Stop Treating Rule of Law Like a Magical Sparkle Pony and Get Busy

Like everyone else, I anxiously await the DC Circuit decision on Trump’s immunity bid.

Unlike most people, I’m not yet convinced that the delay so far stems from Judge Karen Henderson deliberately stalling the decision.

To be sure, I identified Henderson as the key target for persuasion before the hearing. I even suggested she might happily join an opinion holding that unofficial acts may be charged criminally, without ruling regarding official acts.

Her statements at the hearing on immunity were a pleasant surprise; it seems she’ll easily reach that position, adopting at least the Blassingame standard that former Presidents can be charged for unofficial acts, like starting a coup to try to stay in office.

So, as I said, I’m still not convinced she’s stalling.

That’s because the decision is more complicated than most commentators appreciate.

There are three decisions in front of these judges. First, whether or not the court has jurisdiction to rule at all. Then, whether they should just rule for unofficial acts, like launching a coup to get reelected, or whether they should rule, generally, that Presidents can even be prosecuted for their official acts, like pardoning Roger Stone to buy his silence. Finally, they need to decide how to release the opinion, possibly in a way to give Trump fewer options to stall further.

Because the American Oversight amicus — a pretty convincing one! — raised a question about whether the DC Circuit had jurisdiction, it caused a potential split between Florence Pan and Michelle Childs, both Biden appointees, who otherwise seemed to agree on the scope of their ruling. Childs seemed very persuaded by the AO brief, and so very cautious about their basis to rule at all.

As a result, there’s no natural majority, meaning whatever opinion(s) get written will be far harder to map out. It is simply a far harder opinion than most people think, and if they get this wrong, it’s going to lead to far longer delays at both the en banc and SCOTUS level.

Talk to me in two weeks. If we’ve got no ruling then, I’m happy to start entertaining theories about deliberate delay.

What I don’t understand, however, is how the visible panic of a few TV lawyers who’ve been wrong every step of the way on the January 6 investigation has led to an all-out panic among Democrats.

The result has been self-inflicted impotence.

No judicial outcome will ever be sufficient, by itself, to beat Trump. No realistic Democrat should be staking their electoral hopes on one or some guilty verdicts — not because they wouldn’t help, but because you can’t control that.

Every single person reading this has in their power the ability to do something — whether it’s local electoral work, repeating discussions of Trump’s corruption so much that it begins to drown out stories about Hunter Biden, or educating your neighbors about Trump’s central role in rolling back reproductive choice — to help defeat Trump. Every second you spend worrying about Karen Henderson is time you’re not doing whatever it is that will be most useful in defeating Trump.

Stop making yourself impotent by worrying about the court cases. Stop hoping that any court case is going to be the Magical Sparkle Pony that makes this easy. Stop wallowing in provably false conspiracy theories about the January 6 investigation that ignore a bunch of public things the TV lawyers don’t talk about.

This is not going to be easy, I promise you. Find some way to make yourself useful to make it, at least, easier.

82 replies
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  2. grizebard says:

    One thing puzzles me about the Childs/AO position on jurisdiction, even assuming they’re right – if the decision is going to filter all the way up to the SC anyway, what matter a “go big” judgement now?

    Given Trump’s endless rapacity, somebody is eventually going to have to conclude once and for all that the Republic can offer no sanctuary anywhere for a wannabe king, no? And the process has to start somewhere.

    • timbozone says:

      A couple of reason for this:

      1. It’s the actual job of the appeals panel to look at this appeal with due diligence, thoroughness, etc.
      2. It is the appeals panels mission to provide any higher appeals courts with less to handle. To do that, they need to cover a lot of issues in their ruling so that there’s less work to do further up the chain.
      3. Whatever ruling they come down with has to tackle the specific aspects of the appeal that they are reasonably able to legally rule on. The very fact that this is a ruling involving several different aspects of separation of powers between the federal branches of government also comes into play here in numerous ways. For example, the claims in the appeal suggest that the Congress may be the only governmental body that gets the right to say whether or not whatever a President does is considered reviewable or not by any organ of Federal or state government…

      I’ve probably left a few other reasons out but those are three major reasons why they need to try to get their ruling internally and externally consistent with how the US Constitution should function and how Federal appeals courts should or shouldn’t take broad or narrow rulings on an important Constitutional question.

  3. Tim Weston says:

    “Trump’s central role in rolling back reproductive choice”. Over at our house, we call that the “2024 Done Deal” !

  4. LuckyCat says:

    People, if you are able, please volunteer to be an election worker. It’s not too late.

    Be one of the people who can say with certainty that you worked the election and you can attest to your precincts veracity. Be the one who has firsthand knowledge of how elections are run and votes are counted. Be the one who challenges those who say the election was stolen and ask them where they were on election day and what they did to ensure the security of every vote.

    I’ve been an election worker for the past five years or so and its incredibly rewarding and helps keep our democracy running smoothly.

    And for those of you who do volunteer, thank you very much and I’ll see you at the polls!

    • RockyGirl says:

      Agree wholeheartedly! I’ve been an election worker for nearly 20 years and look forward to each and every election. Not only is it incredibly rewarding to be part of the process, it’s fun! No, really. The people you will meet are almost uniformly smart, interesting people who are dedicated to making our democracy work on the retail level – and this on both the D and the R side.

      So sign up to work, and get your friends and neighbors to do the same.

      We especially need R workers to participate. Maybe once they see how the system actually works, how many safeguards there are, how committed to honesty and integrity election workers are, they will finally shut up about bogus and non-existent “election fraud.”

  5. Fiendish Thingy says:

    Is “Magic Sparkle Pony” the phrase kids are using these days instead of “Deus Ex Machina”?

      • Alan Charbonneau says:

        At the JoinTheUnion “Partners” page, they list dozens of democracy-oriented organizations that are part of the alliance. From this list, you can filter to your own state.

        Example for the state of Texas, where I live:
        2 Million Texans Project
        Equality Texas
        Jolt Action
        Mothers Against Greg Abbott
        Tarrant County Democratic Party
        Texans Against Gerrymandering
        Texas Blue Action

        I’m thinking of joining “Mothers Against Greg Abbott” ‘cause it sounds so cool. 😁

        Seriously, I’m getting involved via JoinTheUnion.

        • c-i-v-i-l says:

          Thanks for pointing that out. I do wish that they had state-specific lists for all states (my state is among those not listed), but I guess that’s motivation to investigate the work of the varied national partners.

        • c-i-v-i-l says:

          Since you say that you’re in TX, I just saw this tweet from Beto O’Rourke and thought it might interest you:

          Just renewed my Volunteer Deputy Registrar (VDR) certification in El Paso.

          In a state with no online or automatic voter registration, we need more VDRs to help register Texas voters.

          Join us by signing up for a virtual VDR training (takes only 45 mins!):

    • FiestyBlueBird says:

      Thanks for that.

      I’d not used yet, but have been using various working nitter instances listed on a github page. (It does list

      Some work better than others. I was a little reticent to post that github page link here, though; unsure if I’d receive a “don’t do that” warning.

      Thanks for marceelias handle.

  6. rockfarmer says:

    With all the piles of glittery manure in the media barn, there HAS to be a magic sparkle pony here somewhere! Love this post. Legal decisions, as important as they are, will not save democracy in the U.S. Political action across many venues & platforms is required. Thank you for the necessary reminder. One of my favorite organizations to work with is You write letters to individual swing-state voters, supply them with important registration/voting info specific to their area, and briefly tell them why voting is important to you.

    • MyRa-Bo-Byra says:

      Checking out thanks for the recommendation!

      [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the SAME username and email address each time you comment so that community members get to know you. This comment was stuck in moderation because you used what may have been your RL name. I’ve changed it this once to match the username you used later at 7:37 p.m. Please also note that you have used at least (3) variations of this username including “myra_bo_byra” and “myra-bo-byra”; letter case and non-letter characters matter. Comments with future username mismatches may not clear for publication. Thanks. /~Rayne]

    • Fancy Chicken says:

      Oh good!

      I live in very red West Virginia and am not able to do poll work due to health reasons. I’ve been trying to figure out what I can do within my constraints to contribute and vote seems like it might be a good fit where I can feel like I’m actually doing something that will matter.

      Thanks so much for the suggestion- Cheers!

    • Magnet48 says:

      Can I say voting is important to me because I was born on election day, my mother while in labor asked to be permitted to vote at 7 a m before she left for the hospital, & if I’d been a boy I’d be Harry Truman Zubrant? Of course it’s more than that but I love my birth story almost as much as I love this country.

  7. ExRacerX says:

    Thanks for the pep talk, Marcy—and of course, for all the information and insight you provide.

    I’m currently focused on our NM Legislative Session, but when that push is over (3 more weeks), I’ll be pivoting to the national fight against fascism.

    If voting Trump out of office in ’20 was important, keeping him out in ’24 is absolutely crucial.

  8. BobBobCon says:

    Cutting out the “This will only make them stronger” messaging in general is a concrete step everyone can take.

    I cannot count the number of liberals who think they are making a smart point by trying to turn every problem for Trump and the GOP into a positive. “Oh, this will just make the base support him more” or “Now the GOP can fundraise from this.”

    He’s already got his base. The GOP always has issues to demogogue over to raise money. They’re saturated. Bad news for them is bad news.

    It’s demonstrably false that Trump is always invincible, and yet so many liberals seek out intellectual validation by giving more weight to the votes he got than the greater number he lost. There are many challenges before he is defeated, and people should focus on the real ones, instead of the reflexive contrarianism that passes for deep thoughts among the NY Times pundits lost in a $40 airport lounge whiskey.

    • MyRa-Bo-Byra says:

      Agreed BobBobCon. The media spends way too much time on Trumps voters, as opposed to focusing on the concerns of the majority of Americans who voted against him, and the even larger majority of Americans who do not support Trump or the MAGA nuts. But MAGA won’t go easily, even if Trump loses the 2024 election, and a big part of the reason is the craven Republican politicians both currently in and out of government, who are not being consistently vocal in standing up to those who are okay with the MAGA lies and support for authoritarianism. Other than Liz Cheney, the silence from that group continues to be deafening….and costly.

      • Matt___B says:

        craven Republican politicians both currently in and out of government, who are not being consistently vocal

        Not consistently vocal? Who’s vocal at all? Occasionally Romney says something. And recently Larry Kudlow admitted that the economy is good right now. And Ken Buck very occasionally says stuff. Nikki Haley reluctantly admitted that slavery was the cause of the Civil War (but only after being confronted). Other than that, who else on the R side (who is in office) is speaking up at all??

        Among non-office holders, has Chris Christie said anything at all since he withdrew from the race? Does anybody listen to Asa Hutchinson at all? What is George W. Bush’s opinion about any of this? Will Chris Sununu become a Trump supporter after Nikki offically drops out later on? Does Dick Cheney support Liz’s POV?

      • BobBobCon says:

        It’s true that the national press has gone on endless diner safaris to say the meaningless statement that Trump supporters still support Trump, but that doesn’t mean liberals should repeat it.

        There were liberals posturing during the first E. Jean Carroll case it would only make him stronger, but it’s hard to say that it will ever be more than neutral for him and may well hurt him.

        Trump’s path to victory is converting the small percentage of neutral and uninformed voters combined with supressing Biden’s vote. It’s unlikely to be a about rallying a base he already owns.

        So the sooner liberals stop acting like Trump always wins when he has a setback, the better. It’s factually wrong, it’s only self gratification, it’s what dumb pundits have said for years, and it helps Trump demoralize Biden voters.

  9. ApacheTrout says:

    I am pessimistic to believe that citizens working harder will solve our problems when a branch of the government is unaccountable, holds a power balance that is unlikely to change for 10+ years, and is willing to use that power to:

    Accept gerrymandering
    Limit voter rights
    Limit civil rights
    Limit individual rights

    And has no problem using centuries old “jurisprudence” to justify their decisions.

    • grizebard says:

      A self-fulfilling prophesy there, if ever there was one. (Or just another voter-suppression ploy?)

      I for one greatly prefer Marcy’s active positivity.

      • ApacheTrout says:

        I do, as well. It’s why I’m here. It’s why I pay attention to the details of policy, of the language of law. It’s why I vote every year, and why I discuss politics with my friends and neighbors in the hopes of getting them to vote if they haven’t, or changing their minds if they vote R.

        But frankly, to be told that treating the rule of law like ‘magic sparkle pony’ is astonishing, especially from someone who so fully comprehends the function and procedure of the courts. Right now, the Supreme Court appears to be using whim and fancy to create law out of whole cloth. That’s Magical Sparkle Pony theory in action, and recognizing that it has considerable power to negate our efforts is being realistic, not pessimistic.

        • John B.*^ says:

          yes, this is true and like you I spend a lot of time not only arguing, posting, discussing and voting, I was also an elected official for 14 years…voting harder and some point is not the whole story or the answer…the media, the courts especially the highest court and one of our two parties enthralled to a criminal and hell bent on damaging our democracy if not eliminating it makes it damn difficult to see the way forward…each fork in the road is a potential disaster…let’s take only one example…the Supremes ruling on the orange traitor’s candidacy and availability on the ballots is quite likely binary, IOW one or the other; either he is not eligible (what I think is the reality) or that he is because of Reasons…either way is fraught with peril in terms of how one side or the other reacts…uncharted territory…the terra is not firma.

        • Greg Hunter says:

          “Right now, the Supreme Court appears to be using whim and fancy to create law out of whole cloth.”

          The Founders never foresaw that the true believers of the Judeo-Christian Faiths coalesce around a demigod.

          I have maintained that I will not accept 6 Catholics’ interpretations of the Bible let alone the US Constitution.

          That is the root of my faith but we arrived at this place because we did not press for a complete minority right when Roe decided that the Power of the State can interfere after the quickening,

          Education not regulation is our less government approach to something that is clearly a Constitutional Right. The weighty decision to introduce a person to our collective care should be up to an encumbered citizen.

    • Baltimark says:

      If you’ve never fought a fight against the odds, then we’ll see you when the dust settles and maybe you can buy us a round for our efforts.

    • Rayne says:

      And your disseminated pessimism does what positive constructive thing to address the scenario you described? Does it encourage voters to get out to the polls? Does it register new voters? Does it help get marginalized people who need ID and ride to the polls? Does it boost morale of voters who are easily preyed upon upon by online influence operations which discourage them from voting?

      Don’t bring that crap here in the same thread in which Marcy is telling people to get busy. Jesus fucking Christ just go do something more constructive.

      • ApacheTrout says:

        I donate my money and my time. I’ve driven political candidates around so they can meet voters. I’ve phone banked. I’ve registered voters. What more can an individual do?

        None of that changes the reality of the Supreme Court’s power.

        • Rayne says:

          There’s always more to do, beginning with not undermining your own work by dumping pessimism where people are being encouraged to do something constructive.

        • Fiendish Thingy says:

          You know what can change the current reality of the Supreme Court’s power?

          Electing enough of the right kind of Democrats to kill the filibuster and expand the court (and a president who will sign that bill and pack the new vacancies with progressive justices).

          That may not be feasible until 2029 (with President Whitmer), but to get there we first have to defeat Trump and Trumpism.

          • GlennDexter says:

            SC decisions can be reversed by the right legislation. Exactly why we need to work together and get legislators elected who are willing to do the work we need and want. The GOP is money broke, while Trump fundraises to pay his legal bills. We can push back at the media narrative. Republicans have nothing to offer the citizenry.

  10. Badger Robert says:

    Its going to come down to telling people that they cannot be our friends if they are going to vote for a fascist. Being a Republican is one thing. Voting for a fascist is another.
    As for the appellate court, they are trying to get it right. Presidents aren’t indicted very often, maybe never before.

    • P J Evans says:

      That’s already happening, over Palestine. The purists are condemning everyone who doesn’t agree with them.

      • Badger Robert says:

        Excellent question. Have we had many avowed fascists, who have also been found to be lying, defaming rapists run for President? Hopefully this will be the only time things have to be taken to that extreme.

  11. Badger Robert says:

    1. The situation is unique. This decision will have virtually no precedential value except in reference to Trump.
    2. A big part of an appellate decision is the standard of review. I think here they have to review as if the allegations in the indictment can be proven.
    3. The President obviously does have an area of immunity. That area probably does not cover most actions taken domestically.
    In general I could not agree more with Ms. Wheeler.

    • brucefan says:

      Re: your third point.

      If one were writing a legal memorandum on this topic one might start out like Nixon v. Fitzgerald and decide where to split the hair (which they did badly, IMO).


      (1) There is no absolute immunity (all actions) under current law and Trump has not established that there should be absolute immunity, and (2) Trump has not established that there should be immunity for the actions alleged by the prosecutor.

      • timbozone says:

        Immunity is a doubtful legal construct that never was in the Constitution in the first place. If the Framers had wanted a king, they would have said so. And there ain’t no king in the document.

  12. Drew in Bronx says:

    Thanks. I’ve been thinking all along (or at least since the indictments started dropping) that the courts aren’t going to save us, and we need to beat Trump via political process, even though he should be both disqualified and convicted multiple times.

    My spouse and I drove out to Long Island on Saturday to canvass for Tom Suozzi, among my least favorite Democrats. But his GOP opponent is running as a member of the Israeli Defense Force and Trump sycophant, so it’s God’s work nonetheless. Narrowing the GOP house margin can’t hurt, might contribute to destabilizing Johnson, who is more pernicious than we like to think.

    • Matt___B says:

      But his GOP opponent is running as a member of the Israeli Defense Force

      Speaking of which…did you know that at least 2 of Netanyahu’s hard-right cabinet members are leaders of the West Bank settlement crusade and actually live in the West Bank?

  13. VinnieGambone says:

    The perfect drink for those who love the high of being drunk with power.

    Can you imagine what Trump’s behavior will be like if they rule he has absolute immunity and he is reelected ?

    I’m with you Ms Wheeler. It’s knock and drag time. Do not fail to learn who the Biden votes might be in your neighborhood , and do not fail to engage.

    I am shooting for 100,000 more votes in Philadelphia, to lock a Biden win in Pennsylvania.

    Stop obsessing about Trump.
    Start and don’t stop talking Biden.

    • Grain of Sand says:

      I agree with you, Vinnie. Engage in your neighborhood. Join together with a group of your neighbors and expand your network. Put out the yard (or window) signs early this year.

  14. Steve The Stairman says:

    I fully expect Trump sole skill in the court, delay, along with the SCOTUS self interest in not deciding against Trump to s-t-r-e-t-c-h out the prosecutions until after Nov. In the end this is best for the country as anyone other then Trump will receive the bonus of an angry GOP base, while dampening the perceived threat of MAGA to the Democrats. Better to kick their butts up and down the ladder.

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the SAME username and email address each time you comment so that community members get to know you. Your last published comment was under username “Stevebreeze.” Pick a username and stick with it on all future comments. Thanks. /~Rayne]

  15. WilliamOckham says:

    I agree with every word of this post after the sentence that starts with “What I don’t understand”. My profound disagreement with the first part of the post only makes me feel the urgency of the second part even more.

    Let me explain. No, it is too much. Let me sum up.

    I believe that Dr. Wheeler is giving far too much credence to Trump’s legal arguments and excusing the inexcusable on the part of this Appeals Court panel.

    Let’s start with the question of jurisdiction. While it might be a close call (reminder: I’m not a lawyer), it can’t possibly be a complicated one. Either you think Midland Asphalt controls or you don’t. If at least two of the judges think it does, the one and only responsibility of this panel is to deny the appeal as quickly as possible. Taking more than a week to write a decision that simple would be judicial malpractice.

    So, at this point, the only sane conclusion is that they’ve decided they have jurisdiction and they’re arguing over the merits. But, and I can’t say this strongly enough, WHAT ACTUAL FUCKING MERITS? I read Trump’s brief. I listened to most of the oral arguments. It’s not as if Abbe Lowell wrote Trump’s brief and argued his case.

    Instead, Trump’s coterie of lawyers barfed up the legal equivalent of “Nanny-nanny boo-boo, you can’t make me”. I don’t need to be lawyer to recognize hogwash when I see it. Appeals Court panels are supposed to rule on the case presented to them, not some Platonic ideal of the argument that could’ve been made.

    The idea that “if they get this wrong, it’s going to lead to far longer delays at both the en banc and SCOTUS level” is dead wrong. These three judges are as powerless to affect SCOTUS as we are to affect these judges’ decision. And if that’s what they’re trying to do, it will lead to their own self-inflicted impotence. SCOTUS is either in the tank for Trump or they aren’t. If they aren’t, the panel’s judgement will be upheld because it’s a straightforward decision: Dictator or No Dictator.

    When a court gets this sort of SovCit level junk, delivered by a wanna-be American dictator, if they don’t rule quickly, they are aiding and abetting an on-going attempted coup. Trump’s legal efforts are part and parcel of his larger agenda of using intentional violence and fear to achieve his political aims. And that is the literal definition of terrorism. Investing this nonsense with a patina of respectability by “careful deliberation” undermines the rule of law.

    In addition to all the things that Dr. Wheeler suggests we do, I want to add one more thing. Start mentally preparing yourself for the real possibility that we’re going to have to take to the streets to prevent Trump from stealing the election. He never has and he never will admit that he lost an election. Our institutional guard rails barely held on Jan6. No one knows if they will be up to the task this time around. The time to prepare for the crisis is now.

    That means learning how to mount an effective non-violent resistance in the face of violent mobs who will sometimes have the cops on their side. The way of non-violence is not the easy path. It requires training, coordination, commitment, and creativity. I will pray that we never need to demonstrate those skills here and work as if it is inevitable that we will.

    • emptywheel says:

      You know I love you, WO, but that’s too simple.

      While it might be a close call (reminder: I’m not a lawyer), it can’t possibly be a complicated one. Either you think Midland Asphalt controls or you don’t. If at least two of the judges think it does, the one and only responsibility of this panel is to deny the appeal as quickly as possible.

      The jurisdiction question will be answered in one of two ways: with Childs saying, no jurisdiction and Pan and Henderson disagreeing about the basis for it, or with Pan and Childs adopting provisional jurisdiction, which will require a sub-opinion on that, parallel to Henderson adopting a more robust claim to jurisdiction.

      If it’s the former, then writing the merits will be a shitshow, because Pan and Henderson don’t agree, and Childs’ agreement in theory with Pan will be wasted given her opposition on jurisdiction.

      If it’s the latter, the merits gets a lot easier, once you’ve written the sub-opinion to get there.

    • EuroTark says:

      Part of the issue is that US presidents do have some form of immunity; particularly when it comes to issues of national security. It’s what allowed Obama to go unpunished for killing al-Awlaki junior and senior, both of which were US citizens. Similarly Trump is wanted internationally for ordering the killing of Soleimani, something he’s bragged about doing. Personally, I’d preferred if they were persecuted for these crimes, but I find that highly unlikely.

      • Rayne says:

        No. Do NOT conflate the immunity the Executive is granted in the course of their role which includes Commander in Chief of the military with what Trump is demanding as a private citizen who is a former Executive.

        That you’re bringing this up as “part of the issue” only helps Trump’s effort to fuzz his status once Biden was inaugurated. There is no “issue.” Private citizen Trump stole documents belonging to the U.S. and then obstructed efforts to recover them and investigate their location.

    • sillybill says:

      I must disagree with any statement along the lines of ‘I am not a lawyer but it cant be that complicated’.
      We’ve seen entirely to many examples of seemingly simple things made into tangled spaghetti piles of legalese to continue entertaining such an idea. The oppositions lawyers are being paid big bucks to make it complicated.
      I absolutely agree w the 2nd part of your comment tho, Trump and many of his supporters will never stop trying to subvert the election, some of them absolutely will use and encourage violence. We should prepare ourselves in all the ways you mentioned.

  16. P’villain says:

    I’m irked but not panicking over the unexpected delay, but hell yes I want a trial and a verdict before November. Lots of Republicans telling pollsters that voting for a convicted felon is a bridge too far for them.

    • CaptainCondorcet says:

      Polls have had a glaring substantive weak spot for a few years now, polls of Trump supporters more so, and polls about Trump even more so. It’s too long a comment to go into all that here (though Pew has a good article arguing why some polls may still work fine), but do not hold your breath for those respondents to deliver on that promise.

      • timbozone says:

        Basically, the polls never ask “Would your opinion be different if you didn’t live in a paranoid red state where you might face potential vigilantism?”

      • ExRacerX says:

        Nice—I’d almost forgotten that NM was the first to set the precedent with Cowboys for Trump insurrectionist Couy Griffin.

        Go, Norma!

  17. Stephen Calhoun says:

    (For people who have not worked elections.) In the run-up to 2016, the principle volunteer activities were voter registration and, closer to the election, door-to-door canvassing. I registered a few voters yet I knocked on hundreds of doors of registered voters affiliated with the Democratic party. My canvassing effort in Lyndhurst and University Heghts Ohio on the east side of Cleveland was equal parts enjoyable and disturbing. One could also opt to work phone banks and do GOTV.

    The 2020 run-up was weighted down by the pandemic. Still, the Democratic Party had designed and built out an application for working voter lists by phone and text messaging. One strength of leveraging technology at the time was much quicker updating of the registries. (Door-to-door canvassing results of voter encounters had to be keyed-in by hand.) Hopefully, phone apps and hand-held technology will be a common tool this cycle for door-to-door outreach.

    Another strength of virtual canvassing is that volunteers could virtually deploy to other states and, for example, call Michigan voters from the lost cause state of Ohio. This gets amplified close to the election.

    web search: vote blue volunteer phone —you come up with lots of resources and organizers.

    Because the Democratic Party can sometimes be its own enemy, I note their vote-blue portal hasn’t been updated for two years! However: seems current.

    Volunteer-Blue is current.


    Early in the campaign is a good time to work raw lists to locate and encourage unregistered voters to register. Face-to-face registration is always active.

    Phone banking is easy and also is a window into the electorate.

    FWIW, registration and GOTV are, apparently, proven as effective approaches in comparison to ‘trying to change minds.’

  18. David Brooks says:

    I know this thread is already long, but there’s a Constitutional issue that I haven’t seen addressed. The fact that even Trump’s lawyers haven’t used it makes me think I’m missing something.

    Conveniently ignoring the primaries for now (which may be what I’m missing), Trump can’t be removed from the November ballot because he wouldn’t be on it in the first place. We vote for Electors, conveniently parcelled up in pledged bundles. If they are defined as “office” holders, insurrectionists can be disqualified, but that leaves plenty of potential Trumpists.

    That means the College and the 1/6/25 Congress could be faced with votes pledged to a categorically DQ’d nominee. What fun!

    • timbozone says:

      The argument is that the states shouldn’t be allowed to have Trump’s name on the primary ballots at this point though. Similarly, the states might not be required to put the name of a candidate on the ballot that is ineligible. It’s an issue of what the Constitution requires the states to do and not do.

      • David Brooks says:

        I do wonder if, by chasing this particular issue, the Supremes could accidentally on purpose strengthen the hands of the Independent State Legislature absolutists.

        • timbozone says:

          It’s possible but unlikely?

          The thing is this: State legislatures pass laws within the legal framework designated in the individual state Constitutions, each of which is unique to that state; each states has their own unique ratified state Constitution. That is, the states themselves have separate legal frameworks and those legislature’s in those states have enacted laws that govern how they conduct elections, including the selection of Electors for the Electoral College. In effect, the state legislatures have already chosen the manner in which the Electors have already legislated how this works and they would have to basically undo that >legallyafter a legally conducted election of electors by popular votelegally conductedequallyillegally< supplanted by their own state legislature. In fact, it is more likely that a state's electoral votes would not be counted at all if the law-suits and counter-lawsuits that would ensue were not extremely clear cut…and that's in the case where there was some sort of basis for a given legislature to even do this legally at all.

  19. Fran of the North says:

    The title and talk of Sparkle Ponies crystalizes this thought:

    The old guard of the GOP has been placing their hope for salvation from the MAGA crowd and its leader on numerous Sparkle Ponies. First it was impeachment, and then impeachment again, followed by J6, classified docs and various civil and criminal trial. What the Repubs HAVEN’T been willing to do is the hard work of standing up and telling their constituents, both MAGA and otherwise, that Trump is the problem, not the solution.

    Let us not repeat their mistake!

  20. Curious2024 says:

    Long-time lurker here, I love the thoughtful, well-reasoned analysis on EW.

    I just came across a TED talk that resonates strongly. On the one hand, with the desire for decency to “win the day”. On the other, the deep concern for the effects of polarisation and hatred on society.

    The talk is by Daryl Davis, called “Why I, as a black man, attend KKK rallies”.

    “ignorance breeds fear. We fear things we do not understand. If we do not keep that fear in check, that few, in run, will breed hatred because we hate those things that frighten us. If we do not keep that hatred in check, that hatred, in turn will breed destruction. We want to destroy those things that we hate. Why? Because they cause us to be afraid.”

    That hatred that comes with polarisation – we have to find ways to deal with it.

    As Daryl says: “Respect is the key. Sitting down and talking – not necessarily agreeing – but respecting each other to air their points of view.”

    And as commenter @danak2230 on the youtube video said: “I took a Psychology of Prejudice class in college and the thing that has always stuck with me was the fact that the only things shown to lessen a person’s prejudice against a certain group is to have a positive interaction with someone from that group. The effect is even greater if they succeed on a task together. Daryl may not be a psychologist but he adhered to that principle.”

    It comes back to the idea that everyone can do something to impact this year’s election result.

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