Over the past two years, we’ve heard a lot about actions that President Trump has taken to destroy norms — and I’ve joined in the criticism at times myself. But Democrats running to replace him in 2020 are not campaigning on a platform of restoring norms, they are just pushing to destroy different norms that they don’t like.
Even putting aside the radical policies they are proposing, Democrats want to make structural changes to the American system of government to benefit their own political agenda.
Just this week, leading 2020 Democratic candidates Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachussetts, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, and Kamala Harris of California said they would be open to expanding the Supreme Court so they can pack it with liberal judges. Asked about this idea, their rival Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey said he was open to exploring all options for changing the Supreme Court, including imposing term limits.
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who has been generating a lot of attention for his longshot presidential bid, has touted a plan to expand the Supreme Court to 15, with five Republican appointees, five Democratic appointees, and the remaining five to be appointed by a unanimous vote of the 10 judges — an idea also floated by former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas.
Liberal activist and former Hillary Clinton aide Brian Fallon tweeted, “There is no longer any debate about whether Democrats must reform the Supreme Court. The only discussion is about the how. Term limits are a good step but we also must expand the Court’s size.”
There is simply no way Democrats would be pushing this conversation were there a solid liberal majority rather than a Supreme Court that currently tilts in a conservative direction.
Meanwhile, liberal complaints about the electoral college are also starting to get heard by the candidates. On Monday night, Warren called for eliminating the Electoral College, which enabled Trump to be elected in 2016 and George W. Bush in 2000 despite losing the national popular vote. Of course, those elections were fought knowing going in that the Electoral College would decide the outcome. The electoral college, like the Senate itself, is a way to protect the interest of states against an increasingly powerful federal government.
Getting rid of the Electoral College would thus be a forerunner to getting rid of the Senate itself and moving to a purely majoritarian system in which a party could sweep into power and implement a radical agenda without much resistance. Clearly, that’s a benefit to the people who want to dramatically expand government.
There were two ways that Democrats could have reacted to Trump.
One would have been to campaign on restoring norms, strengthening institutions, and returning to a more stable form of politics. The other was to use Trumpism as an excuse to embrace radicalism and tear down the institutions that they don’t like. It’s becoming increasingly clear in which direction they’re heading.