In grand “elections have consequences” style, Trump got to nominate his second Supreme Court justice this week. Before his pick was even announced, the Left had its plaints and protests locked and loaded. As in, tweets and placards with place holders and blank spaces had been prepared to declare Trump’s pick unfit, dangerous, and a mortal threat to all that we (they, actually) hold dear.

Trump’s pick, Kavanaugh, appears on first blush to be wholly qualified and to have sufficient originalist tendencies to satisfy this libertarian (although it appears he will, unfortunately, track the same government-deferential way as the other conservatives on the Court in matters of privacy and the Fourth Amendment). Not perfect, by any means, but “good enough,” given the person making the pick and the party controlling the confirmation.

That’s not today’s matter, however. Instead, lets ponder the gripe we witnessed about Gorsuch’s nomination that is being resurrected by some: the non-vote regarding Merrick Garland.

As some of you will recall, Justice Scalia died in February, 2016, and Obama nominated Garland just about a month later. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell used the power of his seat and party to refuse to vote on Garland, and cited the proximity of the election as his reason. Liberals were aghast, screaming about unfairness, calling it a “blockade” and other unsavory things, gnashing many teeth, and clamoring about whether this will be a “rule” in future years.

All of this was impotent rage, since the only mandate in the Constitution is that the Senate gets final say on whomever the President nominates, and puts no further strictures on that body. Even that liberal bastion, The Atlantic, understood that reality. Furthermore, there is no “rule” that requires the Senate to act consistently year-to-year, only a voluntary respect for tradition and continuity.

Here’s what the liberals bewailing this SCOTUS nomination need to come to terms with:

Y’all did it to yourselves.

  • Your party rigged the 2016 Presidential nomination process in favor of the anointed one, and thus you hitched your wagon to a godawful candidate.

  • Your Senate majority leader killed off the 60 vote rule for lower court nominations, opening the door for the other party to do the same re Supreme Court nominations.

  • Your Senate majority leader ran the Senate as a one-party fiefdom, engaging in zero sum combat with the opposition rather than strive for consensus, and thus invited the other party to follow suit when it gained power.

All this is pretty obvious. But, unsaid is the deeper reality:

After the 2008 election, the Democratic Party had a 79 seat majority in the House, a de facto 60-40 filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, a president that won 365-173 in the Electoral College and 9.5 million more votes than his challenger, a 29-21 majority in state governorships, and a 23-13 majority in one-party-controlled state legislatures.

By the time Trump got inaugurated, the Democratic Party had lost control of both houses of Congress, were down to 16 governorships, and were a 14-32 minority in one-party-controlled state legislatures. In that eight year span of time, the Democrats lost over 1000 federal and state seats.

What happened?

Two words: Barack Obama.

Obama came into office, having sold himself as a unifier and riding a wave of optimism. He immediately set out on an aggressively progressive agenda. He famously declared “I won,” dismissed the then-powerless Republican Party, and engaged in nakedly partisan politics. This was hidden to some degree by a sycophantic press and by his personal polish and charisma, to the point where the reality of his “scold-in-chief” approach to dealing with opposing views became evident mainly in hindsight. His liberal over-reach and odd decision to pursue a massive, single-party, and very rushed rework of the nation’s health care system(s) in his first year cost him the House, with a 63 seat shift led by the Tea Party movement. His party also lost 6 seats in the Senate, wiping out any hope of breaking filibusters without Republican support.

Rather than recognize the very clear message of that drubbing, he instead decided to dig his heels in and continue to pursue his big-government agenda. Abetted by that sycophantic press and an opponent with the charisma of stale bread soaked in milk, he won re-election, albeit by only half the popular margin of his first go-around (5M) and a smaller electoral margin (332-206). His party gained 2 seats in the Senate and 8 seats in the House (not enough to take control back), which would be expected of a Presidential winner’s party. Obama read his re-election as a mandate to continue with his agenda, and when Congress didn’t play along, he uttered his famous “pen and phone” bit, despite, only a few years back, then-Candidate Obama decrying presidential over-reach.

For his troubles, he drew another rebuke from the voters in the 2014 midterms, with the Republicans gaining 9 seats in the Senate, to take control of the house that, only 6 years earlier, the Democrats held in super-majority. The Republicans added 13 seats to their House majority, further establishing the message from the voters, and turning Obama into a lame-duck, stuck with a Congress controlled by a party that he first sent to the back of the bus (when he had the supermajority and chose to be partisan rather than magnanimous) and later scolded for not doing as he demanded. Democrats decry the GOP’s intransigence, but it’s obvious to me that this intransigence was the wholly expectable result of mistreatment by the guy at the top.

If I were a Democratic Party loyalist, I’d be furious, but not at the GOP, which is reaping the spoils of victory. I’d be blood-boiling livid at the guy who blew it, who pushed too hard and too far, and who elevated the partisan rancor from pedestrian squabble-level to the zero-sum winner-loser absolutism we witness today.

So, as far as the GOP leadership’s denying a vote on Merrick, the blame lies at feet of the Democrats themselves. They blew it. They had it all, and, like drunken sailors on their first shore leave, spent all their capital with no regard for long-term consequences or blow-back. Their current powerlessness is their own doing.

A bit of unsolicited advice for my left-leaning friends: Next time you’re in power, try not to lose a thousand elections in 6 years. Maybe, if you learn something from history, you might not fall as mightily as you have this go-around.

I doubt you’ll heed the plain and obvious lessons I recapped here, though. Your stridency has grown worse, not better, and you’ve shown zero self-awareness and zero comprehension of what’s been done to you by your own. Until you do, don’t expect things to get better for you.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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