The possibility that Donald Trump might win the presidency has set off high decibels of hysteria among the political establishment, and no more so than in blue California. Despite an historic level of unpopularity in California, it is quite possible Trump could be elected. The media and political establishment are already musing about what it would do if that happened.
Take for instance the California reaction of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s political attack on Trump. “I can’t imagine what this place would be — I can’t imagine what the country would be — with Donald Trump as our president,” she told the New York Times.
This is not some alderman for the 3rd district speaking; this is a Supreme Court justice, one ninth of one third of the government of the United States. Ginsburg’s remarks were so unethical and out of line and she was forced to apologize a few days later.
But that was not the view in California. Two of the state’s leading newspapers ran opinion pieces congratulating Justice Ginsburg for her foray into partisan politics. Shawn Hubler, an editorial writer for the Sacramento Bee, justified Ginsburg’s remarks as a brave jurist speaking out against the next coming of Hitler. “I see in Ginsburg a brilliant jurist who, as an American Jew born in 1933, saw what happens when good people don’t question the rise of a bigoted, authoritarian mindset. I believe she strategically shared her concern because the threat of someone such as Trump taking over the White House is so grave that silence would be the worse option.”
Hubler’s opinions reflect the general left wing view of Trump as a reincarnated Hitler. But similar thoughts were echoed in the Los Angeles Times by Erwin Chemerinsky, who ought to know better since he is the dean of the UC Irvine School of Law.
“Ginsburg is 83 years old and has seen in her lifetime the great damage that can be done by a demagogic candidate who professes extreme nationalism and peddles unsubtle racist and anti-Semitic messages. Ginsburg knows that too often bad things happen because — as the saying goes — good people do nothing. She knew she had a platform and she used it.”
Was there any criticism of Chemerinsky either among the California political class or the University of California for his call that Ginsburg in effect violate her oath to impartially apply the law when it comes to Trump? Not a word. To its credit, the Los Angeles Times did print an editorial calling Ginsburg’s conduct “injudicious,” although in effect blaming it on Trump himself. “So why was Ginsburg so indiscreet in her comments about Trump? The most plausible explanation seems to be that Trump, a uniquely offensive candidate, brought out the worst in the justice. Call it Trump Derangement Syndrome,” the Times wrote.
Chemerinsky and others are in effect calling on Ginsburg and the courts to use their power to thwart Trump’s presidency even if the people foolishly elect him. But the Los Angeles Times did them one better by publishing an opinion editorial by one James Kirchick calling for a military coup if Trump is elected. ““Trump is not only patently unfit to be president, but a danger to America and the world. Voters must stop him before the military has to.”
Kirchick, a senior fellow with the liberal Foreign Policy Initiative, all but called on the American military to do what the Turkish military just tried, a military coup. “Americans viewing the recent failed coup attempt in Turkey as some exotic foreign news story … should pause to consider that the prospect of similar instability would not be unfathomable in this country if Donald Trump were to win the presidency.”
Ever since President Truman fired General Douglas MacArthur for insubordination in the midst of the Korean War, the supremacy of the civilian leadership over the military has been a hallmark of American democracy, just as the impartial application of the rule of law has buttressed our judicial system.
That two of California’s leading newspapers would entertain the idea that these bedrocks of our democracy should be jettisoned to stop Trump shows what is really extreme in this polarized political year. And it is not the buffoonish Mr. Trump but rather the hysteria that seems to surround the thought that he just might be the next president.