FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Conservative Fear of Norming

“Throughout history, government has proven to be the chief instrument for thwarting man’s liberty.  Government represents power in the hands of some men to control the and regulate the lives of other men.”

– Barry Goldwater, Conscience of a Conservative

Conservatives exhibit a strange obsession with a “timeless” Constitution.  1787 is that only context that matters.  Original intent of the framers is the only interpretation.  To them, the words of the Constitution came from God.

In particular, they praise the founding fathers’ establishment of a limited government with a specific set of individual rights.  This is why they fear “norms,” or “norming.”  The conservative outrage towards the accusations of sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh’s stem from this fear.  Not only do these accusations threaten the Right’s sanctity of the confirmation process, they threaten a class of men with the power to evade the consequences.  This elite political class is frightened by the prospect that the consequences for sexual assault and harassment with prevent them from public office.  Their right to an unrestrained private life, which includes sexually assaulting women and owning dozens of firearms, is a crucial part of the conservative maintenance of hierarchy.

John Bolton, Trump’s National Security Advisor, exemplifies this class of men that believes in the fairy tale of meritocracy. Like Kavanaugh, Bolton attended private schools in Maryland and Yale School of Law.  In his autobiography, Surrender is Not an Option, Bolton writes:

This was the way leftist groups such as Greenpeace and Human Rights Watch had successfully worked to isolate the United States on the Kyoto Protocol, the Rome Statute, and the Ottawa Landmines Convention, and they used it with increasing frequency on domestic policy issues like “right of the child,” the death penalty, and now gun control.  This approach, often called “norming,” meaning, in a neutral sense, creating international norms of behavior, could be helpful, especially if it meant raising standards in intolerable regimes.  What it increasingly came to mean, however, was whipping the United States into line with leftist views of the way the world should look.

Bolton admits that the overarching vision of conservative politics bridges foreign policy and domestic policy.  Maintaining dominance over foreign countries abroad and over women at home is one in the same.

The preservation of hierarchy on every front is the driving force of the right.  Leftists are right to use Kavanaugh’s confirmation process as a way to normalize accountability for sexual assault.  These are heinous acts, often connected to the exercise a certain class power, should prevent anyone from serving in office.  While his positions on abortion, birth control, unions, and the expansion of executive powers are equally horrifying, fighting for this norm is a chance to strike a blow against the “meritocratic” class that preys on women with impunity.

John Forte is a high school social studies teacher, a union activist, and a member of DSA in New Jersey.  He can be reached at joforte9@gmail.com.

More articles by:

February 21, 2019
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s Fake National Emergency Moves America Closer to an Autocracy
Alex Campbell
Tracing the Threads in Venezuela: Humanitarian Aid
Jonah Raskin
Mitchel Cohen Takes on Global and Local Goliaths: Profile of a Lifelong Multi-Movement Organizer
Binoy Kampmark
Size Matters: the Demise of the Airbus A380
February 20, 2019
Anthony DiMaggio
Withdrawal Pains and Syrian Civil War: An Analysis of U.S. Media Discourse
Charles Pierson
When Saudi Arabia Gets the Bomb
Doug Johnson Hatlem
“Electability” is Real (Unless Married with the Junk Science of Ideological Spectrum Analysis)
Kenneth Surin
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline: Another Boondoggle in Virginia
John Feffer
The Psychology of the Wall
Dean Baker
Modern Monetary Theory and Taxing the Rich
Russell Mokhiber
Citizens Arrested Calling Out Manchin on Rockwool
George Ochenski
Unconstitutional Power Grabs
Michael T. Klare
War With China? It’s Already Under Way
Thomas Knapp
The Real Emergency Isn’t About the Wall, It’s About the Separation of Powers
Manuel García, Jr.
Two Worlds
Daniel Warner
The Martin Ennals and Victorian Prize Winners Contrast with Australia’s Policies against Human Dignity
Norman Solomon
What the Bernie Sanders 2020 Campaign Means for Progressives
Dan Corjescu
2020 Vision: A Strategy of Courage
Matthew Johnson
Why Protest Trump When We Can Impeach Him?
William A. Cohn
Something New and Something Old: a Story Still Being Told
Bill Martin
The Fourth Hypothesis: the Present Juncture of the Trump Clarification and the Watershed Moment on the Washington Mall
February 19, 2019
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Troublesome Possibilities: The Left and Tulsi Gabbard
Patrick Cockburn
She Didn’t Start the Fire: Why Attack the ISIS Bride?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Literature and Theater During War: Why Euripides Still Matters
Maximilian Werner
The Night of Terror: Wyoming Game and Fish’s Latest Attempt to Close the Book on the Mark Uptain Tragedy
Conn Hallinan
Erdogan is Destined for Another Rebuke in Turkey
Nyla Ali Khan
Politics of Jammu and Kashmir: The Only Viable Way is Forward
Mark Ashwill
On the Outside Looking In: an American in Vietnam
Joyce Nelson
Sir Richard Branson’s Venezuelan-Border PR Stunt
Ron Jacobs
Day of Remembrance and the Music of Anthony Brown        
Cesar Chelala
Women’s Critical Role in Saving the Environment
February 18, 2019
Paul Street
31 Actual National Emergencies
Robert Fisk
What Happened to the Remains of Khashoggi’s Predecessor?
David Mattson
When Grizzly Bears Go Bad: Constructions of Victimhood and Blame
Julian Vigo
USMCA’s Outsourcing of Free Speech to Big Tech
George Wuerthner
How the BLM Serves the West’s Welfare Ranchers
Christopher Fons
The Crimes of Elliot Abrams
Thomas Knapp
The First Rule of AIPAC Is: You Do Not Talk about AIPAC
Mitchel Cohen
A Tale of Two Citations: Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” and Michael Harrington’s “The Other America”
Jake Johnston
Haiti and the Collapse of a Political and Economic System
Dave Lindorff
It’s Not Just Trump and the Republicans
Laura Flanders
An End to Amazon’s Two-Bit Romance. No Low-Rent Rendezvous.
Patrick Walker
Venezuelan Coup Democrats Vomit on Green New Deal
Natalie Dowzicky
The Millennial Generation Will Tear Down Trump’s Wall
Nick Licata
Of Stress and Inequality
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail