Progressive groups are certainly finding ways to keep themselves busy ever since their disastrous performance in the last election. One method of killing time is to take a break from their relentless attacks on the new president and form up the old circular firing squad to go after members of their own party. The new hotness on this front is an attempt to block the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court by threatening any vulnerable Democratic Senators who may be considering either voting for him or at least voting for cloture when his nomination is considered. A few groups in particular have begun notifying the Senators that if they fail to hold the line they may find themselves out of a job when primary season rolls around next year. (The Hill)
Left-leaning groups are sending a stern message to Democrats who consider backing President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court: Do it and risk a primary challenge in 2018.
Liberal activists say Senate Democrats are not doing enough to focus the public’s attention on Neil Gorsuch, a conservative judge who has attracted praise from both sides of the aisle.
“A Democrat that votes for cloture on Gorsuch is a Democrat voting to overturn Roe,” said Heidi Hess, senior campaign manager at Credo Action, a liberal advocacy group with an email network of 5 million people, referring to the landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, which established a woman’s right to an abortion.
“This is absolutely a fight they should be fighting and that we will hold them accountable if they don’t fight it,” she said.
In some ways this is almost enough to make you feel bad for Joe Manchin and his colleagues who are on the bubble. They certainly want to cater to the interests of their base, but at the same time they don’t have much in the way of options. What is it that these activists actually expect them to do? There simply aren’t enough Democratic votes to deny Gorsuch his seat outright so the best they could hope for is to tie up the process via filibuster. But they also know at the same time that Mitch McConnell is sitting there with an itchy trigger finger just waiting to invoke the nuclear option. Once that happens, all bets are off.
There has been a slow but steady shift in the composition of the Senate over the past couple of decades. While Democrats maintain a healthy lead in the general population of the country, the reality is that their numbers are heavily congregated in a few major population centers on the coasts. Due to the constitutionally mandated makeup of the Senate, the total number of states leaning in a more conservative direction outnumber them and look as if they will continue to do so for some time to come. If they force McConnell’s hand and let the nuclear option genie out of the bottle it’s going to make for hard times for Democrats down the road.
The other aspect of this story which these liberal groups don’t seem to be taking into account is that some of those seats are fairly marginal for them to begin with. People like Manchin manage to get elected with a D after their name precisely because they were considerably more moderate and even adopted a few conservative leaning positions in some cases. If they do somehow manage to put up a fire breathing liberal and sweep to victory in the primary they may just lose the seat entirely. It would only take a bit more than half a dozen such efforts to hand the Republicans an outright supermajority in the upper chamber. At that point, the Democrats may as well just go home.
It’s also worth remembering that all of this effort is being expended to try to block the nomination of one of the most qualified Supreme Court candidates to come along in quite some time. For some additional reading on that subject, please see this article by Alexandra Desanctis at National Review titled The Left’s Smear of Gorsuch. It really is a shame that the partisan food fights have degenerated to this level.