Martin Longman brought my attention to something interesting in a brief post yesterday, The 50’s Called: They Want Bobby Jindal Back. After last week’s three moderate (the Supreme Court doesn’t do “liberal”) decisions on housing, marriage, and Obamacare, Jindal was beside himself. He told The Advocate in Louisiana, “The Supreme Court is completely out of control, making laws on their own, and has become a public opinion poll instead of a judicial body. If we want to save some money lets just get rid of the Court.” Longman responded, “Over here on the left side of the aisle, we’ve been increasingly frustrated with the decision making of the Supreme Court, from Bush v Gore to the evisceration of the Voting Rights Act, but you don’t see any of our governors or presidential candidates calling for the abolishment of the entire Court.”
But this is what has become to the conservative movement in this country. It really is best to see it like an authoritarian movement. There is no thought to consistency. Their ideology is one of results: how do we keep power so that we can continue to enrich ourselves. So it is nonsense to imagine that Bobby Jindal actually believes in anything coherent. Whatever furthers the cause of the conservative movement is good. This week, the Supreme Court was bad for the conservative movement so abolish it.
To some extent, you could say the same thing about ideological coherence about liberals. The big difference is that liberals are not shortsighted. They aren’t willing to destroy democracy in order to “save” it. But when listening to someone like Jindal, I’m reminded of how the Nazis used the democratic system until they had power and then abolished it. Is this what Jindal would do? It’s hard to say. We’ve already seen plenty of Republicans pushing for laws designed to make voting harder. And now they are going after “one person: one vote.” Regardless, the impulse is there.
This “destroy the Supreme Court” impulse isn’t the only one. There is also the “destroy the IRS” impulse. It’s curious. Destroying the IRS would be the same as destroying the government. It just sounds better. It’s kind of like the Walmart CEO saying, “Let’s stop charging people for stuff.” That decision has ramifications — namely, that Walmart would go out of business. But conservatives change what they want to destroy from day to day. For example, Jindal is afraid that the Supreme Court is getting too democratic — having “become a public opinion poll.” But conservatives make populist arguments all the time against Court decisions they don’t like. If they don’t like a Supreme Court decision, it is either that the Court is wrong because it is just following public opinion, or it is wrong because it is going against the will of the people. Reasonable people can’t have it both ways. But Republicans can!
A lot of people have talked about the Republicans being post-truth. It’s actually worse than that. They are post-meaning. And post-planning. If they took the Marshmallow Challenge, they wouldn’t even wait until the proctor was out of the room before eating it. They are the party of the haves who think it is due to their own greatness. As Ann Richards said about George HW Bush, “He was born on third base and thought he hit a triple.” So whatever offers the easiest way to their goals, they follow it. You know, it’s called our bad luck.
That last sentence was a reference to this song: