Day: June 3, 2017

Time dwindling for major successes on GOP legislative agenda – The Bozeman Daily Chronicle

Politics

Time dwindling for major successes on GOP legislative agenda – The Bozeman Daily Chronicle

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump and his GOP allies on Capitol Hill have made it through nearly half their first year in power without a single major legislative achievement. If that’s going to change, it will have to start soon, a reality that Republican lawmakers will confront when they return to the Capitol on Monday from a weeklong break.

“We just need to work harder,” said the second-ranking Republican senator, John Cornyn of Texas, in an interview with KFYO radio in Lubbock, Texas, over the recess.

For now, the party’s marquee agenda items remain undone, their fate uncertain. The long-promised effort to overturn former President Barack Obama’s health law hangs in limbo in the Senate after barely passing the House. A tax overhaul that’s a top Trump priority is unwritten and in dispute, despite his recent claim on Twitter that it’s ahead of schedule.

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“The president keeps saying the tax bill is moving through Congress. It doesn’t exist,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said mockingly on Friday. “It doesn’t exist. There is no tax bill moving through Congress.”

Lawmakers will deal with those issues and more as Congress comes back into session, and realistically the window for action is closing fast. Seven legislative weeks are left before Congress scatters for a five-week August recess, a period when lawmakers are likely to lose momentum if they have failed to act on health care or taxes, and face GOP voters frustrated that they haven’t delivered.

Both issues are enormously difficult challenges, and the tax legislation must follow, for procedural reasons, passage of a budget, no small task on its own.

On top of it all, lawmakers are way behind on the annual spending legislation needed to keep the lights on in government. They were recently informed by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that they will have to raise the federal government’s borrowing limit before August, a daunting task ripe for brinkmanship.

Looming over everything is the investigation into allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign and connections with the Trump campaign. That investigation is in the hands of a special prosecutor and Congress’ intelligence committees. Former FBI Director James Comey, who was fired by Trump, is scheduled to testify before the Senate committee on Thursday.

“The Russia investigation takes a lot of oxygen, it takes a lot of attention,” said Republican Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a veteran lawmaker.

Cole argued that Republicans have not gotten the credit they deserve to date for what they have accomplished: voting to overturn a series of Obama regulations, as well as reaching compromise last month on spending legislation for the remainder of the 2017 budget year that included a big increase for defense. The biggest bright spot for the party and for Trump remains Senate confirmation in early April of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, whose elevation goes far to placate conservatives frustrated with inaction on other fronts.

“I think we’ve done more than we’ve gotten credit for, but the big ones are ahead,” Cole said. “It’s certainly an ambitious agenda we’ve got, there’s no question about it, it has been all along and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Historically, Capitol Hill has been at its busiest and most productive in the early days of a new president’s administration, during the traditional honeymoon. But with his approval ratings hovering around 40 percent, Trump never got that grace period, and although his core supporters show no signs of abandoning him, he is not providing the focused leadership usually essential to helping pass major legislation.

Within Obama’s first 100 days of office he had signed a large stimulus package as well as equal pay legislation and other bills. An active Congress under President George W. Bush had made progress on campaign finance legislation and bankruptcy changes, among other issues.

In the Senate, Republicans’ slim 52-48 majority gives them little room for error on health care and taxes, issues where they are using complicated procedural rules to move ahead with simple majorities and no Democratic support. Trump’s apparent disengagement from the legislative process was evident this past week when he demanded on Twitter that the Senate “should switch to 51 votes, immediately, and get Healthcare and TAX CUTS approved, fast and easy.”

In fact that’s exactly how Republicans are already moving. But the trouble is within their own ranks as Senate Republicans disagree over how quickly to unwind the Medicaid expansion under Obama’s health law, as well as other elements of the GOP bill.

Addressing the health legislation, Cornyn pledged on KFYO, “We’ll get it done by the end of July at the latest.” Despite that show of optimism, there’s uncertainty aplenty over whether the Senate will be able to pass a health bill, and whether a complicated tax overhaul or even a simple set of tax cuts will advance.

For some Republicans, their sights are set on the more immediate and necessary tasks of completing the annual spending bills that are needed to avert a government shutdown when the budget year ends Sept. 30, and on raising the debt ceiling to avert a first-ever default.

“It’ll be more difficult than it should be,” said GOP Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee. “Because Congress is what it is.”

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California politics updates: Gov. Jerry Brown goes to China to affirm climate change alliance – Los Angeles Times

Politics

California politics updates: Gov. Jerry Brown goes to China to affirm climate change alliance – Los Angeles Times

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June 3, 2017, 6:02 a.m.

Gov. Jerry Brown, in a counter to Trump, lands in China to affirm climate change alliance

Gov. Jerry Brown landed in China on Saturday to seek a broader role in shaping the world’s climate change policies as America retrenches.   

His arrival is timely. President Trump on Thursday pulled the U.S. out of the Paris accord, a hard-fought pact negotiated by China and the U.S. under President Obama to battle global warming worldwide. China has vowed to stay in it.  

Brown brought a fraction of the nearly 100 officials who accompanied him on his trip four years ago, when he rode China’s high-speed rail and set up a trade office in Shanghai. This time his five-night mission is more focused: to reaffirm a global obligation to green growth as America’s defacto envoy on climate change. 

A gritty layer of smog met Brown as he landed in Chengdu, the teaming capital city of Sichuan, a southwestern province famed for its mouth-numbing peppercorns and pandas.

He’ll travel on Monday to Nanjing in coastal Jiangsu province, which shares a sister relationship with California. 

These regions, which are making strides in clean energy development, were the first two Chinese provinces to sign onto an international climate change pact Brown helped create, known as the Under2 Coalition. 

The agreement includes more than 100 cities, states, provinces and countries who have committed to limit the increase in global temperatures below 2 degrees — the point when glaciers melt, seas rise, and scientists warn of irrevocable consequences.  

Brown also will promote clean energy investment in his meetings with regional and national officials, and attend a conference on Tuesday of global energy ministers. He’ll co-host a forum on Wednesday with Sichuan officials and China’s Ministry of Science and Technology that brings together coalition members to plot carbon-cutting efforts. 

“China is moving forward in a very serious way,” he told The Times just before his departure. “And so is California.” 

June 2, 2017, 1:50 p.m.

Kimberly Ellis says her request for an independent audit of the vote for California Democratic Party leader was rejected

Democratic organizer Kimberly Ellis, the candidate who narrowly lost the race to be the next leader of the California Democratic Party, on Friday said the state party has rejected her request for an independent audit of the election.

A statement released by the Ellis campaign Friday afternoon claims that it has uncovered “alarming discrepancies and an amassing of ineligible voters” during her campaign’s ongoing review of the ballots cast during the state party’s convention almost two weeks ago.

The Ellis campaign said her request for the audit was rejected by newly elected state party chairperson Eric Bauman, who beat Ellis by just over 60 votes.

“Eric’s rejection of an independent forensic audit is well beyond troubling. If everything was done on the up-and-up, what is there to hide?” said Hilary Crosby, former controller for the state party and an Ellis supporter.

Ellis has already submitted a separate, formal challenge of the election results.

Chris Masami Myers, state party executive director, earlier this week said in a statement that it would be reviewed “in accordance with the standard practices described in the bylaws.”

The party’s compliance review commission, made up of six members who were appointed during former Chairman John Burton’s tenure, will review the evidence and take oral or written testimony before issuing a ruling in mid- to late June.

Ellis has called for the party to appoint an interim chair until the challenge is resolved but, in her statement, said Bauman rejected that request.

An attorney for the Ellis campaign also submitted a request to the state party to preserve all of the ballots and other elections material in the party elections.

June 2, 2017, 11:44 a.m.

Bid to renew California’s landmark anti-climate change program hits roadblocks

Efforts to expand California’s primary program to combat climate change have hit a snag.

Two bills that aimed to extend the state’s cap-and-trade program failed to make it out of the Assembly by this week’s deadline. And Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) rebuffed Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to lock in cap and trade’s future by the June 15 budget deadline, saying that the issue was too complicated to complete by that time.

“We have to get it right,” de León said this week.

Cap and trade, a system that requires companies to pay to pollute, aims to force down carbon emissions so that the state can meet its goals of substantially reducing greenhouse gases over the coming decades. The program, which generates significant state revenue for anti-global warming investments, is authorized to operate through 2020. Brown, de León and other lawmakers are hoping to extend it through a two-thirds supermajority vote to insulate the effort from legal challenge.

Since the beginning of the year, lawmakers have discussed numerous proposals to extend the program, but nothing has gained traction.

Thursday night, AB 378 from Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) failed after a long roll call vote that didn’t convince skeptical colleagues. Besides extending the program for a decade, Garcia’s bill would have added new restrictions on air pollution, an issue that has been championed by environmental justice groups. Another cap-and-trade extension bill from Assemblywoman Autumn Burke (D-Marina del Rey) never came up for a vote Thursday.

Aside from the two bills, business-aligned Democrats in the Assembly have released their own cap-and-trade plan, a de León-backed measure remains active in the Senate and Assembly Republicans have expressed interest in working to extend the program.

In an interview this week with The Times, Brown said he understands the concerns of lawmakers in low-income, high-pollution communities.

“Cleaning up the air where it’s most dirty makes a lot of sense,” Brown said. “With cap and trade, we’ll have billions of dollars to achieve just that.”

De León said his goal was to have a cap-and-trade deal done by the end of the legislative year in September.

Times Sacramento bureau chief John Myers contributed to this report.

June 2, 2017, 7:56 a.m.

One of Rep. Mimi Walters’ 2018 challengers gets an endorsement from EMILY’s List

EMILY’s List has endorsed UC Irvine law professor Katie Porter in her bid to unseat Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) in California’s 45th District.

It’s the group’s first House endorsement for the 2018 election. It supports pro-choice, female candidates.

Porter, 43, is an expert on consumer protection law and banking and gave early warnings about mortgage fraud ahead of the 2008 financial collapse. She was picked by then-Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris to monitor distribution of California’s share of a $25-billion mortgage foreclosure settlement.

“We need leaders on Capitol Hill who aren’t afraid to stand up to Trump associates, big banks, and entrenched special interests who wield tremendous power over the White House, the Trump family, and a Republican-controlled Congress,” EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock said in a statement.

Porter entered the race with endorsements from Harris and her former law school professor, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is targeting the seat, but beating a Republican in the 45th District will be a heavy lift. Walters won reelection in 2016 with 58.6% of the vote, even though the Orange County district went for Hillary Clinton by 5% in November’s presidential election.

Four other Democrats have filed to run in the 45th District: Former Capitol Hill staffer Kia Hamadanchy, UC Irvine law professor Dave Min, and small-business owners Eric Rywalski and Ron Varasteh.

June 1, 2017, 11:37 p.m.

Legislation to overhaul bail reform in California hits a hurdle in Assembly

An ambitious plan to overhaul the bail system in California stalled in the Assembly late Thursday, facing steep opposition from industry lobbyists and lawmakers concerned about the high costs it could impose on counties.

The bill by Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) was the last proposal to be reconsidered for a vote and failed to make it out of the chamber near 11 p.m., with 36 lawmakers in favor and 37 opposed.

The result spells challenges ahead for an identical version of the proposal authored by state Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys). That bill is now before the Assembly after it was approved in the Senate this week with a 25-11 vote.

The proposals seek to ensure offenders awaiting trial are not incarcerated solely because they cannot afford to pay their bail. They would end the use of money bail schedules, or fixed fee systems, and require counties to establish pretrial services agencies to weigh whether defendants are fit for release.

On the Assembly floor on Thursday, Bonta said he was committed to working with counties, law enforcement officials and victims and planned to add at least four amendments, including ensuring criminal history remained a factor of consideration for release.  

He also said he was willing to make his proposal a two-year bill.

Colleagues, our system is broken,” he said. “I haven’t talked to any of you who have disagreed.”

Opponents argued that the bill was too soft on crime, plagued with implementation issues and would pass on unfunded liabilities to counties.

“This bill is clearly not a remedy for something that needs reform,” Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) said. “It is a dismantling.”

Supporters agreed it wasn’t perfect, but urged members not to wait to address a system that they said preys on poor families and fuels economic and racial disparities. 

“It is theft on the poor people in our community,” Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego) said. “It is shocking and wrong, and it is time that we do something.”

June 1, 2017, 11:36 p.m.

With Democrats divided, Assembly rejects a plan to extend California’s cap-and-trade program

Garcia said her bill “meaningfully integrates cap and trade with air quality,” and represented a significant step forward for low-income communities in the state’s climate change agenda.

“We need to assure that our success is shared equitably across all of California,” she said during Thursday night’s floor debate.

But the Assembly’s business-aligned “mod” Democrats refused to support the bill. So too did Republicans who recently embraced a renewal of the cap-and-trade program but disagreed with its linkage to air pollution beyond that strictly linked to greenhouse gases, a move championed by environmental justice groups.

Further complicating the politics is an insistence by Gov. Jerry Brown that the legislation requires a two-thirds vote in both legislative houses, given the legal fight over pollution credits being viewed as government fees.

“That requires a two-thirds vote,” Brown said in an interview with The Times on Wednesday. “If we jettison, gut or emasculate our cap and trade, that will do damage to our climate leadership.”

Lawmakers are expected to take the issue up again this summer before adjourning for the year in mid-September.

June 1, 2017, 6:39 p.m.

Republican Rep. Steve Knight faces heated questions about Trump policies at Santa Clarita town hall

Rep. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) has had three town halls this year. His Thursday afternoon event — at 4 p.m. in a Santa Clarita high school auditorium — was the most sparsely attended and perhaps the most heated. 

Factions in the crowd interrupted each other in the auditorium as people tried to ask questions.

One constituent accused Knight of lying about a piece of financial legislation, and another got into a particularly heated back-and-forth with Knight about his vote to kill federal regulations that would have required broadband companies to get customer permission before using or sharing personal information.

“You are an educated person at this; I’m not trying to get in an argument,” Knight said.

“Well clearly you are not,” the constituent responded as the crowd burst into applause and the microphone was passed to the next questioner. 

The drama wasn’t reserved just for Knight, whose district is almost evenly split between registered Democrats and Republicans, while about a fifth of voters list themselves as “no party preference.” National Democrats have targeted his seat as one they want to flip in 2018.

At one point, a woman criticized Planned Parenthood and asked Knight to support cutting federal funding for it, as a group of people wearing pink hats shouted her down.

Later, a man in the audience shouted, “Is this a room full of children?”

Things started with a man asking the congressman how he managed to “cope” while “working with with a pathological liar” — a reference to President Trump. 

After the crowd died down a bit, Knight said his office focuses on aeronautics issues and helping out small businesses. 

“We keep our head down,” he said. 

Knight also used the town hall to announce his opposition to certain cuts in Trump’s budget — notably to education and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

“I don’t support these cuts,” he said. 

One woman, who said her son is on Medicaid, grew emotional when she asked about Trump’s proposed budget. Knight said nobody would be kicked off Medicaid, triggering immediate boos. He noted that Trump’s budget would not be final. 

“Remember: The budget is built out of Congress,” he said.  

June 1, 2017, 5:17 p.m.

Single-payer healthcare plan advances in California Senate — without a way to pay its $400-billion tab

A proposal to adopt a single-payer healthcare system for California took an initial step forward Thursday when the state Senate approved a bare-bones bill that lacks a method for paying the $400-billion cost of the plan.

The proposal was made by legislators led by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) at the same time President Trump and Republican members of Congress are working to repeal and replace the federal Affordable Care Act.

“Despite the incredible progress California has made, millions still do not have access to health insurance and millions more cannot afford the high deductibles and co-pays, and they often forgo care,” Lara said during a floor debate on the bill.

The bill, which now goes to the state Assembly for consideration, will have to be further developed, Lara conceded, adding he hopes to reach a consensus on a way to pay for it.

Republican senators opposed the bill as a threat to the state’s finances.

“We don’t have the money to pay for it,” Sen. Tom Berryhill (R-Modesto) said. “If we cut every single program and expense from the state budget and redirected that money to this bill, SB 562, we wouldn’t even cover half of the $400-billion price tag.”

Berryhill also said the private sector is better suited to provide healthcare.

“I absolutely don’t trust the government to run our health system,” he said. “What has the government ever done right?”

Lara’s bill would provide a Medicare-for-all-type system that he believed would guarantee health coverage for all Californians without the out-of-pocket costs. Under a single-payer plan, the government replaces private insurance companies, paying doctors and hospitals for healthcare.

The California Nurses Assn., which sponsored the bill, released a fiscal analysis this week that proposed raising the state sales and business receipts taxes by 2.3% to raise $106 billion of the annual cost, with the rest proposed to come from state and federal funding already going to Medicare and Medicaid services.

Sen. Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado Hills) called the plan “reckless” and said the taxes would hurt businesses and families while financially crippling the state government.

“It’s offensive to the people who have to pay for it,” he said.

Some Democrats felt the bill was rushed and undeveloped. Sen. Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) withheld his vote on the bill on grounds it does not provide enough detail of what a single-payer system would look like.

“This is the Senate kicking the can down the road to the Assembly and asking the Assembly to fill in all of the blanks,” Hueso said. “That’s not going to happen this year.”

Lara said action is required because of what is happening in Washington.

“With President Trump’s promise to abandon the Affordable Care Act as we know it — for one that leaves millions without access to care — California is once again tasked to lead,” he told his colleagues.

He said his father recently had heart bypass surgery but went through the emergency room for help after his insurance company initially turned him down.

Even if the bill is approved, it has to go to Gov. Jerry Brown, who has been skeptical, and then voters would have to exempt it from spending limits and budget formulas in the state Constitution. In addition, the state would have to get federal approval to repurpose existing funds for Medicare and Medicaid.

Read more about how the single-payer plan would work here. 

June 1, 2017, 4:55 p.m.

California Senate passes package of bills aiming to address housing crisis

California state senators passed a package of housing legislation Thursday, a bid to spend more on low-income housing as well as make it easier for developers to build.  

The two marquee measures — Senate Bill 35 from Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Senate Bill 3 from Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose) — would force cities that have fallen behind on their state housing production goals to reduce some of the hoops they put in place to approve developments and would authorize a $3-billion bond to spend on low-income housing on the 2018 statewide ballot.

“What the bill does do is create actual accountability,” Wiener said of SB 35. “Because local control is about how you meet your housing goals, not whether you meet your housing goals.”

Beall’s measure would increase state funding for building and preserving low-income multifamily developments, farmworker housing and low-income projects near transit.

“It is the beginning of a solution for our problem,” Beall said.

Both bills received an unusual coalition of support. Some Democratic senators voted no on Wiener’s measure while some GOP lawmakers supported it. Beall’s measure needed two-thirds supermajority support and multiple Republicans voted yes.

The package of housing bills is an effort to meet Gov. Jerry Brown’s demand to approve new funding for low-income housing only if the Legislature also makes building less costly. Efforts last year to address the state’s housing problems failed, and lawmakers introduced more than 130 housing bills this year.  

Two major housing funding bills have yet to receive full votes in the Senate or Assembly: a proposal from Sen. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) to add a $75 fee on real estate transactions — except for home and commercial property sales — and one from Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco) to eliminate the state’s mortgage interest deduction from second homes. Combined, the measures would raise roughly $600 million a year for low-income housing development. Because those bills require two-thirds supermajority votes of the Legislature, they don’t have to pass their initial house by Friday’s deadline. 

June 1, 2017, 2:37 p.m.

‘Though flawed, the climate accord can be fixed,’ says California Republican Rep. Ed Royce

June 1, 2017, 1:10 p.m.

Gov. Jerry Brown on the Paris climate change accord: ‘Trump is AWOL but California is on the field, ready for battle’

Ahead of President Trump’s announcement that the U.S. would pull out of the Paris climate change accord, California Gov. Jerry Brown told The Times such a move would be “unfortunate possible even tragic.”

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times

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Class teaches soldiers technology – Colorado Springs Gazette

Technology

Class teaches soldiers technology – Colorado Springs Gazette

About 500 soldiers leave the military every month in Colorado Springs, and now the Microsoft Software & Systems Academy is bridging the gap to civilian careers in information technology.

MSSA and Fort Carson celebrated Friday as 24 soldiers entered the inaugural class at Catalyst Campus for Technology & Innovation.

“Coming out of the military, this seems like the best thing to do,” said new student Jesse Sutton. “I’m feeling really confident.”

The 18-week accelerated program trains active-duty service members for IT careers.

“Creating this resource is a tangible way to give back to the service men and women and their spouses who do so much for our country,” said Mayor John Suthers.

Program graduates can meet the industry’s high demand for cloud developers and administrators in database, cloud and business intelligence fields.

“Finding IT personnel for many businesses is a huge challenge,” said Thomas Dawkins, Microsoft’s director of workforce development and education.

The average salary for an IT professional is $70,000, Dawkins said.

“I was an IT guy in the military, and I really wanted to expand my skillset,” Sutton said.

Training goes beyond technology by expanding problem-solving skills, teamwork and critical thinking, said Aaron Glassman, chairman of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Department of Management and Technology. Microsoft is in partnership with Embry-Riddle.

Service members don’t need an IT background to join the program; a strong interest is enough.

“I was always fascinated by computers, and when I saw this program, I thought it would be a great path,” said new student Meshack Koyiaki.

Ninety percent of graduates get IT jobs or finish their college degrees, Microsoft reported. Graduates have gone on to work for more than 200 companies, including Dell, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, Accenture and Facebook, as well as the Department of Defense.

“Even if I don’t get a job, in the future I’ll see a position asking for the knowledge I gained from the program,” Koyiaki said.

The government estimates IT occupations will grow 12 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations.

“Once you have that knowledge, no one is going to take that away from you,” Koyiaki said.

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Of Politics and Fences – National Review

Politics

Of Politics and Fences – National Review

Politics, like construction, has its boom and bust cycles, and fences — of both the literal and figurative sort — are out of fashion right now. We’re supposed to be erasing borders, not erecting barriers; opening hands, not clenching fists.

But while he doesn’t get much credit for it, Robert Frost’s “old-stone savage” was right: Good fences do make good neighbors. Fences differentiate what is mine from what is not-mine. Fences define the space in which I can exercise my freedom most fully. And fences keep out marauders.

Our politics is besieged by marauders at the moment. On Wednesday, Matt Nelson, the man behind WeRateDogs™, a Twitter account devoted to posting pictures of cute canines, announced that he would be donating profits from sales of select merchandise on his website to Planned Parenthood. Nelson is, of course, welcome to do with his site and his money as he wishes. What conservatives lamented was that he saw fit to politicize what had been, until then, an apolitical account.

Nelson’s left-wing followers responded differently. On his personal account, Nelson endorsed a long Twitter screed by a freelance journalist who suggested that “people literally can’t handle a person running a dog Twitter account and supporting Planned Parenthood at the same time.” Many others weighed in similarly.

This, like so many things today, is a dispute over fencing. Classically liberal politics is all about good fencing. Our system is set up to fence in the government, which the American Founders knew had a tendency to wander into adjacent territory. The persons and arrangements within the government were, themselves, fenced in further: Congress cannot do this, the president cannot do that. Politics was a crucial enterprise, but a narrow one. It was designed to do the minimal work of keeping people from killing each other — and to leave maximal space for those same people to pursue what it was never within the power of politics to provide: the various and innumerable goods that make up a human life.

In general, conservatives continue to favor this structure. Certain things are, and ought to be, outside the boundaries of politics. That’s not to say they’re not debatable, or entirely irrelevant to political considerations; it’s just to say that politics, properly understood, is a blunt instrument with little meaningful application to many, if not most, of the most meaningful parts of life.

But progressives have reversed these priorities. It is not simply that nothing is outside of politics – as an extension of the logic of “identity politics,” that is true, as far as it goes. It is that there is nothing of which the political aspects are not the most important. Mozart symphonies, Saul Bellow novels, Jivamukti yoga, Twitter accounts: The most important thing about them is how they interact with our urgent political debates.

Liberal politics was never meant to shoulder this burden, and the nastiness of our current political life makes unmistakably clear that it can’t — at least, not without turning into a deeply illiberal politics. Shoving the good things we ultimately seek — all of which transcend politics — into our local political frame is to distort both our politics and those good things.

The genius of our political order was to prioritize individual liberty, giving it as much space as possible, within the bounds of “the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God,” to seek those transcendent goods; and to make that search equally available to every person. That required fences, but those fences made for good neighbors.

It’s time to rebuild.

— Ian Tuttle is the Thomas L. Rhodes Fellow at the National Review Institute.

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