Conservative Judge Speaks Out

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Vēritās
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Conservative Judge Speaks Out

Post by Vēritās »

The following is a viral post from Heather Cox Richardson:
Of all we have heard at the hearings of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, Judge J. Michael Luttig’s testimony on Thursday stands out. Luttig is a leading conservative thinker, a giant in Republican legal circles, who worked in the Reagan administration, was appointed by President George H. W. Bush to a federal judgeship, and was on the short-list for a Supreme Court seat during President George W. Bush’s term. In January 2021, then–vice president Mike Pence’s staff turned to him for support to make sure Pence didn’t agree to count out electors; Luttig opposed the scheme absolutely.

Luttig’s words carry weight among Republican lawmakers.

On Thursday, Judge Luttig examined the ongoing danger to democracy and located it not just on former president Donald Trump and his enablers, but on the entire Republican Party of today, the party that embraces the Big Lie that Trump won the 2020 election, the party that continues to plan to overturn any election in which voters choose a Democrat.

“[T]he former president and his party are today a clear and present danger for American democracy,” Luttig reiterated to NPR’s All Things Considered.

And, as if in confirmation, delegates to a convention of the Texas Republican Party today approved platform planks rejecting “the certified results of the 2020 Presidential election, and [holding] that acting President Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was not legitimately elected by the people of the United States”; requiring students “to learn about the dignity of the preborn human,” including that life begins at fertilization; treating homosexuality as “an abnormal lifestyle choice”; locking the number of Supreme Court justices at 9; getting rid of the constitutional power to levy income taxes; abolishing the Federal Reserve; rejecting the Equal Rights Amendment; returning Christianity to schools and government; ending all gun safety measures; abolishing the Department of Education; arming teachers; requiring colleges to teach “free-market liberty principles”; defending capital punishment; dictating the ways in which the events at the Alamo are remembered; protecting Confederate monuments; ending gay marriage; withdrawing from the United Nations and the World Health Organization; and calling for a vote “for the people of Texas to determine whether or not the State of Texas should reassert its status as an independent nation.”

Luttig said that Republicans must start speaking to Democrats as ”fellow Americans that have a shared destiny and shared hopes and dreams for America.” “We cannot have in America either political party behaving itself like the Republican Party has since the 2020 election.”
I’ve been thinking a lot since Thursday of Luttig’s clear-eyed view of the dangers we face in this country today, and of his willingness to cast aside old political loyalties to call them out in order to protect our democracy. They remind me of nothing so much as Abraham Lincoln’s description of the way northerners reacted to the 1854 passage of a law permitting the spread of enslavement into western lands from which it had previously been excluded. The passage of that law woke up Americans who had not been paying attention, and convinced them to work across old political lines to stop oligarchs from destroying democracy. Northerners were “thunderstruck and stunned; and we reeled and fell in utter confusion. But we rose each fighting, grasping whatever he could first reach—a scythe—a pitchfork—a chopping axe, or a butcher's cleaver” to push back against the oligarchic enslavers, Lincoln later said. Regardless of where they started politically, they stood up for democracy together. And while they came from different parties, he said, they were “still Americans; no less devoted to the continued Union and prosperity of the country than heretofore.”
Over the course of the next decade, that new coalition argued and struggled and took the nation in an entirely new direction. It fought and won a war that involved more than two million men and cost more than $5 billion, established our first national money, welcomed immigrants, created public colleges, invented the income tax, gave farmers land, built transcontinental railroads, and—finally—ended human enslavement in the U.S. except as punishment for a crime for which a person had been duly convicted.

And, of course, it saved the nation from those seeking to destroy it.

“[T]o my knowledge, I’ve never spoken publicly a single word of politics,” Luttig told NPR about his extraordinary statements. In a later note he added: “I wanted to do this for America and I understood I had an obligation to do it for America. It was my ‘moment’ in my life to stand up, step forward, and bear witness to what I believe and what I do not believe.
This is a good summary of the threat the authoritarian wing of the Republican Party poses. Just read down and see the Texas Republican Party platform. Clearly they want a white Christian evangelical theocracy. It’s lunacy. It not the America I know or want. Nor is it what the majority want. A lost their mind minority is gaming the system.

The events that the ex president and his cronies perpetrated on the American people that culminated in the attack on the Capitol are a tremendous threat to our republic and to everyone’s freedoms and well being. Everyone should be concerned I think it’s time for Republican conservatives that have not lost their bloody mind to start a new party. Let the theocrats and the Trumpists go their own way. They really have lost their minds.
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Re: Conservative Judge Speaks Out

Post by honorentheos »

His articulate defense of democracy is refreshing.

I've often raised the question, on this board and elsewhere, what values or beliefs we Americans share that transcend party affiliation. The answer has always been dismal in it's rejection of the premise. That comes from people of all sides. Judge Luttig's comments seem to me to be a call to reaffirm what we should hold in common and rally around those things, central being the preservation of small "d" democracy.

The biggest challenge I see to it, though, is the rise of illiberalism across the board. Too many people have decided they know what is right with such certitude that democracy isn't inherently what people think is at stake when it comes down to the details. But in the face of blatant assault on democratic values by a determined and united body it's difficult to see how adherence to ones values can also lead to anything other than capitulation to those who no longer share them. That's depressing.
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Binger
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Re: Conservative Judge Speaks Out

Post by Binger »

Illiberalism is bad and liberalism is good? Is this your hard line?
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Re: Conservative Judge Speaks Out

Post by Doctor CamNC4Me »

Binger wrote:
Mon Jun 20, 2022 5:00 pm
Illiberalism is bad and liberalism is good? Is this your hard line?
Neoliberalism is good. Try to keep up.

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honorentheos
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Re: Conservative Judge Speaks Out

Post by honorentheos »

Binger wrote:
Mon Jun 20, 2022 5:00 pm
Illiberalism is bad and liberalism is good? Is this your hard line?
When describing democracies, yes, that is my position. I'd avoid the "good" and "bad" value-laden terminology but around here it is at a point it isn't worth the effort to explain why anymore. So sure.
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Re: Conservative Judge Speaks Out

Post by Morley »

Binger wrote:
Mon Jun 20, 2022 5:00 pm
Illiberalism is bad and liberalism is good? Is this your hard line?
Binger, since we're in serious discussion mode, where do you stand on the concept of liberal v. illiberal democracy? What's your hard line?
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Re: Conservative Judge Speaks Out

Post by Binger »

Morley wrote:
Tue Jun 21, 2022 1:35 am
Binger wrote:
Mon Jun 20, 2022 5:00 pm
Illiberalism is bad and liberalism is good? Is this your hard line?
Binger, since we're in serious discussion mode, where do you stand on the concept of liberal v. illiberal democracy? What's your hard line?
Sure. Start a new thread in prison.
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Re: Conservative Judge Speaks Out

Post by honorentheos »

I guess to make this a little more relevant to here, I think illiberalism isn't an inherently right wing vice even if it seems there isn't a viable conservative party in the US anymore.

Illiberalism manifests just as readily on the political left. It manifests on this board just as often by those opposed to the illiberal nationalism in the form of illiberal socialism. Though mostly it's just people who don't argue issues but rather people, and the ideology they side with is a team color more than a deeply held belief system. Malcontents often espouse illiberalism grafted onto one, the other, and even both depending on the topic and conspiracy that best fits their, "We'll show you who's deplorable," martyr'd majority complex of the moment.

I don't know where Cultellus was going with his question, but in the spirit of Western liberalism I'd rather he explain and defend that view than see it silenced. Who knows. Maybe a discussion might break out. Or it won't and it will just be a yap fest. I don't know that it matters on a message board anymore. It's all decayed at the edges and the bits are falling in on the gravity of reality anyway
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Re: Conservative Judge Speaks Out

Post by Morley »

While I usually don’t agree with them, I thought CATO had a piece on this that might serve as a starting point. (Any emphasis mine.)

https://www.cato.org/policy-report/janu ... liberalism

Liberals against Illiberalism

Liberty and liberalism are threatened by authoritarian populism on both right and left.

JANUARY/​FEBRUARY 2022 • POLICY REPORT

By David Boaz


“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

That line from The Princess Bride kept coming to mind as I encountered the word “liberal” in major newspapers recently. Consider these examples:

The Washington Post: “MIT’s decision reflected a distressing unwillingness to tolerate views that offend the liberal majority.” The Wall Street Journal: “Ms. Guy, a Democrat whose childhood in Cuba was steeped in ultraliberal politics.…” The New York Times: “Chileans on Sunday elected Gabriel Boric as their next president.… Boric will be the nation’s youngest leader and by far its most liberal since President Salvador Allende.”

Let’s review: Trying to stamp out diversity of opinions, especially in a university, is not a “liberal” idea. It’s a particularly illiberal approach. A country ruled by a dictator at the head of the Communist party‐​state is not experiencing “ultraliberal politics.” It’s experiencing totalitarianism. And a presidential candidate supported by the Communist Party, who wants to reverse Chile’s marketoriented policies, is unlikely to govern as a liberal.

What a long strange trip it’s been for the word liberal. It originally referred to generosity or to the “liberal arts” that were appropriate for free men in the era of serfdom. Daniel Klein of George Mason University finds that Scottish scholars such as Adam Smith and William Robertson began using it in the 1770s in such terms as “liberal policy,” “liberal ideas,” and “liberal principles.” He also argues that the Scots and the English used the term to refer to our natural rights and liberties, while on the continent of Europe it more often referred to “constitutional reform and political participation.”

The first application of the word liberal to a political group may have been in Spain around 1812, when the representatives of the middle class in the Spanish Cortes, or parliament, came to be called the Liberales. They contended with the Serviles (the servile ones), who represented the nobles and the absolute monarchy. The term Serviles, for those who advocate state power over individuals, unfortunately didn’t stick. But the word liberal, for the defenders of liberty and the rule of law, spread rapidly. The Whig Party in England came to be called the Liberal Party. Today we know the philosophy of John Locke, Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson, and John Stuart Mill as liberalism.

That liberalism was, as Britannica defines it, a “political doctrine that takes protecting and enhancing the freedom of the individual to be the central problem of politics.” It’s a philosophy of individual rights, free markets, and limited, constitutional government.

But around 1900 the term liberal underwent a change. Liberalism came to mean a policy of activist government, theoretically to help the poor and the middle class through progressive taxes, transfer programs, and regulation. The economist Joseph Schumpeter noted, “As a supreme, if unintended, compliment, the enemies of private enterprise have thought it wise to appropriate its label.” The old liberalism came to be known as classical liberalism or libertarianism.

Outside the United States, even American journalists understand the traditional meaning of liberal. In 1992 a Washington Post story datelined Moscow reported that “liberal economists have criticized the government for failing to move quickly enough with structural reforms and for allowing money‐​losing state factories to continue churning out goods that nobody needs.”

In countries around the world liberty and liberalism are threatened by authoritarian populism on both right and left. And here in the United States the Republican Party is increasingly focused on nationalism, protectionism, and using state power to hurt its enemies, while on the left there are increasingly open socialists and an increasing illiberal attitude toward free speech and dissenting ideas. In that environment, as Andy Craig wrote recently at Lib​er​tar​i​an​ism​.org, it makes sense for libertarians to recognize our connections with our “cousins” in the liberal family who “share a commitment to certain fundamental rights—personal, procedural, and political guarantees—which are above and beyond the give and take of more mundane policy agendas.” That might include Buckley‐​Reagan conservatives, free‐​speech liberals, and all the people who are fiscally conservative and socially tolerant, who appreciate the benefits of capitalism as well as the benefits of openness and diversity.

“Liberals against illiberalism,” that’s the ticket.

….


Edit to add:

Though for significantly more depth, I think the best writing on this subject comes from Marlène Laruelle, at George Washington University. Her thoughts are easily googled.
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Re: Conservative Judge Speaks Out

Post by Moksha »

Binger wrote:
Mon Jun 20, 2022 5:00 pm
Illiberalism is bad and liberalism is good? Is this your hard line?
The Judge realizes that Trump morphing the Republican Party into a vehicle for fascism is an abandonment of American democracy. He views Trumpism as an evil that must be opposed.
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