Today in election history, Harry Truman celebrated pulling off one of the greatest upsets in American history, defeating Republican Thomas Dewey and turning the two-time Presidential loser’s name into an eternal punchline, thanks to the Chicago Tribune’s over-eager headline based on early returns the night before. With Truman’s popularity at historic lows and all of the experts declaring the President defeated before that race began, Dewey campaigned at a leisurely pace, though not exactly a Joe Biden pace. Truman, in contrast, campaigned furiously as the underdog. Truman defeated Dewey by 114 electoral votes, creating the all-time template for surprise Presidential victories, and embedding the photograph above in American lore.
Even this couldn’t displace it…
1. Althouse gets defensive about “abstaining.” One of the bloggers most quoted at Ethics Alarms became triggered by a critical comment about her abstaining from voting and defended herself today, though not too well. Althouse addressed the commenter, named Slothrop, as well as the general attack on 2020 non-voters like her by Instapundit firebrand Sarah Hoyt. Ann countered in part,
[T]his method of using insults to push people to vote is ugly. Are they doing it because they think it’s effective? I don’t yield to bullies. …Slothrop appeals to my vanity as he insists that I be a good person — not cowardly and neglectful of duty. Hoyt denounces vanity and insists that I not get involved in any sense of my personal goodness… she portrays the abstainer as snooty — with her nose in the air, acting like she’s “too good for this.”
Slothrop is distinctly wrong when he says voting is a duty. No. It is not. Like speaking, like religion, like getting married, like having sexual relations, voting is a right, and a right entails the power to decline to exercise it. It is horrible to be forced to speak, forced to take on a religion, forced to get married, forced to have sex — these are loathsome impositions.
Hoyt is wrong — in my case at least — to attribute a refusal to vote for Trump to taking offense at his personal style — his manners, his crassness. I happen to enjoy his personal style…
Trump has his style and I have mine. If it makes you want to stomp your foot, go ahead. You can keep “stomping your foot about” how cruelly neutral I am. You’re free. You’ve got your right and I’ve got mine.
Verdict: Lame. Voting is a duty of citizenship, as long as the citizen is informed, as Althouse certainly is. Yes, there is a right not to do your duty, unless a law makes it mandatory. I’m shocked, or perhaps enlightened, that Althouse would excuse her refusal to make a tough choice to “style.” Let’s see, how many rationalizations on the list does that rattle, along with the rest of her self-defense? I’ve got at least eleven:
23 A. Woody’s Excuse: “The heart wants what the heart wants”
24. Juror 3’s Stand (“It’s My Right!”)
38. The Miscreant’s Mulligan or “Give him/her/them/me a break!”
41 A. Popeye’s Excuse, or “I am what I am.”
46. Zola’s Rejection, or “Don’t point fingers!”
48. Ethics Jiu Jitsu, or “Haters Gonna Hate!”
50A. Narcissist Ethics , or “I don’t care”
55. The Scooby Doo Deflection, or “I should have gotten away with it!”
58. The Golden Rule Mutation, or “I’m all right with it!”
61. The Paranoid’s Blindness, or “It’s not me, it’s you.”
63. Yoo’s Rationalization or “It isn’t what it is”
2. Good! The Supreme Court took a step toward weakening qualified immunity in a decision yesterday. Qualified immunity is the long-held doctrine that makes law enforcement officers and many other government officials immune from civil suits for violating constitutional and statutory rights in the course of performing their duties unless they have violated “clearly established” law, or immunity is waived. Courts have interpret “clearly established” in a manner that allows police officers to avoid punishment for terrible misconduct abuses unless a federal court has decided a case with essentially identical facts.
In Taylor v. Riojas, the Supreme Court issued a decision rejecting a law enforcement officer’s “qualified immunity” defense a 7-1 majority ruling that the lower court had erred in granting qualified immunity to prison officials who had grossly abused a prisoner.
The Volokh Conspiracy suggests that
…the Court wanted to send a message to lower courts, that the latter should no longer grant qualified immunity in these kinds of highly egregious cases. The backlash against qualified immunity generated by the public reaction to the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police may have led the justices to conclude that a step like this was warranted.
What remains to be seen is whether the Court will follow up by considering whether qualified immunity should be abolished entirely, or at least severely pared back. The doctrine has been severely criticized by legal scholars and by Supreme Court justices as varied as Clarence Thomas and Sonia Sotomayor.
3. Ask your friends who insist that Democrats are not intending to inflict socialism on the nation to explain the campaign ad from Kamala Harris yesterday.
Several Ethics Alarms stalwarts alerted me to this—thank you all. I had already seen it, however, and was retching in my closet.
I have written here repeatedly that the 2020 election would be about whether Lincoln was wrong, and you can fool all of the people all of the time. I think the late release of this essentially Marxist video is one of the following a) an attempt to have the agenda on the record, so Democrats can say, “Hey, we were transparent about our intentions, and we won!” b) a late and panicky effort to energize the far left base, which polls suggest aren’t all that excited about Joe Biden, or c) stupid.
Andrew Sullivan tweeted, “Why would a vice presidential candidate seemingly endorse full-on Marxism days before a general election? Does she believe government should enforce equality of outcome for everyone? Seriously?”
Yes, seriously, Andrew. Have you not been paying attention? And are you really going to vote for a ticket that endorses that?