It has long been a truism that justice and public policy built on a foundation of emotion become a threat to our very way of life. Altering the law based on the most overheated passions and impulsive demands of the day never ends well. And doing so based on claims of false virtue makes the problem far worse. And yet, nearly all the solutions to problems identified by the Democratic Party these days are based on those twin – and equally illegitimate – rationales.
With Minneapolis and the nation bracing for impact in the trial and verdict to come in the killing of George Floyd, the overwrought emotion and hyperinflated, self-declared virtue of the progressive left has already been on display for all the world to see. Almost ten months after the event, and just as jury selection began, the far-left Minneapolis City Council delivered a $27 million payday from the taxpayers to the Floyd family. This could only be for one of two reasons: an attempt to sway the eventual jury or gross ignorance of the fact that it would do exactly that.
But that’s hardly the end of it. Far-left Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, an open supporter of Antifa, stacked the deck further. As described by LN Legal Affairs Editor Scott D. Cosenza, “Mr. Ellison, who is not highly regarded as a homicide prosecutor, went out and hired a Minnesota dream team to make sure Chauvin gets convicted.” Never mind if evidence demonstrates something other than a flat-out murder by Officer Derek Chauvin. A not guilty verdict cannot be allowed to happen, so we will import an OJ-style legal team to make absolutely sure – as if Officer Derek Chauvin is not already the most reviled man in America.
Then there is the matter of mass shootings and gun-related tragedies. The response on the left, as always, is to stand on the soapbox, indignant at the shame of it all – as if everyone else is not – and vow to “do something” to make sure it doesn’t happen again – as if it somehow won’t. Then they demand all manner of new restrictions on the constitutional right to self-protection – as if they are not actually penalizing law-abiding citizens and more laws will dissuade criminals from plying their trade.
When we witness tragedies of the sort recently seen in Atlanta and Boulder, why is it necessary for leftists to cry themselves a river – and immediately ascribe the worst possible motive to the perpetrator, and every demographic group with which he is even loosely associated? People on the right generally prefer to simply express their sorrow for the victims and their families, apparently unconvinced that people require a lecture on how virtuous they really are.
And these leftists preach as if they have anywhere near the moral standing to signal their dubious virtue in the first place, apparently ignorant of an approval rating among the governed often running neck-and-neck with that of used-car salesmen. In doing so, they demonstrate a startling lack of self-awareness that is endemic to these politicians. It’s as if they are the only ones who don’t realize the shockingly low regard in which they are held by everyday Americans. Of course, this cluelessness is not unique to the left. For example, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) himself seems to be the only one who can’t see that his emotionally supercharged hatred for Donald Trump is so obviously a result of flat-out jealousy. He lost for president when he thought he should have won, and Trump won when he should have lost. But Sen. Romney surrounds his jealous rage with a bonnet of self-declared virtue, thinking he has fooled people when he clearly has not.
When it comes to climate change, the left employs the most emotionally crippling, doom-mongering data, the most hysterical predictions from climate alarmists, in an attempt to grind the gears of industry to a virtual halt. We’re all dying. The Earth will melt or freeze or otherwise come apart in (fill in the blank) years. We must conquer the climate – as if we can. We need to place crushing regulations on fossil fuel producers to do our part to reverse the cataclysm – as if the other 195 countries of the world stand ready and willing to follow suit and shut down their own industries because of the wonderful moral example set by the U.S.
Claims that some people of color have encountered problems with voter registration leads to the emotional demand that casting a ballot become as easy as possible, essentially automatic. Witness HR. 1, the House-passed bill, which further expands the voting “rights” that resulted in unheard-of turnout in 2020. It matters not whether people demonstrate even a passing interest in their civic duty once every four years and show zero initiative to exercise a franchise won with rivers of blood and treasure. Thus, the answer – fueled by the virtue-signaling opposition to the naked racism of Republicans presented by much of the elite media as fact – is essentially to just let everyone vote, no questions asked – as if the result would be anywhere near a true reflection of the will of the people.
Conservatives writ large – and, of course, Trump in particular – have been labeled everything from racist to evil these last years – as if the Democratic Party itself possesses a detectable level of actual virtue. And as if leftists’ extreme emotional response to every controversial issue represents sound policy.
We can be all but certain of what will happen if Democrats manage to flip their precious few senators opposed to ending the Senate filibuster, the only remaining protection for political minorities. We will see explosively controversial laws akin to the virtue- and emotion-fueled prohibition on the sale of alcoholic beverages a century ago. And we all know how that turned out.
Read more from Tim Donner.