The Death of RBG Vindicates My Vote for Trump

Many Republicans, like myself, did not at first jump on the Trump bandwagon in 2015 and 2016. We feared, and not without reason, that Trump would lead the GOP to perdition — and, what’s almost as bad, defeat. A vote for Trump would thus help elect Hillary Clinton.

Not for the first or last time, I was wrong in 2016. I gradually came to realize this. I warmed to Trump, and in the end I voted for him — proudly and without a moment’s hesitation. Many Republicans took the same journey as me.

Why did I plunk for Trump? I did so not because I thought he would win any awards for congeniality. We are all aware that Trump is, to say the least, mortal. He has character flaws. He makes mistakes. He doesn’t always understand the niceties of conventional politics.

Above all, though, I and millions of Americans like me voted for Trump for one simple reason: the barbarians were at the gates, and only Trump could save us, and America, from their ravages.

Liberals — you are the barbarians in this little analogy. Try to keep up.

Simply put, had Hillary Clinton won in 2016, she would have chosen the replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. The balance on the Court would have shifted decisively to the left. The Supreme Court, therefore, which Republicans already view warily, even with a “conservative” majority, would have become far more activist, far more aggressive, and far more beholden to left-wing ideology.

Any conservative can tell you that a Republican-appointed judge or justice is only occasionally a reliable supporter of conservative, constitutionalist principles. A Democrat-appointed judge or justice, on the other hand, is a supporter of “progressive” causes, and the narrow interests of the Democratic Party, 100 percent of the time.

Thus, a liberal majority on the Supreme Court would have guaranteed, in this hyper-partisan era, that conservatives would never again receive a sympathetic hearing there. Anything that the Left wanted would have been approved by judicial fiat. Even the integrity of future elections, which Republicans and conservatives might or might not win, would have been jeopardized, because a liberal Court would simply throw out results that didn’t accord with their wishes.

This, then, was the judicial apocalypse that we conservative patriots believed we were facing in 2016. As it turned out, only one man could save us, and our beloved Constitution, from the coming cataclysm: Donald Trump.

I therefore voted for Trump, in the fervent hope that he would win. I hoped, if he won, that he would build the Wall, fight for trade fairness, reduce regulation, keep us out of pointless regime change wars, and much more. I hoped for these things, but I knew that Trump would appoint new justices to the Supreme Court that would be a thousand times better than the reliable progressives and social justice warriors that Hillary would surely name to the bench.

And so he has.

Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh might not vote all the time the way conservatives would like them to, but they have not corrupted our democracy, they have not shamed the judiciary with legal sophistry, and they have not legislated from the bench.

What’s more, if Democrats cheat in the 2020 election, or in the counting of votes that follows, we can safely assume that a mostly conservative Court will hold them accountable for it. That gives a conservative like me peace of mind.

The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, therefore, confirms that my choice to vote for Donald Trump in 2016 was right — even righter than I realized at the time.

For, not only will President Trump hold left-wing judicial activism at bay; he is in a position to tilt SCOTUS even further to the right, further perhaps than at any time in the last century.

For those of us who believe that liberal justices have already taken us much too far down the path of “reimagining” our Constitution, the opportunity to return to first principles, to limit the growth of federal power, to curb judicial activism, and to return many rights and powers to the states and to the people, is like a dream come true.

President Trump, therefore, has exceeded the expectations of many of us who voted for him. That will sound incredible to progressives, but it is the truth.

Democrats and liberals, you see a president and a Senate preparing to dash your dream of a judicially-mandated forced march to the sunlit uplands of a neo-Marxist utopia. We Republicans and conservatives see a president and a Senate about to reverse much of the damage you’ve already done to the country we so love, and about to reaffirm the Constitution, rather your wild fantasies and rigid ideology, as the law of the land.

Thank you, President Trump, for doing what We the People elected you to do.

I look forward to your nomination of an outstanding new Justice of the Supreme Court.

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The Supreme Court Vacancy After Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Death: Live Updates – The New York Times

Mr. Trump, who rolled out a new list of possible Supreme Court picks last week before there was a vacancy, seized the political initiative early Saturday, issuing a thinly veiled warning to any Republicans thinking about delaying a vote until after the November election.

The president rejected suggestions that he should wait to let the winner of the Nov. 3 contest fill the vacancy, much as Mr. McConnell insisted four years ago in blocking President Barack Obama from filling an election-year vacancy on the court.

“We won and we have an obligation as the winners to pick who we want,” Mr. Trump said. “That’s not the next president. Hopefully, I’ll be the next president. But we’re here now, right now, we’re here, and we have an obligation to the voters, all of the people, the millions of people who put us here.”

For the Biden team, the death of Justice Ginsburg represents a challenge of a different sort.

As Shane Goldmacher, Katie Glueck and Thomas Kaplan report, Joseph R. Biden Jr. has spent months condemning President Trump as a failed steward of the nation’s well-being, relentlessly framing the 2020 election as a referendum on the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, confronted with a moment that many believe will upend the 2020 election, the Biden campaign is sticking to what it believes is a winning strategy. Campaign aides said on Saturday they would seek to link the Supreme Court vacancy to the health emergency gripping the country and the future of health care in America.

While confirmation fights have long centered on hot-button cultural divides like guns and especially abortion, the Biden campaign, at least at the start, plans to focus chiefly on protecting the Affordable Care Act and its popular guarantee of coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.

“Americans re-elected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary,” Mr. McConnell said in a statement on Friday night. “Once again, we will keep our promise. President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”

The more moderate Republican senators are a small group, and it is not clear whether they could control enough votes to block Mr. Trump’s nominee. Republicans have 53 votes in the Senate to the Democrats’ 47, and Vice President Mike Pence is allowed to break any ties.

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Facebook wants to know how it’s shaping the 2020 elections — researchers say it’s looking too late and in the wrong places (FB)

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Facebook was first warned in late 2015 that Cambridge Analytica was misusing data illicitly harvested from millions of Americans in an attempt to sway the 2016 US elections.

It didn’t pull the plug on the firm’s access to user data until March 2018 after reporting from The Guardian turned the breach into a global scandal.

More than two years later — and barely two months before the deadline for votes to cast their ballots in the 2020 elections — Facebook has decided it wants to know more about how it impacts democracy, announcing last week that it would partner with 17 researchers to study the impact of Facebook and Instagram on voters’ attitudes and actions.

But researchers outside of the project are conflicted. While they praised Facebook for promising to ensure more transparency and independence than it has before, they also questioned why the company waited so long and just how much this study will really bring to light.

“Isn’t this a little bit too late?” Fadi Quran, a campaign director with nonprofit research group Avaaz, told Business Insider.

“Facebook has known now for a long time that there’s election interference, that malicious actors are using the platform to influence voters,” he said. “Why is this only happening now at such a late stage?” 

Facebook said it doesn’t “expect to publish any findings until mid-2021 at the earliest.” The company did not reply to a request for comment on this story.

Since the company is leaving it to the research team to decide which questions to ask and draw their own conclusions — a good thing — we don’t yet know much about what they hope to learn. In its initial announcement, Facebook said it’s curious about: “whether social media makes us more polarized as a society, or if it largely reflects the divisions that already exist; if it helps people to become better informed about politics, or less; or if it affects people’s attitudes towards government and democracy, including whether and how they vote.”

Facebook executives have reportedly known the answer to that first question — that the company’s algorithms do help polarize and radicalize people — and that they knowingly shut down efforts to fix the issue or even research it more.

But even setting that aside, researchers say they’ve already identified some potential shortcomings in the study.

“A lot of the focus of this work is very much about how honest players are using these systems,” Laura Edelson, a researcher who studies political ads and misinformation at New York University, told Business Insider.

“Where I’m concerned is that they’re almost exclusively not looking at the ways that things are going wrong, and that’s where I wish this was going further,” she added.

Quran echoed that assessment, saying: “One big thing that they’re going to miss by not looking more deeply at these malicious actors, and just by the design, is the scale of content that’s been created by these actors and that’s influencing public opinion.”

A long list of research and media reports have documented Facebook’s struggles to effectively keep political misinformation off its platform — let alone misleading health claims, which despite Facebook’s more aggressive approach, still racked up four times as many views as posts from sites pushing accurate information, according to Avaaz. 

But political information is much more nuanced and constantly evolving, and even in what seem to be clear-cut cases, Facebook has, according to reports, at times incorrectly enforced its own policies or bent over backward to avoid possible political backlash.

Quran and Edelson both worried that Facebook’s election study may not capture the full impact of aspects of the platform like its algorithms, billions of fake accounts, or private groups.

“You find what you go and you look for,” Edelson said. “The great problem of elections on Facebook is not how the honest actors are working within the system.”

Quran also said, though it’s too early say this will happen for sure, that because it’s Facebook asking users directly within their apps to join the study, sometimes in exchange for payment, it risks inadvertently screening out people who are distrustful of the company to begin with.

“We’re already seeing posts on different groups that share disinformation telling people: ‘Don’t participate in the study, this is a Facebook conspiracy'” to spy on users or keep Republicans off the platform ahead of the election, he said. “What this could lead to, potentially, is that the people most impacted by disinformation are not even part of the study.”

In a best-case scenario, Edelson said the researchers could learn valuable information about how our existing understanding of elections maps onto the digital world. Quran said the study could even serve as an “information ecosystem impact assessment,” similar to environmental impact studies, that would help Facebook understand how changes it could make might impact the democratic process.

But both were skeptical that Facebook would make major changes based on this study or the 2020 elections more broadly. And Quran warned that, despite Facebook’s efforts to make the study independent, people shouldn’t take the study as definitive or allow it to become a “stamp of approval.”

It took Facebook nearly four years from when it learned about Cambridge Analytica to identify the tens of thousands of apps that were also misusing data. And though it just published the results of its first independent civil rights audit, the company has made few commitments to implement any of the auditors’ recommendations.

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