OPINION | BRADLEY GITZ: In search of good liberals

Some columnists have a difficult time picking something to write about, others have a difficult time picking because there are too many possibilities. I fall into the second category, hence the occasional column like this one, hopping from topic to topic, in admittedly lazy fashion.

Those who believe that Sonia Sotomayor is a social-justice activist impersonating a Supreme Court justice got further confirmation from an event recently at the University of California (Berkeley) School of Law, wherein, commenting upon conservative-leaning rulings, she said "Every loss truly traumatizes me in my stomach and in my heart. But I have to get up the next morning and keep on fighting."

Those are the words of a politician who has just lost an election or suffered a legislative defeat. They most certainly are not the words of a sober-minded judge who sees it as her duty to objectively rule on cases based on their legal merits.

The "wise Latina woman" apparently isn't wise enough to understand what a judge does and what a court is for (hint: not for legislating).

All too many of Donald Trump's most ardent supporters still fail to grasp that Trump isn't and never has been a "conservative" in any meaningful sense of the term. He meanders all about the political map from day to day and spouts whatever lines get the biggest cheers at the MAGA rallies, even if they are profoundly unconservative, incoherent and just plain nuts.

Along these lines, I've long believed that, had Hillary Clinton not been widely perceived as the inevitable Democratic nominee in 2016, Trump would have just as likely entered their primary instead of the Republican. The Democratic race looked to be sewn up, the Republican wide-open, so he chose the Republican.

Ideology or party have never had anything to do with Trumpism. Trump's beliefs, to the extent they exist or can be understood, are entirely malleable and self-serving and bear little resemblance to those of traditional American conservatism (see Reagan, Ronald).

It has become virtually impossible to express concern over some of the legal indictments and rulings against Trump without being called a "Trump supporter" (no matter how many times you think you've made it abundantly clear that you are not). Let us say this again: It is possible to both despise Trump and also believe that Democrats are damaging our nation's legal system by using it against him in "whatever it takes" fashion.

Within this context, it is inconceivable that any good liberal, meaning one presumably dedicated to the rule of law, would approve of the grotesque $464 million punishment for fraud handed out against Trump by New York Judge Arthur Engoron. The ruling was accurately described by National Review's Rich Lowry (hardly a friend of Trump's) as "the handiwork of an elected Democratic judge in a case brought by an elected Democratic prosecutor [New York Attorney General Letitia James] who pledged in her election campaign to pursue Trump."

Prosecutors making campaign promises "to get" political opponents, judges handing down egregious civil damage awards to plaintiffs they disagree with politically, efforts to remove the front-runner of the opposition party from ballots based on novel constitutional interpretations. Nothing good is going to come from any of this for anyone, as every tactic used by Democrats today can and will be used by Republicans against Democrats tomorrow.

There was a time, not that long ago, when just about everyone believed that legal indictments and court rulings were to be assessed entirely on their merits, not whom they were directed against.

Joe Biden's unconstitutional student-loan-forgiveness executive orders aren't loan forgiveness so much as debt transfer, from those who took out college loans to those who didn't, essentially from Ph.D.s to plumbers.

So, again, and apart from the wisdom of such debt transfers, aren't there any good liberals out there who are troubled by the precedents being set; more specifically, by how Biden has gone about it all?

Taking money from one group to give to another has always been the central logic of the modern welfare state (and thus the Democratic approach to politics and winning elections), but usually this has required the legislature to pass laws to that effect, to do, in other words, what legislatures are constitutionally empowered to do in liberal democracies. Now, via Biden's precedent, and contrary to what the Supreme Court has ruled, a president can simply do it by executive fiat, in effect both undermining the authority of the court and destroying perhaps the most important source of congressional power, the power of the purse.

Interesting question: If presidents can simply wave a magic wand and excuse debts incurred for service X, can they not do it for other debts for other services? If not, why not?

And if they can excuse debt for favored constituencies, why can't they shift those debts (impose them as punishments) on unfavored ones?

The sheer cynicism of the Biden ploy staggers the mind, containing as it does profound contempt for our constitutional order, as well as for the alleged beneficiaries, who are presumed to be so easily bought.

So this is the guy who's on a mission to save democracy and the rule of law?

Freelance columnist Bradley R. Gitz, who lives in Batesville, received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Illinois.

Upcoming Events