03 December 2004

More on resentment of the left

Continuing on the theme of Mark A.R. Kleiman's observation about how many Americans feel that the left has unfairly imposed its views on them, that I blogged about a little while ago, Ezra at Pandagon points to the strategic problems with liberal victories in the courts when the legislative battle is intractable.
... the Democratic Party's problems stem from the backlash of a century of victories based on judicial fiat instead of legislative victory. The latter requires dialogue, debate, coalition-building and enough successful persuasion that Congress feels electorally safe supporting the change (not to mention the legislative Crate and Barrel Rule: If you pass it, it's yours to defend); the former is a proclamation from on high, full of the authoritarian, elitist resonances that backlash politics requires.
I comforted myself with the thought that the Courts, the Courts would save us. With them, though, the cure is worse than the disease. In the last century, liberals have beaten racial bigotry, evangelical authoritarianism and sexual discrimination through the Courts. And now we're paying the price. And we'll keep paying until we realize that the question isn't how to win the culture battles --- we've spent the last 60 years using judges to rack up a damn impressive string of victories. The question, rather, is how to ensure that 50.1% of America cheers our victories, rather than feels they lost the game on the umpire's call.
The challenge here, of course, is that if we can't win an important point in the legislature, can and should we let it slide in the courts, in order to prevent this problem in public perception? The issues actually on the table and the inherent dangers of corrosion of Constitutional protections make this a scary proposition.

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