The fact that unacceptable Twitter comments do not qualify as “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors” — the litmus for impeachment — didn’t stop 95 Democrats from supporting a resolution to introduce articles of impeachment against the president on Wednesday night. However, 137 other Democrats, voted to table it. This further widens an already growing rift within the Democratic Party, and is a chilling omen.
The extremists, mostly younger, who often refer to themselves as “Justice Democrats,” are the creation of establishment liberals like Nancy Pelosi; but even more so, they have been influenced by the far-Left generation of Barack Obama. They are committed to fundamentally transforming the United States of America no matter what.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and establishment Democrats know they have a problem with the extremists. Some, like Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, have surrendered to them rather than fight them. Others, like Pelosi, have attempted sternness or compromise.
But all attempts to bring the extreme Left to the table have failed, because the extreme Left is sitting at a different table altogether. Pelosi’s variant of liberalism may now seem rather moderate compared to the outright embrace of socialism by some of the extremists, but Pelosi’s liberalism was a direct catalyst for what would follow.
And what is also following for the Democrats is the very real possibility that 2020 will be a bad year for them because of that extremism.
Ronald Reagan and the conservatives reoriented the American center to the Right. For the normal American, something like the Green New Deal makes no financial or common sense, and neither do those who advocate for it. But that is not to say the years beyond 2020 might be the same.
Extremists often achieve success because they are utterly undeterred from the perceived rightness of their mission and their course. The ends justify the means, even where it means excising their own.
The French Jacobins and the Russian Bolsheviks were, within their brutal revolutions, minority contingents that rapidly gained influence and power. The Jacobins paved the way for Napoleon, continental war, and an order of politics in Europe that would essentially remain in place until World War I, while the Bolsheviks gave rise to Stalin, Communism, and a global Cold War that swept across generations. The Jacobin Robespierre and the socialist Trotsky fell victim to the forces they had helped to stoke, while the extremists absorbed enormous costs to see victory through.
For the extreme American Left, defeat in 2020 would be a cheap price to pay for victory in 2022 or 2024. Accordingly, handfuls of votes can determine primary elections in favor of extremists. And how many liberal Democrats would honestly vote for a Republican in a general election even if the Democratic candidate was an extremist?
After all, the establishment once cheered the election victories of Justice Democrats, seeing them as compatriots. It should not have been surprising when the extremists turned on the establishment, including Obama and Pelosi, for not being extreme enough.
Justice Democrats took it seriously when Obama called for a fundamental transformation of the United States, and criticized Obama for not doing enough to make it happen. They believe they will succeed where the establishment failed, even if it means dismantling the establishment and wrecking their political chances in 2020.
Many have understood that this extremism will not go over well with most Americans. In the attempt to soften appearances and mainstream the extremism on the Left, comparisons have been drawn between them and the rise of conservatives within the Republican Party. There are two serious points that deny the comparison.
First, while conservatism’s rise was composed by major figures such as William F. Buckley and Ronald Reagan, and a greater network of thinkers, advocates, and organizations, ranging from Russell Kirk to Phyllis Schlafly to the American Conservative Union, there was more. Conservatism was never merely or only the sum of its personalities. It was always the philosophy which mattered most.
Second, conservatism was not manifested within a few months or by coercion. It took decades. It included the articulation of a coherent and stable philosophy, evidence, experience, elections, and above all, a patient persuasion and conversion that conservatism was the right path.
This is hardly similar to the present, in which the expanding circle of Justice Democrats leverage their social media presence and personal popularity to manipulate or bully their interests forward. They are absolutely convinced they are right, and to even question them is to risk backlash and any number of wild accusations. They have demanded Pelosi meet them at their table, and have issued what amounts to a threat: don’t single them out.
It should be remembered that, while Buckley and other leading conservatives may not have always been thrilled with Republican presidential nominees, as one example, they never cruelly worked against them. And recall Reagan’s “eleventh commandment” that no Republican should ever speak ill of another undeservedly. This is certainly not the practice of the Left’s extremists.
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Americans see this, and know that Justice Democrats will not stop at party borders. This is where President Trump has to continue to step forward, reminding Americans there is another, better way. That begins with letting the extremists speak for themselves. If they won’t stop with their fellow Democrats, they certainly won’t stop with anyone else.