The “Criminalizing” of Conservatism

Here is a conservative article about the criminalizing of conservative views.  The author, Paul Mirengoff, argues that this trend targets mostly conservative and/or Republican views.  (Powerline is written by three conservative lawyers who attended Dartmouth together.)

In a very similar article, Slate magazine (a heavily left-leaning outlet) argues nearly the same thing here , but claims that the trend is both against left and right wing groups.  I don’t think the numbers favor this view, but it does argue against the notion that this observation is merely a fantasy of those of us on the right.

Between the legal cases that the left has filed against Scott Walker, those against Rick Perry, the IRS scandal(s), the Chris Christie “Bridgegate” affair, the criminal charges against Scooter Libby, and even the nuisance cases filed against Sarah Palin, there is not a lot of room for doubt that the left is using the legal system in a manner that a) specifically targets their political opponents and b) is not appropriate in either the political context or in a legal manner, nor is it a “civic good” in the way that the founders intended our political and legal systems to work.  While it is true that there are some examples of Republicans or conservatives retaliating in similar ways, there are significant differences both of substance and in terms of the number of cases that can be cited.

When you add to that trend the related trends of the purge of senior military officers, attacks upon military personnel who support conservative views (here is just one of many examples), and a number of other cases, I don’t think that there can be much room for doubt that this is a systematic and deliberate phenomenon.

This trend is pernicious in several ways:

  1. While it is not unusual for totalitarians (like virtually all of the modern left) to try to silence any dissent, it is unusual in the sense that  they are using the U.S. legal system for the exact opposite purpose for which it was intended.  The U.S. system of justice is intended to ensure liberty for all Americans, not to try to limit their ability to think and express their political views–even if they differ from orthodoxy.
  2. Like the IRS scandal, the use of the mechanisms of government to target political views is damaging not only to our system of government, but to the polity itself.   We risk turning our own country into a banana republic–where political leaders (of any stripe) are likely to be jailed, persecuted, or worse after leaving office–or even while still in it.  (The trend toward impeaching every president may be a harbinger of this problem.)

Most of all, as the Slate article concluded, the U.S. political system is intended to be a safe alternative to violent action.  The criminalization of politics is, by its very nature, violent–in that it can (and does) result in incarceration.  The alternative is for voters to dispose of politicians using the ballot box, not the court system.