Is Kavanaugh Keeping a Promise to Susan Collins?, by John Zmirak

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President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, a federal appeals court judge, laughs at a joke from Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., as he appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018, for the second day of his confirmation hearing to replace retired Justice Anthony Kennedy. The Senate veteran joked that he was "new here." (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

By John Zmirak, The Stream, December 11, 2018

John ZmirakIt’s not time to panic. But yes, we ought to worry. Two Supreme Court appointees from the Bush wing of the GOP, John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh, just blocked the Court from permitting states to defund Planned Parenthood. Clarence Thomas (a Bush I appointee, to be fair) wrote a scathing dissent, hinting that his colleagues are running interference for that evil organization. The status quo leaves voters unable to decide how their own state governments spend their money. It also keeps hundreds of millions in the coffers of a group founded on eugenics that still targets the poor.

So we find ourselves wondering: When Kavanaugh met with pro-choice Republican Senator Susan Collins, was she the one who got snookered? Or was it … all of us? The pro-life groups like Susan B. Anthony List, the pastors like Jerry Falwell, Jr., the voters like you and me. …

You see it around the world: Populist, conservative causes win at the voting booth. But somehow, their policies always get blocked by entrenched elites. British voters asked for Brexit. Their Prime Minister offers them … serfdom, second-class status in the EU with all the costs and none of the clout. She shrugs that it’s the best deal available. Everyone knows she’s lying, but populists are amateurs at grabbing and holding power, and they’re playing against the experts. And each time Charlie Brown gets really close to the football, whoosh! They sweep it away and sneer.

Two years of GOP control of both houses of Congress, and we saw zero progress on the issue that got Trump elected, immigration. Oh yes, and not one penny got stripped from Planned Parenthood’s budget.

Donald Trump gets elected. The Democrats ramp up a campaign of civic sabotage, trying to imprison half the members of his campaign on trumped-up charges. Meanwhile, the GOP operatives surrounding the President fill his staff with … Jeb Bush supporters and even vocal Never-Trumpers. Two years of GOP control of both houses of Congress, and we saw zero progress on the issue that got Trump elected, immigration. Oh yes, and not one penny got stripped from Planned Parenthood’s budget. Promises … schlepped, tossed down some damp back stairs, and quite forgotten. Like the voters who turned out (just barely enough) to stop Hillary Clinton. Can we count on them two years from now? Or will they just shrug and decide that the game is rigged?

The GOP Deep State

There’s a Deep State inside the GOP. And it has its own notion of patriotism, its custom-tailored vision of the Common Good. I learned that living in New York City during the days of David Dinkins. Back in my home town the Democrats went full-on crazy a long time ago. The explosion of socialism, open-borders mania, and inquisitorial “wokeness” that’s now running that party? We’ve faced that since the 1970s. And it had some healthy effects. There was no sane center-left in the Democratic party. Voters faced a stark choice at the polls between:

Democrats (cross-endorsed by the Liberal Party) whose policies would leave the subways and streets too dangerous to use, inflated welfare spending and ever higher taxes, with squeegee men harassing motorists, and abortionists prowling dumbed-down and dangerous public schools. … And:

Republicans (cross-endorsed by the Conservative and Right-to-Life parties), who opposed all these things. Who drew on the votes of working class Catholics in the outer boroughs (such as Queens, where I come from).

The left was so implacable, you faced a package deal. If you wanted the city to fund abortions, you also had to accept the felons urinating all over the subway platform. If you wanted to be safe getting to and from your job, you had to accept some version of social conservatism.

At Least the Stakes Were Clear

This stark choice had merit. It was honest about the nature of things. In the long run, if you accept the chaos and cruelty of the sexual revolution, you will have broken families. Hence crime in the streets. If you buy into broken borders, you will have a nation of splintered and angry tribes, demanding government money and racist quotas. If you think government tinkering can replace individual virtue (imposed by grim necessity), you will end up with a land full of sullen, servile subjects. And if you insist on repeating happy lies about Islam as a “religion of peace,” you will end up with thousands of terrorists and sharia activists in your cities.

But then some elite New Yorkers conferred and found a solution. “Centrist” Republicans! In mayors Rudolph Giuliani then Michael Bloomberg they located the “sweet spot.”

That’s where you put just enough of a Band-Aid on violence and dysfunction, that you can ignore its causes. You don’t give tax credits for Catholic schools. But you do fire the worst teachers inside the public ones. Maybe squeeze their unions a bit. You zone out the sex shops, so people have to find their porn online. (Of course, you do nothing to regulate that.) You keep on funding abortion, but you bust more of the kids who emerge from broken homes. And you keep order in the streets, to mask the howling chaos that’s taking over the homes. You imagine that you can let in just enough unskilled workers to keep wages low (and your stock prices high) without electing Democrats … at least, during your lifetime.

Would You Rather Be Slow-Cooked or Microwaved?

That’s the brand of Republican who has dominated the party since the end of the Reagan Administration. Year in, year out, Trump and NeverTrump. And now it appears it’s the kind of Republican we’re getting on the Court. The “sweet spot” elitists of the GOP Deep State count on us settling for it. And still turning out to vote because … well the Democrats are even worse, aren’t they?

In the long run, of course, there’s really no difference between getting boiled slowly or zapped in the microwave.


John Zmirak is a Senior Editor of The Stream, and author of the new Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism. He received his B.A. from Yale University in 1986, then his M.F.A. in screenwriting and fiction and his Ph.D. in English in 1996 from Louisiana State University. His focus was the English Renaissance, and the novels of Walker Percy. He taught composition at LSU and screenwriting at Tulane University, and has written screenplays for and with director Ronald Maxwell (Gods & Generals and Gettysburg). He was elected alternate delegate to the 1996 Republican Convention, representing Pat Buchanan.

He has been Press Secretary to pro-life Louisiana Governor Mike Foster, and a reporter and editor at Success magazine and Investor’s Business Daily, among other publications. His essays, poems, and other works have appeared in First Things, The Weekly Standard, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, USA Today, FrontPage Magazine, The American Conservative, The South Carolina Review, Modern Age, The Intercollegiate Review, Commonweal, and The National Catholic Register, among other venues. He has contributed to American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia and The Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought. From 2000-2004 he served as Senior Editor of Faith & Family magazine and a reporter at The National Catholic Register. During 2012 he was editor of Crisis.

He is author, co-author, or editor of twelve books, including Wilhelm Ropke: Swiss Localist, Global Economist, The Grand Inquisitor (graphic novel) and The Race to Save Our Century. He was editor of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s guide to higher education, Choosing the Right College and, for ten years, and is also editor of Disorientation: How to Go to College Without Losing Your Mind.