tough for Democrats and good for Republicans. The Political Report called him the most vulnerable incumbent from either party in the Senate in 2022. And meanwhile, on the democratic side, there's a contested primary. There's a bunch of candidates who've made the ballot, but we won't know our nominee until August 9th. And so this is a perfect kind of case in point for why having a strong party matters, because we have to build the whole general election apparatus before August 9th. It's like building a spaceship right on the launchpad. And then once we have the nominee, they jump into the cockpit and they hit ignition.

We do not want to do the ‘building the plane as you fly’ metaphor that people often use because that is not sound aviation safety practice. You want to actually have the thing built before there's a pilot. So that's the work that we're doing. But I think we really have a shot because he's just so repellent to so many voters. And it's not just that people don't want to vote for him, it's that the chance to vote against him will cause more people to vote.

He's a negative voter turnout machine for our side and we're going to do everything we can to make sure folks know just how bad he is and that they have the power to oust him, that it is worth getting up off the couch and going in or better yet casting an absentee ballot. So we know you voted in advance. Those things can make the difference, not just to defeat him. But also we hope to expand the democratic majority in the Senate and give us a chance to actually pass into law so many of the things Democrats are fighting for.

David Beard:

And we've seen negative partisanship be a real motivating factor. Most prominently at the presidential level, of course. But when you've got a Senator like Johnson, who's so prominent and has so many negative feelings rightfully created among so many Wisconsin citizens. Like that's a motivating factor for them, for sure.

Ben Wikler:

Absolutely. And I talked to folks, I mean, I will say some of our fundraising success this year has come because people want to make sure that Ron Johnson does not win and certainly there's volunteer shifts. It reminds me a lot of the campaign against Scott Walker in 2018 where people saw that he was vulnerable, saw that he was terrible, tons of candidates ran. And in that election, everyone came together around the nominee and we were able to prevail. I think, we're looking for a similar path in the Senate race and I think we have a very, very good chance of ending Ron Johnson's political career this November.

David Nir:

Can you tell us a little bit more about this spaceship that you're building on the launchpad for the eventual Democratic nominee for the Senate race?

Ben Wikler:

Absolutely. So it's all the pieces of the party that I spoke about; the digital, the data, the organizing, the voter protection, the communications, all these different elements. Specifically, in some cases with staff just focused on Ron Johnson and the Senate race. And then with each of the Senate campaigns, we want to make sure that they know that we're doing all these different pieces and understand what they anticipate their needs will be.

So whoever the nominee is, and I should mention our state party because of our state party constitution, we are bound and committed to remaining neutral in the primary. So we're not putting our thumb on the scale, but all the candidates have told us that once we have a nominee, they will work with the infrastructure that we've put in place. As opposed to doing what has often happened in different states around the country, which is you get a Senator nominee and they decide they want to reshuffle all the staff and reshape how the program works and all this kind of stuff.

Ben Wikler:

This is the same strategy we used for the presidential in 2020. We built a presidential scale campaign through the state party. We kept briefing all the candidates in the primary about it. And then eventually we had a nominee and the nominee just adopted our operation wholesale and added their in-state staff to do the things that the nominee needed. But the organizing whole structure, all these different pieces were held and carried forward. And that meant that we were the relationships we built, the trust we'd built, all that kind of stuff was actually preserved and accelerated as opposed to being broken down and then attempted to... There was no Humpty Dumpty situation with a fall and then a reassembly.

David Nir:

So in the race for governor, you almost have the inverse situation where we know who the democratic nominee is going to be. Of course, that's going to be governor Evers, but Republicans are in the midst of a really nasty primary that I don't think has gone, maybe exactly as at least some folks might have expected. So can you fill us in on who the major players are there and what you see happening and the final outcome being there?

Ben Wikler:

 I will say that we went to the Republican state party convention a few weeks ago and had a mobile billboard with an image, an animation of a dumpster fire and held the press conference in front of the dumpster fire mobile billboard. Because that is what the Republican gubernatorial primary is. This is a group of extremist candidates that keep on leapfrogging each other into the most radical fringes of the right wing fever swamps.

Rebecca Kleefisch was the first to announce. She was Scott Walker's Lieutenant governor. If you go to radicalrebecca.com, you can find out more about her. She is someone who just keeps like kind of lurching and grabbing to the right. I'll just give one example. Wisconsin has an 1849 ban on abortion. This is pre-Civil War law. The only exception it says in the statute, if two doctors agree that an abortion is necessary to save the life of the mother, that's the only condition where it could be allowed.

Rebecca Kleefisch wants to remove that exception from that law. It's so far out of step with where our values and the vast majority of Wisconsinites are. She's also wants to completely scrap our bipartisan Wisconsin elections commission. She said that there should be an elected official in charge so they would be one throat to choke. That is a direct quote, one throat to choke in charge of the elections. And she was pushed on this by election officials who said, don't use these metaphors when you're talking about election administrators. And she said, oh, I use that phrase all the time. That was her big defense. It's alarming, but apparently radical Rebecca Kleefisch isn't extreme right enough for Donald Trump because Donald Trump has endorsed a different candidate, Tim Michels. Who jumped into the race very late and has been scrambling to get to the furthest right position in this primary that he can possibly find.

He, this week, came out against marriage equality, which is one of those arguments that you thought was over. He supports going back to the 19th century with the 1849 abortion ban in Wisconsin. He joins Rebecca Kleefisch and wanting to totally scrap our bipartisan Wisconsin's elections commission. He's talked about 2020 being rigged. He's one of these kind of Doug Mastriano ultra-hard right candidates who the more voters find out about what he actually thinks about things, the less support that he has.

There's two others in the race as well. There's a guy named Timothy Ramthun who wants to retroactively decertify the 2020 election, which just has no basis in the constitution or law, but that doesn't stop him. Tim Ramthun has a bill that would allow any election where the margin of victories is less than the number of absentee ballots cast in the race to be nullified. That bill so far has not moved through the state legislature. But I have now come to believe that nothing's impossible with these Republicans. And then the guy named Kevin Nicholson, who actually used to be the president of the College Democrats.

But now is the kind of pet project of Dick Uihlein, who is the biggest funder of the Stop The Steal rally and is right there with Rebecca Mercer in the kind of ultra hard right authoritarian billionaire category.

 

So that is the Republican slate of candidates for Governor. We won't know which one is the nominee until August 9th, but we can already tell that all of them are so far out on the right that we have a real shot at defeating them with a candidate as common, sensical and pragmatic and focused on doing the right thing as our democratic Governor Tony Evers. So Tony Evers won in 2018 by 1.1 percentage points, which I call a Wisconsin landslide. We’re the only state where four of the last six presidential races come down the less than one percentage point.

Tony Evers ran on a platform of protecting healthcare, supporting our schools and fixing the damn roads, which is a pretty salty language there. He has fixed the roads. He's paved enough roads to drive to Denver and back. He has restored funding to our schools, which are now back in the top 10 in the country. He's protected healthcare and gotten shots into arms. He's also kept his campaign promise to cut taxes from the middle class. He signed into law of 15% income tax cut and he's invested stimulus funds in small businesses. We've had 4,200 small businesses open storefronts and expand operations on Main Streets across our state.

So we have record low unemployment right now, and we have a state budget surplus. He's demonstrated that the Democratic kind of basic idea of investing from the middle out to grow the economy in a way that works for people can succeed in Wisconsin and that has made him someone that people basically trust. The last public poll, 40% of people disagreed with his statement, he cares about people like me. 54% of people agreed.

Most Wisconsinites know that he's on their side. It's such a clear contrast. Someone who just wakes up wanting to help people and do what's right as opposed to this group of Republicans who are supplicating for Trump's endorsement for the far right fringe of their party, and especially trying to rig the rules and potentially overturn our democracy. That's a contrast that works well for us. In a year that I recognize it's going to be tough nationally, I think we have a very good shot at winning two races that the Cook Political Report calls a tossup, both the Senate and the Governor's race.

David Nir:

For those of us who've watched Wisconsin from the outside, we've seen Governor Evers stand as a bulwark against some absolutely batshit legislation that Republicans have passed in the legislature. Maybe tell us about a few of the examples that Evers has prevented from becoming law.

Ben Wikler:

I appreciate that question. He called himself a goalie. He didn't realize that would be such an important part of his job when he was first running. In 2020, I should mention, Governor Evers put his campaign on hold and just focused on supporting state legislative candidates through a project called Save The Veto, that was a partnership with the state party, and we managed to stop Republicans from getting super majorities in both chambers.

If 3,500 votes had gone the other way, they would have those super majorities now. So it was down to the wire, but because he in veto bills and the state legislature sustains those vetoes, he was able to veto a bill they passed this spring that would allow people to bring loaded guns onto school property in their cars. That is not law because of his veto pen.

Ben Wikler:

He's vetoed 14 different voter suppression and election sabotage bills. He has vetoed a string of anti-reproductive rights bills, and Republicans are not only saying they would try to pass all these bills if they get a trifecta in the state, they have a lot more coming. The kinds of really hideous voter suppression bills that became law in Georgia, Arizona, Texas, Florida. Those would absolutely be law in Wisconsin if it wasn't for having a Governor who believes in democracy.

David Beard:

So you mentioned the upholding of the vetoes, which was allowed to happen because Democrats prevented the Republicans from getting a two thirds majority in the state legislature in 2020. Of course, Wisconsin has one of the worst Republican gerrymanders in the country. That's going to continue into the new decade. What are your goals as from the point of view of the state party for the state legislative elections that are coming in November? And is there a candidate or two you'd like to highlight for those races?

Ben Wikler:

Absolutely. Republicans have managed to re-gerrymander the maps, at least for now, with some help I should mention from the U.S. Supreme Court, which unlike in other states, decided to reach down and strike down our state legislative maps for reasons that will puzzle constitutional scholars for decades. So we have really, really tough maps this cycle.

Ben Wikler:

Republicans are explicitly trying to get super majorities in both chambers yet again, and we are explicitly determinedly working to stop them. We have great democratic leaders in both chambers that we're working closely with, Greta Neubauer in the Assembly, Janet Bewley in the State Senate. We have strong candidates across the state. Republicans are targeting folks like Katrina Shankland in central Wisconsin and Steve Doyle in western Wisconsin, really across the board in our state.

Ben Wikler:

Any place there's a Democrat, Republicans want to take them out. In those districts, we're going to absolutely support our candidates, and we will be organizing everywhere because we believe in the reverse coattails effect that having candidates on the ballot and supporting those candidates turns out voters who can affect the top of the ticket as well. That the essential thing is to make sure that they don't get the two-thirds majorities, and to win the governorship.

Ben Wikler:

Then next year, just to squeeze this in, in April of 2023, we have a state Supreme Court race. There will not be a lot happening across the country in election days that spring, but that race will be for the majority in Wisconsin state Supreme Court. If we can sustain the Governor's veto and if we have a non-hyper right wing majority in our state Supreme court, that sets us up to have a secure and fair and real legitimate election in 2024 when Wisconsin will probably be the tipping point state yet again. And so that is the kind of three hurdles that we have to jump through in order to make sure that the attempt that Republicans attempted in 2020 doesn't carry through in 2024.

David Nir:

It is almost a year off, but I would love to talk a little bit more about that state Supreme Court race because at Daily Kos, we have been obsessed with these sorts of races for many years, and only recently really I think has the broader progressive movement finally begun understood the importance of these races.

From my perspective, of course, I'd rather not be voting for judges at all, but this is the system that we have to live with, and the court right now is a four-three, usually conservative majority. We could flip that because of this Republican seat that's coming up. So can you tell us a little bit about the candidates who are running and how the whole timing of that election works because the time of year is even a little bit unusual?

Ben Wikler:

Sure. Six months after November 8th, 2022, it'll be April, early April 2023, and Wisconsin will have a statewide election, that will follow a February primary. There are already two kind of more progressive independent candidates who have announced their candidacy. On the right, the current justice is Pat Roggensack and she is retiring. She will be 81 when the election takes place, so it's an open seat. And the Republican rumored to be most likely to run is Dan Kelly, who's the candidate we defeated in 2020.

Dan Kelly is a hyperpartisan Republican lawyer who Donald Trump endorsed in 2020 in a big rally, and then kept talking about during his COVID briefings from the White House, which is arguably a Hatch Act violation right there. But Trump was all in for him because he thought that Dan Kelly would cast the deciding vote in our state Supreme Court to overturn the election results if he lost. As it was, we had one more vote against Trump than there were votes for Trump, and Trump was not able to overturn the election results in our state.

Dan Kelly is talking publicly about trying again and making sure that guy does not get in our state Supreme Court is just absolutely critical to people who want to live in a democracy nationally. There shouldn't be so much that rests on Wisconsin state Supreme Court decisions for the future of democracy in the entire United States, but this is where we are. I hope folks will circle in their calendar April of 2023, and we're going to need all the help we can get to mobilize and shoot up, turnout in an election that historically the kind of odd numbered year spring elections have not been a giant national and statewide focus.

David Beard:

So how can our Wisconsinite listeners get in touch with the Democratic party in their state and get more involved?

Ben Wikler:

Wherever you might be, you can support Democrats and the Democratic party of Wisconsin in fighting for victory for Governor Evers in defeating Ron Johnson, and I think Dems up and down the ballot, including defeating Derrick van Orden, who's an insurrectionist and is currently on probation for trying to bring a gun on a plane. He's running for Congress in the 3rd congressional district, which is an open seat. We need help across the board and you can get involved. You can become a monthly donor. That is the single, my favorite thing you can do.

If you go to wisdems.org/monthly, you can sign up to give a few bucks a month, that helps us to hire and know that we'll be able to keep our staff on month over month, year over year, and that in turn allows us to do the kind of deep, long term organizing building neighborhood teams that I've been talking about that helps us win, especially in these tough elections like the spring state Supreme Court race next year. So wisdems.org/monthly is great. Go to wisdems.org/convention to watch our state party convention, wherever you might be, or register and come to join us in lacrosse on June 25th to 26th.

And finally, I'll give the link wisdems.org/volunteer. You can join our virtual phone banks. You can join our volunteer operation to turn out every possible democratic voter. Races here are so close, so often. I was just talking to someone whose county board majority is in place because of a five-vote margin. That kind of thing is not uncommon across our state. And so helping turn out votes can have a huge impact, not just on the lives of Wisconsinites, but in the lives of everyone affected by who has the majority in the U.S. Senate or who the U.S. President is, or who is affected by the U.S. House majority, which is everybody on earth. So get involved wisdems.org/monthly, /donate, /volunteer and /convention.

David Nir:

We've been talking with Ben Wikler, the chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party about all of the intensely competitive races coming up this year and in fact, next year as well in his state. Ben, thank you so much for joining us on The Downballot today.

Ben Wikler:

It has been my great pleasure. Thanks so much, Nir. Thanks so much, Beard.

David Beard:

That's all from us this week. Thanks to Ben Wikler for joining us. The Downballot comes out every Thursday, everywhere you listen to podcast. You can reach us by email at thedownballot@dailycoast.com. If you haven't already, please like and subscribe to The Downballot and leave us a five-star rating and review. Thanks to our producer, Cara Zelaya and editor, Tim Einenkel. We'll be back next week with a new episode.

Highlights from The Downballot: Ben Wikler on how Democrats can win big in Wisconsin

This week on The Downballot, hosts David Nir and David Beard recapped recent elections, including a special election for a congressional seat in Texas and primaries in South Carolina that saw one pro-impeachment Republican go down in defeat. The pair also discussed an unusual Saturday special election in Alaska for the seat that had been held for decades by the late Republican Rep. Don Young.

Nir and Beard welcomed the chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, Ben Wikler, as this week’s guest. Wikler shared more about what a state party like his does and the key races they're focusing on this November.

You can listen below or subscribe to The Downballot wherever you listen to podcasts. You can also find a transcript for this week right here. New episodes come out every Thursday!

Beard kicked off the program with the top headlines from Tuesday night.

Texas held a special election to fill the remaining term for Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela, who resigned earlier this year to take a job with a lobbying firm. Conservative activist Mayra Flores flipped this Rio Grande Valley-based district to the GOP, winning about 51% of the vote. There were four candidates on the ballot, but just one major Republican and one major Democrat. Flores won 51% of the vote, and the major Democratic candidate, former Cameron County commissioner Dan Sanchez won about 43% of the vote.

Beard noted that there wasn't a ton of investment in trying to hold this seat on the Democratic side and that Republicans noticed an opportunity and spent heavily on the race:

Republicans spent over a million dollars on this race. They really invested. Democrats only began airing TV ads in the final week. They didn't spend very much money. This district is changing a significant amount. Biden won the current district, which is still from the 2010 redistricting cycle, by a 52-48 margin, but Biden wins the new district that will go into effect this November by a 57-42 margin, so it's getting noticeably more Democratic.

“That being said, that's definitely a shift in the margin from 52-48 Biden to—if you combine the Democrats and the Republicans—about 53% voted Republican and 47% voted Democrat, so that's a noticeable shift. It's certainly in line with a more Republican-leaning year, which is what we've been seeing with the polling and with other information that's been coming in,” Beard added. “The other factor here that's certainly worth noting is that it was very, very low turnout, so that can also be a factor in why there was somewhat of a shift. So you don't want to take this and just say, ‘Oh, we saw this shift. It'll translate all the way to November in every way,’ but it's certainly a signal worth acknowledging that it is certainly a sign of a Republican-leaning environment right now.”

The hosts then recapped primaries in South Carolina, which some have framed as “Trump's revenge.” Trump did, in fact, exact revenge against a Republican congressman in the 7th district, Tom Rice, who was one of the ten GOP House members who voted for impeachment. Rice was soundly defeated by state Rep. Russell Fry, who beat him 51-25. “What was even more remarkable about this is there were five Republicans total challenging race so for Fry to get a majority of the vote was pretty unexpected. Even Fry claimed that his own polling showed the race going to a runoff,” Nir said.

The other South Carolina race that was really closely watched this week was in the 1st District, where Rep. Nancy Mace beat former state Rep. Katie Arrington 53-45, thus avoiding a runoff. Trump endorsed Arrington, as he was furious at a few of Mace’s critical comments of him after Jan. 6, even though she very quickly backed off.

On Saturday, Alaska held a special election for Alaska's at-large congressional seat, which has been vacant since GOP Rep. Don Young passed away earlier this year. Alaska has a fairly distinct electoral system: all of the candidates were on the ballot in this first round, and the top four candidates will advance to a second round on Aug. 16. That ballot will use ranked-choice voting to determine the winner. Ballots are still being counted, but the AP has declared three of the four candidates who will advance to the second round, the first being former Gov. Sarah Palin, who has a clear lead so far with about 30% of the vote.

Beard summarized the outcome so far:

Of course, Palin is a Republican, as is the so far second-place candidate, businessman Nick Begich, who has about 19% of the vote. And then independent Al Gross, who is also the former 2020 Democratic nominee for Senate but is running now as an Independent; he's also been called to advance. He has about 13% of the vote so far. And then, the fourth slot hasn't been called yet, but former Democratic state Rep. Mary Peltola is currently in that spot and will likely advance as well, unless late-breaking ballots are radically different than what's been counted so far.

Palin's strong first-round showing, getting over 30% of the vote, makes it likely that she will be one of the last two candidates standing when this ranked-choice voting takes place. The big question, Beard points out, is: Who is going to make it into that other slot where the fourth-place candidate and then the third-place candidate are eliminated?

While Palin has always been a polarizing figure, she has Donald Trump's endorsement, which makes it much more likely that Begich would pick up Independents and Democrats, if it is those two facing off against each other at the very end of the instant runoff tabulations.

At this point, Wikler joined the hosts to discuss the crucial work of the Wisconsin Democratic Party.

“Let's talk a little bit about what that rollercoaster ride has been like. I'm sure that some of our listeners are probably pretty plugged into their own state Democratic parties. But I'll bet that many folks aren't necessarily all that familiar with what their state parties do. And of course, the goal of any party organization is to get its candidates elected. But what exactly does the Wisconsin Democratic Party do to make that happen?” Nir asked.

The biggest part of the organization’s budget and its crown jewel, Wikler asserts, is its organization model, which allows it to reach voters in every corner of the state:

Our state party unusually uses the Obama campaign model, where our organizers actually build teams of volunteers that run door-to-door canvassing and phone banking operations in their own communities. And when you do that on a continuous basis, as we've done now since my predecessor, who launched these neighborhood teams in the spring of 2017, and we've built and built and built them; we now have hundreds across the state. When you do that continuously, you actually build momentum over time. So, every dollar you spend on organizing goes further, because you can have one organizer who's working with multiple teams to coach and support them and make sure they have the data they need.

A robust voter protection operation that is run on a year-round basis is now a mainstay of the organization’s work, as well. Wikler highlighted how the party has increasingly focused on voting rights over these last few years to make sure that local clerks aren't rolling back voting rights. The state Democratic Party also recruits and supports poll workers, poll observers, and lawyers who are able to help voters resolve issues. A voter protection hotline is also available for anyone in Wisconsin to call at 608-DEM-3232.

Last, but not least, the party’s data team helps make sure they’re figuring out where the voters they need to mobilize are and who they need to persuade.

Next, the trio delved into Wikler and his team’s plan to defeat Republican Sen. Ron Johnson this fall. As Wikler put it, “Ron Johnson is so, so appallingly extraordinarily bad”:

It’s not just that he says that COVID can be cured with mouthwash or says that the Jan. 6 insurrectionists were patriots who love their country and love law enforcement—which is something he actually said. He said he would've been scared if it had been Black Lives Matter protestors, but he wasn't scared with the protestors that were actually there. It's not just all that stuff. It's that he's profoundly self-serving. His claim to fame as a senator is that he insisted on an extra tax break on top of Trump's giant tax scam that personally benefited him and his biggest donor massively. It's one of the most regressive tax cuts ever passed through the United States Congress that he insisted on putting in, and that he's been billing taxpayers to fly him back to Congress from his vacation home in Florida.

So we've been making this case against him, and so many independent and grassroots organizations have done the same thing. His approval rating is now 36%, which is stunning in a year that's supposed to be tough for Democrats and good for Republicans. The Political Report called him the most vulnerable incumbent from either party in the Senate in 2022. And meanwhile, on the Democratic side, there's a contested primary. There's a bunch of candidates who've made the ballot, but we won't know our nominee until Aug. 9. And so this is a perfect kind of case in point for why having a strong party matters, because we have to build the whole general election apparatus before Aug. 9. It's like building a spaceship right on the launchpad. And then once we have the nominee, they jump into the cockpit and they hit ignition.

“Can you tell us a little bit more about this spaceship that you're building on the launchpad for the eventual Democratic nominee for the Senate race?” Nir asked.

Wikler discussed the intersection of the digital, the data, the organizing, the voter protection, the communications—all the different elements. He also mentioned that, due to state party rules, the Wisconsin Democratic Party is bound and committed to remaining neutral in the primary. “So we're not putting our thumb on the scale, but all the candidates have told us that once we have a nominee, they will work with the infrastructure that we've put in place,” he added. “As opposed to doing what has often happened in different states around the country, which is: you get a Senate nominee, and they decide they want to reshuffle all the staff and reshape how the program works and all this kind of stuff.”

As far as goals from the point of view of the state party for the state legislative elections that are coming in November, and candidates to highlight for those races, Wikler had the following to say:

Republicans have managed to re-gerrymander the maps, at least for now, with some help, I should mention, from the U.S. Supreme Court, which unlike in other states, decided to reach down and strike down our state legislative maps for reasons that will puzzle constitutional scholars for decades. So we have really, really tough maps this cycle.

Republicans are explicitly trying to get supermajorities in both chambers yet again, and we are explicitly determinedly working to stop them. We have great Democratic leaders in both chambers that we're working closely with: Greta Neubauer in the Assembly, Janet Bewley in the state Senate. We have strong candidates across the state. ...

Then next year, just to squeeze this in, in April of 2023, we have a state Supreme Court race. There will not be a lot happening across the country in elections that spring, but that race will be for the majority in Wisconsin state Supreme Court. If we can sustain the governor's veto and if we have a non-hyper right wing majority in our state Supreme court, that sets us up to have a secure and fair and legitimate election in 2024, when Wisconsin will probably be the tipping point state yet again.

Lastly, Beard asked Wikler how listeners could help: “So how can our Wisconsinite listeners get in touch with the Democratic Party in their state and get more involved?”

Wikler replied:

Wherever you might be, you can support Democrats and the Democratic Party of Wisconsin in fighting for victory for Gov. Evers and defeating Ron Johnson. I think Dems up and down the ballot, including defeating Derek van Orden, who's an insurrectionist currently on probation for trying to bring a gun on a plane. He's running for Congress in the third congressional district, which is an open seat. We need help across the board, and you can get involved. You can become a monthly donor. That is the single, my favorite thing you can do.

If you go to wisdems.org/monthly, you can sign up to give a few bucks a month; that helps us to hire and know that we'll be able to keep our staff on month over month, year over year, and that in turn allows us to do the kind of deep, long term organizing, building neighborhood teams … that help us win, especially in these tough elections like the spring state Supreme Court race next year. And finally, I'll give the link wisdems.org/volunteer. You can join our virtual phone banks. You can join our volunteer operation to turn out every possible Democratic voter. Races here are so close, so often.

The Downballot comes out every Thursday everywhere you listen to podcasts. As a reminder, you can reach our hosts by email at thedownballot@dailykos.com. Please send in any questions you may have for next week's mailbag. You can also reach out via Twitter: @DKElections.

Schiff: ‘The court is the most unrepresentative body in the U.S.’ and ‘needs to be unstacked’

The effort by a handful of committed Democrats to elevate Supreme Court expansion got a powerful boost this week when Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) added his voice. In a tweet Wednesday, Schiff said: “What I care about is that a small number of conservative justices, who lied about their plans to the Senate, intend to deprive millions of women of reproductive care. Codifying Roe isn't enough. We must expand the court.”

He elaborated on that in an interview with CBS News’ Robert Costa Thursday. “I think the court is now the most unrepresentative body in the United States,” He said. “It is a socially conservative court that has moved in a partisan direction to enact a partisan agenda. And it is the result of Mitch McConnell withholding a justice when Barack Obama was president and then forcing through a justice in the waning days before the election with President Trump.”  

Rep. Adam Schiff on why he has called for the Supreme Court to be expanded: "I think the court is now the most unrepresentative body in the United States." pic.twitter.com/xJ7WKIH1Vt

— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 5, 2022

“As a result, the court is now stacked in this socially conservative way and I think it needs to be unstacked,” he continued. 

“Stacked” or “packed” by McConnell and Trump, choose your rhetoric, the result is the same: “the court is now in a position to force on America a policy regarding abortion that America does not agree with, that puts women’s health at risk and I think is disastrous for the country.”

Christine Pelosi talks about the Supreme Court's leaked decision on Roe v. Wade, and what Democrats are doing now, on Daily Kos’ The Brief podcast

The first order of business for congressional Democrats, he said, is to hold the vote on legislation to codify Roe v. Wade. He had a message for the two supposedly pro-choice senators who aided and abetted McConnell and Trump in this, as well as for the anti-filibuster Democrats: “I have to hope that some of these senators that bought these assurances from these Supreme Court nominees when they—before the Senate, under oath—said that they would respect precedent, having seen those promises betrayed, would support legislation now to codify Roe and do what’s necessary to overcome the filibuster to do it.”

That’s not going to happen, not even for as profound an issue as saving reproductive rights. But don’t get discouraged, says another key proponent for expanding the court, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). She gave a much-needed pep talk to all of us in Teen Vogue this week. “We may not end the filibuster in the next hour and a half, but it doesn't mean we shouldn't fight to do exactly that. To make change takes not only passion, but persistence. We gotta turn the heat up under it, and keep it up,” she said.

“Those who don't want to make change count on the fact that people get tired. Over Roe v. Wade, we don't have the luxury of getting tired. So if we want to make real change, we've got to push [to end the filibuster].”

She also gave an impassioned argument for expanding the court and for Democrats to keep fighting. “We need to be as visionary as right-wing Republicans have been,” she said. “The Roe decision, at some level, should have shocked no one. They've been working on this for decades. They've been working to stack the Supreme Court, so that it would be a handful of extremists who would deliver one opinion after another that would impose their worldview on the rest of us.”

“The number of justices on the Supreme Court is determined by Congress, that's what the Constitution says,” she pointed out. “Nine is not a magic number. It's been changed seven times before. When a court has gotten this far out of sync with American values, then it's time to expand the court and pull it back toward the middle.”

That’s the fight. It wouldn’t hurt for Schiff, who led the first Trump impeachment, to start making a legislative case for expansion by investigating all five extremist justices for swearing, under oath, to varying degrees of fealty to the idea of stare decisis—Supreme Court precedent. They all lied to different degrees about the respect they would give to the previous courts’ decisions.

They’ve, as Schiff said, squandered the integrity of the court. “[S]adly, most Americans now view the court as they should in the wake of this draft opinion as no longer a conservative legal court but merely a partisan one. The court has sadly become a partisan institution, like every other.” 

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Clarence and Ginni Thomas take center stage at House hearing on Supreme Court ethics

The federal judiciary is on tap for the House Wednesday—specifically, the topic of reforming the federal judiciary. The House has a raft of suspension bills (legislation that doesn’t require the regular rules process on the floor) it will run through, including the bipartisan Courthouse Ethics and Transparency Act, which the Senate already passed in February. While that’s happening, the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts will hold a hearing on Supreme Court ethics, or lack thereof.

That’s the juicy part of the day, with lawmakers spurred on by the disclosure of Ginni Thomas’ text messages showing the depth of her involvement in trying to promote a coup. As the spouse of a wildly partisan political activist, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas at the very least should have recused from any cases related to the 2020 election and Donald Trump. Which of course he did not. This hearing will examine the lack of Supreme Court ethics and Congress’ role in dealing with that, including impeachment.

A memo obtained by The Hill from subcommittee chair Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) and sent to members ahead of the hearing outlines the existing codes of conduct that apply to other federal judges and summarizes legislative proposals that would extend the code to Supreme Court justices. As of right now, they’re exempt from it and are expected to discipline themselves—which, in Thomas’ case, doesn’t happen. The memo also outlines Congress’ impeachment authority as one of the tools at their disposal.

“Threats or inquiries of impeachment as a means of regulating the conduct of Supreme Court justices have had varying effects,” the memo said. Just one justice in the nation’s history has been impeached by the House, Samuel Chase in 1804. He was not convicted by the Senate. In 1969, Justice Abe Fortas resigned over an impeachment threat. The current crop of Republican justices pretty much thumb their nose at the idea of ethics, in contrast to the newest justice-designate, Ketanji Brown Jackson, who has preemptively recused herself from an affirmative action case before she’s even been officially seated on the court.

Markos and Kerry talk Ukraine and speak with Wisconsin Democratic Party chair Ben Wikler on how hitting back at Republicans helps win elections

The memo makes it clear that this hearing is about the Thomases and the increasing calls for action  “following the reporting about text messages between the spouse of an associate justice and the then-White House Chief of Staff.”

“The Supreme Court has long operated as though it were above the law. But, Justice Clarence Thomas’ refusal to recuse himself from cases surrounding January 6th, despite his wife’s involvement, raises serious ethical—and legal—alarm bells,” vice chair of the subcommittee Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-NY), said ahead of the hearing. “The need for strong, enforceable ethics laws is clearer than ever. We have to do more to hold the Court accountable and restore public trust through a binding code of ethics and recusal.”

“Recent reports that the text messages of a justice’s spouse urging the overturning of a free and fair election may have been at issue in a case in front the Supreme Court—but that the justice did not recuse himself from the case—is just the latest and particularly egregious example in an unfortunately long list of illustrations as to why Supreme Court justices need to follow a formal code of ethics,” Johnson told The Hill. “I have been calling for this sort of reform for years, and I am encouraged to see a large, bipartisan majority of the public in favor of this long overdue legislation.”

Republicans, and particularly Senate Republicans, are unlikely to agree because it’s their justices behaving badly. It is, however, important for Democrats to keep pushing that point and to keep up the drumbeat for reform. The threat of some kind of action from Congress—a SCOTUS code of ethics, court expansion, impeachment—is at this point the only leverage that exists against the rogue Supreme Court majority.

The legislation they will pass Wednesday (a slightly different version passed 422-4 in December) will help some toward that effort. It also demonstrates that even the most hardcore partisan Republicans—in this case the bill’s sponsor, Sen. John Cornyn—recognize that there has to be at least the gloss of accountability for the Supreme Court. The bill toughens financial disclosure requirements for federal judges, including Supreme Court justices. They will have to make financial holdings and stock trades publicly available online, in the interest of disclosing conflicts of interest that would warrant judges recusing themselves from related cases.

As it currently stands, the parties involved in a case can request to see the judge’s financial disclosures, as can members of the public, but the judges themselves get to decide how much information they release and when. They have sole discretion in redacting information and can take all the time they want to fulfill requests.

The legislation is a result of a report last fall in the Wall Street Journal that found more than 130 judges broke the law by hearing cases in which they had a financial interest instead of recusing themselves. The Journal found 685 lawsuits that were decided by judges with a financial stake, with the potential fallout of hundreds of cases being overruled.

When the Journal alerted the judges to these violations, “56 of the judges […] directed court clerks to notify parties in 329 lawsuits that they should have recused themselves. That means new judges might be assigned, potentially upending rulings.” Most of the judges gave lame excuses or played dumb. “I had no idea that I had an interest in any of these companies in what was a most modest retirement account,” said Judge Timothy Batten Sr. of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, who owned JPMorgan Chase stock and ruled favorably for the bank in several cases.

Under this legislation, everyone in the judiciary branch will have to follow disclosure requirements like those that apply to lawmakers, reporting within 45 days all stock trades of more than $1,000. The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts will have to create an online database, searchable and publicly accessible, of judicial financial disclosure forms and will have to get those forms into the database within 90 days from when they’re filed. The new law will apply to Supreme Court justices as well as federal appellate, district court, bankruptcy, and magistrate judges. The database has to be online within six months of President Joe Biden signing the bill.

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Democrats To Explore Impeachment Options For Conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

Impeachment-happy Democrats are expected to hold a hearing to explore the possibility of impeachment for Supreme Court justices in the wake of controversial messages surfacing from the wife of conservative Justice Clarence Thomas.

The hearing follow reports that Thomas’ wife, Virginia ‘Ginni’ Thomas, exchanged text messages with then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about alleged election fraud after the 2020 election.

Representative Hank Johnson (D-GA) distributed a memo to members of the House Judiciary courts subcommittee that seeks further inquiry into legislative proposals to impose ‘ethics requirements’ on Supreme Court justices.

The memo, obtained by The Hill, “discusses Congress’s impeachment authority” as a means to regulate “the conduct of Supreme Court justices.”

Johnson, famously known as the lawmaker who once asked if the island of Guam might capsize if too many people were on it, is the chairman of the subcommittee.

RELATED: AOC Calls To Impeach Clarence Thomas, The Only Black Supreme Court Justice

Seeking Impeachment of Clarence Thomas

Clarence Thomas is the longest-serving justice, the second black justice, the only black justice until Ketanji Brown Jackson is confirmed over the summer, and the most conservative member currently serving on the Supreme Court.

That’s the true reason why he is being targeted.

Democrats have been seeking to get his recusal on cases involving the election and former President Donald Trump, suggesting his interpretation of laws is clouded by his wife’s beliefs.

The hearing exploring ethics and impeachment options involving the Supreme Court, titled “Building Confidence in the Supreme Court Through Ethics and Recusal Reforms,” will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

A committee in Congress, which perpetually holds a favorability rating in the teens, wants to ‘build confidence’ in the Supreme Court, whose favorability rating recently sat at 54%.

Though she doesn’t serve on the committee, far-left Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has been instrumental in the notion that the impeachment of Clarence Thomoas should be explored.

“Clarence Thomas should resign,” she tweeted last month.

“If not, his failure to disclose income from right-wing organizations, recuse himself from matters involving his wife, and his vote to block the Jan 6th commission from key information must be investigated and could serve as grounds for impeachment.”

Once again proving the Squad Queen tells her party to jump … and they sure do ask ‘How high?’

RELATED: DeSantis Signs Bill To Create Election Police Force In Florida To Investigate Voter Fraud

The Impeachment Mob is Unwarranted

AOC went on to suggest the only sitting black Supreme Court justice must be ‘held accountable’ for the actions of his wife.

“Congress must understand that a failure to hold Clarence Thomas accountable sends a loud, dangerous signal to the full Court,” she said.

Mark Paoletta, former chief counsel and assistant to Vice President Mike Pence, argues that the case against the Thomases is thin and manufactured.

In a column for the Washington Examiner, Paoletta points out that Virginia Thomas’ involvement in the events of January 6 is minimal as she “attended the rally … but left before then-President Donald Trump addressed the crowd because she was cold.”

Paoletta also notes one of her private texts to Meadows points out the rioters themselves do not represent Trump supporters.

The National Review’s Andrew McCarthy concurs noting, “The smearing of Justice Thomas is transparently partisan politics, nothing more.”

A senior GOP aide tells The Hill, “Let’s be honest, this hearing is nothing more than step one in impeaching Justice Thomas.”

Thomas once famously declared his nomination process, turned into a smear campaign back in 1991, was “a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas.”

Then-Senator Joe Biden was instrumental in those shenanigans. 

With Democrats now pursuing the impeachment of Clarence Thomas, what exactly has changed in the party since that moment over 30 years ago?

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