Home / General / The “why are Democrats creating a precedent that will allow Republicans to do what they’ve already done and will continue to try irrespective of what Democrats do” fallacy

The “why are Democrats creating a precedent that will allow Republicans to do what they’ve already done and will continue to try irrespective of what Democrats do” fallacy

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Michelle Goldberg points out the most obvious problem with the assertion that prosecuting lifelong criminal Donald Trump for some of his crimes will create a BAD PRECEDENT that will boomerang on Democrats:

Speaking to the Fox hosts, Trump denied saying the words that were the refrain to his first presidential campaign: “I didn’t say, ‘Lock her up.’” That is, of course, a preposterous lie, the kind that demonstrates Trump’s strongman ability to get his followers to accept absurdities. And “lock her up,” it’s important to remember, was never just rhetoric. As the Mueller report revealed, Trump demanded that his first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, who’d recused himself from investigations involving the 2016 campaign, go after Clinton. “According to Sessions, the President asked him to reverse his recusal so that Sessions could direct the Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute Hillary Clinton,” the Mueller report said. Eventually, attempting to placate his boss, Sessions tapped U.S. Attorney John Huber of Utah to probe the right’s allegations about the Clinton Foundation, but Huber came up empty.

[…]

The point here is not that Trump and his lackeys are lying about his record; it would be more newsworthy if they weren’t. What’s important is that Trump has already tried to use the power of the presidency to harass his enemies, and his allies have since identified the choke points in the system that previously thwarted him. As Reuters reported, people close to Trump have a two-part plan to “turn the nation’s top law enforcement body into an attack dog for conservative causes.” First, they want to flood the Department of Justice “with stalwart conservatives unlikely to say ‘no’ to controversial orders from the White House.” Then they want to restructure it “so key decisions are concentrated in the hands of administration loyalists rather than career bureaucrats.”

Republican caterwauling about Trump’s felony convictions provides rhetorical cover for this planned transformation of America’s justice system by making it seem like that transformation has already been accomplished by Democrats. On Thursday, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, a potential Trump vice president, said that Democrats “have crossed the line in which now the court system is a political weapon, and it’s going to be very hard for it not to come back the other way.” In other words, whatever abuses Trump’s foes are subject to in a Trump restoration will be nothing but well-earned comeuppance. By projecting the authoritarian aggression of their movement onto others, Republicans absolve themselves. It’s the mantra of abusers everywhere: “Look what you made me do.”

Given that this is such transparent, self-serving high school bully nonsense, it’s amazing how much traction these arguments can get. My “favorite” example is the idea that Democrats committed a grave error when they eliminated the filibuster for most executive and judicial appointments because this “allowed” Mitch McConnell to eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations. Of course, you would have to be brain dead to think that there are any circumstances under which McConnell would allow a Democratic minority to hold a Supreme Court seat vacant for four years, so the only thing refusing to use the nuclear option would have done is to also give Republicans quick control of the D.C. Circuit. Republicans have never needed permission to do anything; the only question is whether Democrats want to unilaterally disarm or not.

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