One of the consequences of partisanship is that it insulates the partisan from the rest of the world to the extent that their reality is deranged. They only know what the others in their group know and that is limited to what is best for the group. Civic nationalists decry partisanship for this reason. It makes objective truth impossible. Radicals, of course, embrace partisanship because they reject objective truth. It is why modern radicals literally speak of their truth.
The funny thing about partisanship is both sides are correct. Politics is about friends and enemies, which leaves little room for objectivity. In politics you want to advance your interests or the interests of your side. That often means doing so at the expense of those viewed as enemies. If the facts say you should yield in deference to your opponent, then you have no choice but to reject the facts. Otherwise, you lose and that undermines the point of politics.
The reality of politics in a participatory system is that the winners and those with some chance to win must be partisans and reject objective truth. The outsiders, those seeking to crack the nut of the political dynamic, must embrace what they claim to be objective truth, in order to wedge open the door of politics. In other words, appeals to truth are just another partisan tool. It is the outsider who can embrace objective reality, because he has no skin in the game of politics.
An example of this is this New York Times opinion piece by two extremist law professors calling for the abolition of the constitution. The very first sentence in their piece is a lie designed to advance their agenda. “When liberals lose in the Supreme Court — as they increasingly have over the past half-century — they usually say that the justices got the Constitution wrong.” Liberals so rarely lose in court that when it happens, it is literally news for months, as we see with abortion.
The point of the lie is to butter up the intended audience with a bit of flattery to let them know the writers are fellow partisans. “We keep trying to use reason on these odious monsters, but they are immune to reason, so here is what we do.” In effect, the partisan statement at the start is an appeal to abandon objectivity. The next sentence makes that exact demand and the next paragraph explains why. What they mean by “rejecting constitutionalism” is the rejection of objective truth.
Of course, in order to make that work logically, they have to provide a definition of “constitution” that is itself a lie. These legal scholars from two of the most important elite academies in the empire claim that a constitution is about “setting more sacrosanct rules than the ones the legislature can pass.” You see, it is just an arbitrary set of “super rules” that were made up out of convenience. Most likely, the people behind it were bad people, being from the past and all that.
The argument in favor of a constitution has always been that it is a formalization of the superstructure of society. For any human grouping to hold together it must first answer the question, “Who are we?” The answer to the question must be filled out by a set of rules that define the answer. A constitution is what complex societies create to define themselves as a people. In one sentence the liberal tradition is discarded and relegated to partisan whimsy by these two radical legal scholars.
The rest of the piece is an argument in favor of overthrowing what remains of the liberal order and instituting what amounts to fascism. They imagine a totalitarian model of the law based on the tyranny of the majority. They make no effort to explain why fifty percent plus one is a sacred number. That is the partisan mind. The partisan never puts thought into analyzing his own statements of faith. Words exist for purely partisan reasons, to signal the who? whom? of politics.
Interestingly, the people chanting democratic phrases, while claiming to appeal to the will of the people, make clear that who decides is what matters. “Liberals have been attempting to reclaim the Constitution for 50 years — with agonizingly little to show for it. It’s time for them to radically alter the basic rules of the game.” The basic argument here is not against constitutions, but about who makes the rules. Objectively, this is a purely anti-democratic argument.
That is why the Left is immune to claims of hypocrisy. They can easily allow contradictory claims exist in their mind, as long as both claims advance the partisan agenda of their group. On the one hand they can demand democracy and on the other demand tyrannical control of the law. Both claims are useful in the partisan game of politics, so both can exist in the same toolbox. For the partisan, the contradiction makes reaching for the right tool easier.
Here is a great example. “No matter how openly political it may purport to be, reclaiming the Constitution remains a kind of antipolitics. It requires the substitution of claims about the best reading of some centuries-old text or about promises said to be already in our traditions for direct arguments about what fairness or justice demands.” The first sentence is self-contradictory. The last sentence is a promise to impose the values of a tiny minority on the population, in the name of democracy.
From the outside, the partisanship of Ryan D. Doerfler and Samuel Moyn, the authors of the piece, is monstrous. The only end is a bloodbath. These two are making the same basic claim as Pol Pot. The thing is, they are correct about one thing. It is who decides that matters, not how they decide. Constitutions must always be about who decides, first and foremost. This ensures the laws maintain this relationship between the rulers and their people.
That was the critical mistake of the Founders. It left open the door for others to decide and that is what led to the nightmare of the 20th century and the current crisis. At the other end of this crisis will be the answer to who decides going forward. Will it be vengeful aliens or the founding stock? In the end, the point of politics is not words on a paper but who puts the words on the paper. Ironically, that is the one objective truth that every partisan can accept.
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