Conservatives' worst nightmare is next at bat

One unfortunate day in the future, America will again have a Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate.  And when that day happens, conservatives had better start digging foxholes, because their worst nightmare will be the majority leader.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, the former hyper-partisan majority leader (and present minority leader) announced yesterday that he will retire at the end of his term in 2017.  He named Chuck Schumer, D-New York, as his heir apparent.

As a Westerner from a blue state that could flip to red at any time, Reid was forced to take account of libertarian views.  Nevada is, after all, the state of gambling, drinking, whoring, and the open carry of handguns.  As the Bundy Ranch affair last year indicated, plenty of Nevadans don’t think very highly of the federal government telling them what to do and what not to do.

Schumer will have no such limitations.  There will never be any serious electoral opposition to Schumer.  He is guaranteed to get re-elected from deep-blue New York for the rest of this life.  He will never self-destruct by getting caught with his pants down like Bill Clinton or Eliot Spitzer.  Nor will Schumer ever succumb to lowbrow corruption and deceit like Hillary Clinton deleting government e-mails.  He’s easily the most hardworking, take-nothing-for-granted, lunch bucket-style politician the Democratic Party has.  He doesn’t come from inherited wealth.  He can’t – and doesn’t – view politics as the pastime of the idle rich or as a launching pad into celebrity culture.

Like his fellow New Yorker Michael Bloomberg, Schumer is a control freak who thinks that New York City is the center of the universe and that stupid conservative hillbillies in “flyover country” need the tutelage of their urban betters.  Unlike Bloomberg, whose arrogance rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, Schumer has very genuine political skills and has been wildly successful at passing ultra-radical leftism off as mere Mom-and-Pop middle-class New Dealism.  He’s a flag-waver with a sober temperament who eschews the “Che Guevara radical chic” of some of his Democratic peers, which tends to make middle-class voters uncomfortable.

Schumer has never had a job in his life outside politics.  He’s been in office continuously since 1974, and in the Senate since 1998.  He’s very, very good at what he does, which is work effectively behind the scenes and unify factions within his caucus.  Schumer’s biggest success has been has been to mainstream two formerly radical issues into the bedrock of the Democratic Party: abortion and gun control.

In 1994, Schumer singlehandedly shut down the conservative Christian anti-abortion movement by authoring the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (or FACE) Act.  The FACE Act made it a federal crime to block or “intimidate” anyone at an abortion clinic, allowing protesters engaged in civil disobedience to be arrested on federal charges instead of just state-level disorderly conduct charges.  The FACE Act was then used to set up unconstitutional “buffer zones” where protesters were forbidden to exercise their First Amendment rights on public property.  Further, the FACE Act allowed the imposition of civil damages against protesters, allowing the seizure of assets and property of members of groups like Operation Rescue.  A few years later, in the Senate, Schumer attempted to prevent anti-abortion protesters from filing bankruptcy after being saddled with civil damage awards.

Also in 1994, Schumer authored the two most significant federal gun-control laws in recent history: the Brady Act and the Assault Weapons Ban.  The Supreme Court ruled that the Brady Act was an unconstitutional infringement on states’ rights because it forced local police to carry out federal law, and it was subsequently modified.  The Assault Weapons Ban, against Schumer’s wishes, was watered down in the committee process to rely on largely cosmetic definitions, and a sunset provision allowing it to expire in 2004 was also inserted.  (Nonetheless, it did successfully enact a decade-long national ban on the manufacture and sale of ammunition magazines holding more than ten rounds.)  Even more draconian legislation was subsequently passed in Schumer’s home state of New York, where so-called assault weapons, including the popular AR-15 rifle, have been banned entirely – forever.  In Schumer’s home borough of Brooklyn, all firearms must be registered, and it is illegal to possess any long gun capable of holding more than five rounds.  Schumer would love to see similar legislation passed on the federal level.  Beyond that, federal concealed-carry reciprocity legislation will be dead on arrival in a Schumer-controlled Senate.

Schumer – who holds a law degree from Harvard – seems to interpret the Bill of Rights selectively in accordance with his political agenda.  The First Amendment applies to union pickets and black civil rights protesters, but not to anti-abortion activists.  And recently, Schumer called for people placed on secret “terrorist watch lists” without any charges to be summarily denied the right to purchase guns, in clear violation of the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment.

Conservatives may find it hard to imagine, but when Schumer becomes majority leader, they may find themselves pining for the good ol’ days of Harry Reid.  You’d better gird for battle – because Schumer will surely be ready for you when his day comes.

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