Watching former prosecutor and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Jeff Sessions (R-AL) cross-examine Elena Kagan, President Barak Obama’s nominee to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter, I was reminded of the familiar adage that:
"If you aren’t a liberal at age 20, you have no heart; and if you aren’t a conservative at 40, you have no brain."
The senator asked the current Solicitor General of the United States, former aide to President Clinton, and lifetime political activist if she considered herself to be a “progressive”, and the former President of Harvard claimed she “wasn’t sure how she would describe herself politically”.
To be (a progressive) or not to be (a liberal)
How sad for a person chosen to wield virtually un-checked government power based on her life’s work, to then feel compelled to deny that life for fear she would be denied the job?
Actually, I (pictured) think I almost know how sad it is, having served as an activist and officer in the Democratic Party in South Carolina for more than 15 years before my 2000 conservative epiphany.
My young heart grew up thinking Democrats cared most for the poor, the weak, racial minorities and working people. My Democratic Party heroes were John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter and Jesse Jackson. I was a proud liberal, at first.
Then the the reality muggings began
Reagan’s victory over Carter broke my teen heart but, unlike then college student Kagan, I didn’t write an unidentified-as-a-hoax story in a newspaper on the eve of the 1980 presidential election describing the murder of the Republican President-Elect and the swearing in of George H.W. Bush eight years early.
Instead, I took note of Iranians so fearful that they released the hostages. I guess the mullahs figured Reagan cared more about the oppressed than his Democrat predecessor. I sadly denounced young Democrats that laughed at Reagan for calling the Soviet Union, the “evil empire.”
Something smells rotten and it ain’t in Denmark
I started to smell something rotten in the world’s oldest party, as I saw the economic principles I was learning in college raise the standard of living of working people and the poor in my hometown.
Reagan’s tax cuts had worked and had been passed with many “boll weevil” Southern Democrat votes. But to my chagrin, the focus of most Democrats was not on the improved lot of the poor and middle class and the policies that led to prosperity. Rather, they denounced tax “giveaways” to the rich.
Still loyal to the party but in political denial, I held my nose for Dukakis and started listening to Rush. Then came Bill Clinton and his centrist views. I declared myself not a Democrat, but only a “Clinton Democrat.” I could loathe Ted Kennedy and Jim Wright, but still stay in the party that “really cared.”
Meanwhile, the author of the fictional death of the Gipper, after Knute Rockne was All-American, but before John Hinckley, Jr. tried to make it real; went to work for President Bill Clinton where the progressive convinced him to keep partial-birth abortion legal but failed to stop him from signing the Defense of Marriage Act.
Still wanting to eat my cake and have it too, I remained pro-choice throughout the Clinton years, but always scoffed at the liberal notion of not knowing when life begins. I knew and I knew that they knew. Add to that the PC lies Democrats had to abide about poverty pimps, motives of domestic corporations and foreign dictators, and especially the meaning of words in the Constitution, and this liberal trial lawyer’s reality mugging escalated.
Elena Kagan and yours truly both went to law school and came out favoring the mainstream judicial philosophy of the Constitution as a “living” document. We were liberals and we wanted judges to reach the desired liberal result. We wanted them to do what was “right” so that society could progress.
In fact, Senator Sessions cited some of Kagan’s closest legal and political colleagues on this matter, all of whom affirmed her as a “legal” or “judicial” progressive.
You see they aren’t being nominated to serve in our Third Branch of government. When you are so nominated, you may be confused about your own political views, but you certainly aren’t one of those legal liberals that think judges can change the Constitution’s meaning to do what’s right.
The mask slips
Sessions later asks the nominee if there are more than the two ways of passing Amendments actually in the Constitution, to change the Constitution. I knew he had her, and was damn proud of her, when she simply could not repress the pride she felt in her Warren Court heroes when she claimed that the school desegregation decision in Brown v Board of Education reversed the Plessey “separate but equal” doctrine which had accurately followed the “intent of the framers of the 14th Amendment.”
You go girl! Be proud of your progressive heroes.
No matter that the 14th Amendment was passed in 1865, well before there were school systems for freed slaves for Congress to have considered, but at least you didn’t deny your principles every time before the cock crowed. By gosh, it was liberal judges that made this country do right, not super-majorities of the great un-washed ratifying their precious Constitution.
I know how Kagan feels because, while in law school and many years thereafter as a trial lawyer, I always knew that Roe v. Wade and many other landmark cases were only fictionally based upon the world’s oldest governing document. I always has a hard time justifying much of judge-made “constitutional law” with a straight face. But for a long time I didn’t care because I was one of the smart and the elite that cared the most about people. We liberals knew best. We usually ended most arguments with, “and besides, that’s what’s fair.”
I soon learned that the Fair only came in October and that our forefathers rightly fought a war eschewing rule by men in favor of the prosperity-producing rule of law.
I turned 40.
I could no longer abide the lies holding together a Party and a philosophy solely for the purpose of being thought of as caring more than the other party, and that for the sole purpose of having “our side” wield power.
Kagan knows the real meaning of words and, by her Brown pronouncements at her nomination hearing, admits she has no problem with judges ignoring the real meaning of the words in the document to which she must pledge an Oath if confirmed.
I had come to see the wisdom of government by We the People, rather than by a King or five lawyers. I had come to see that private property rights, less government, and a rule of law that doesn’t change at the whim of powerful men had produced the City on a Hill that I loved.
I left the progressives because caring for the poor and weak required favoring policies that produced good results, rather than policies that kept more people poor to admire my caring.
It’s good to be King, but what about the clothes?
Kagan’s journey, on the other hand, much resembles that of Barack Obama, who, several years before running for President, trashed the Framers for the mere “negative liberties” in the “fundamentally flawed” document; and trashed the liberal Warren Court as not liberal enough for not re-interpreting the Constitution as declaring what government must do “on our behalf.”
After running for President while also running from his progressive past, he now nominates justices that meet his standard for empathy, not the rule of law.
Kagan, Obama and the progressive left that control the press, academia, Hollywood and our government, have never gotten over their conceit and spend much energy each day trying to hide that conceit lest the majority cop wise to their true motives.
I could not live that way and it is hard to this day to describe what a feeling of liberation I experienced the day I gave up trying to be a Democrat and declared myself to be a conservative. No longer would I have to think carefully about expressing my true views lest I offend a group in the Democratic hierarchy for whom mutual deceit holds the whole organization together.
I left the stage of King Lear gone nudist colony mad.
Kagan was a proud liberal, progressive Democrat when she advocated the banning of books despite that pesky document’s demand that Congress “make no law…abridging the freedom of speech”.
But she’s not a judicial progressive defined as favoring judge-made changes in the law?
I’m thinking she takes off her conservative clothes as soon as she’s handed an Associate Justice’s robe and returns to the set of King Lear.
Cross-posted at 73Wire
“One man with courage makes a majority.” – Andrew Jackson