Jonathan Turley:  Democrat Party Hates Trump more than it Loves America

As a lifelong Democrat from a prominent Chicago family, I can no longer recognize my Party. We once stood for something other than winning the next election or hating others.  I don’t know how we got to this point as the Democrat Party.  This is a Party that is now actively supporting censorship and blacklisting.  It’s a Party that has supported ballot cleansing and court packing.  It’s a Party where you’ve got people like Senator McCaskill calling witnesses “Putin lovers” because [they criticize] the Biden administration.   You have Democrat Party members saying that you are a Russian fellow traveller if you raise questions related to the Biden corruption scandal.  … [W]hat have we [Democrats] become?  What do we stand for?  [The Democrat Party] is unrecognizable for many of us who have been lifelong Democrats.  We used to stand for something and it appears [that now] it’s just about the next election or its about hating Trump more than loving other values like free speech. … The Democrat Party used to treat free speech as one of the defining values of the Party.  [It’s] is now an anti-free speech Party.  It is [now] actively pursuing censorship, blacklisting, funding groups to go after even the revenues of sites that they don’t like on the Right.

Jonathan Turley, Foxnews, March 22 2024

GWU Law professor and constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley is not a Republican or conservative.  He is a self-described liberal who voted for Obama and Hillary for president.  He was ranked 38th in the 100 most influential intellectuals and the 2nd most cited law professor in 2001. “Liberal” or “progressive” convictions go deep in his family. His father, Jack Turley, a Chicago architect, was active in liberal Chicago causes to assist the impoverished.  His mother, Angela Piazza Turley, was a social worker who worked with the Jane Addams Hull House in Chicago that “champion[ed] national child labor laws, women’s suffrage, a children’s bureau, unemployment compensation, workers’ compensation, and other elements of the Progressive agenda during the first two decades of the twentieth century.”  It doesn’t get much better than this if one is a liberal.

Unfortunately, for what remains of the Democrat Party after the Obama (the media’s
“scandal free” president that knew about the Trump-Russia collusion hoax and did nothing to stop it) and Biden years, Turley has certain unfortunate character flaws.  First, he actually has common sense.  Academia did not manage to destroy that in him.  Second, he insists on telling the truth, even if it contradicts his own political preferences.  Third, he actually understands what it means to have a “rule of law”, that is, he understands that the legal code is not just a longwinded way of saying “Me first!”  

As a consequence, Turley has criticized Donald Trump, for example, he has harshly criticized Trump’s attacks on judges: “Prominent law professor Jonathan Turley said the criticism President Trump’s legal team directed at federal judges that ruled against them threatens to undermine our legal system as a whole.”  Turley has also said that Trump’s comments to the crowd on Jan. 6th 2021 were unwise, even though they do not amount to an insurrection.  In this, he would seem on agree with Jack Smith who has not charged Trump with insurrection, as much as Smith and what passes for our “news” media would like to do so.  Significantly, polls indicate that the American people agree with Turley and see Jan. 6 as a protest that turned into a riot but not an insurrection.  Unfortunately, none of this is enough for Turley’s leftist critics who require complete totalitarian submission to the script.  Precise distinctions and rational argument are no longer welcome, even though the law requires precisely that. 

Since Turley has managed to retain his integrity in a time in which corruption and incompetence are rewarded, he has called out his own Democrat Party for having abandoned everything it once stood for.  Today’s Democrat Party comically claims to be defending democracy even as they reject free speech and call for censorship of their political opponents, use dirty tricks to defund groups that disagree with them, support blacklisting (just like Eugene McCarthy) and, of course, not only trying to imprison their main political opponent, Donald Trump, but even attempting to ruin both him and his family.  Today’s Democrat Party runs on “hating Trump more than loving other values like free speech.”   One does not have to be a constitutional scholar to know that none of this is going to end well for the country.  The Democrat Party has become everything it used to reject. 

Naturally the Left does not see it this way.  Robert Weisberg (Stanford Law) asks, “What happened to Jonathan Turley?” who, he admits, “was once a serious and respected legal scholar”.   Unfortunately, Weisberg’s, so to speak, “argument,” is a series of informal fallacies.  Weisberg points out that Turley began to “pop-up” on dreaded Foxnews shows, the “clownish” Fox and Friends in the morning and the “demagogic” Fox shows at night.  Also taking a dig at Alan Dershowitz, Weisberg says that Turley began to position himself as “Alan Dershowitz with table manners.”  Turley criticized the Obama administration (which, apparently, he did not know is streng verboten), thereby reinforcing the “Fox conservative meme of the day.”  That’s not allowed anymore.  Further, Turley “shows up” on Fox where his “chastising of liberals and progressives has become obsessive and compulsive.”   Weisberg is also, apparently, a psychiatrist (and one who diagnoses OCD long distance).  In addition, Turley’s tweets and blogs are “rendered in a sober scholarly tone with pearl-clutching sanctimonious nostalgia for some pre-political era of American law.”   All of the above “arguments” have a name.  Any first-year community college critical reasoning textbook will expose them as versions of ad hominem fallacies.  What one does not find in Weisberg’s critique is a rational critique of Turley’s arguments for his positions.

This relates to the doctrine of common law quoted at the top of Turley’s internet page: “Res ipsa loquitur – The thing itself speaks”.  The point is that in the law one is supposed to address “the thing itself,” in the present case, Turley’s actual arguments against Democrat lawfare, censorship, blacklisting, etc.   What one tends to get from Democrats nowadays, and what one gets from Weisberg’s attacks, is anything but “the thing itself”.   One gets rather innuendo and ad hominem smears. The fact that Turley appears on Fox News is irrelevant, that he appears “obsessive”, etc., has nothing to do with “the thing itself” at issue.

So, the answer to Weisberg’s question, “What happened to Turley?” is straightforward.  Nothing happened to Turley.  Rather, something happened to virtually everyone else who, motivated by hatred, lost their way, and in the process lost what presumably led them to the law in the first place as idealistic young people.

Jonathan Turley’s politics is probably different from my own.  I cannot imagine voting for Obama or Hillary.  But Jonathan Turley is a national treasure, a rare honest man standing almost alone in the legal profession in a time of widespread corruption.

Socrates to his accuser, Meletus: “Then every [citizen] improves and elevates [the youth]; and I [Socrates] alone am their corrupter?  Is that what you affirm?

Plato, Apology

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Richard McDonough

Richard Michael McDonough, American philosophy educator. Achievements include production of original interpretation of Wittgenstein’s logical-metaphysical system, original application Kantian Copernican Revolution to philosophy of language; significant interdisciplinary work logic, linguistics, psychology & philosophy. Member Australasian Debating Federation (honorary life, adjudicator since 1991), Phi Kappa Phi.

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One Comment

  1. Prof. McDonough writes a heartfelt essay about the integrity of Jonathan Turley, a lifelong liberal who wants to distance himself from and often criticizes Democrat leaders. Like McDonough I could never imagine myself voting for Hillary or Obama (as did Turley) but that personal history makes his criticism of the Dems (Dumbs?) even more persuasive for many. I had a very difficult commute to teach my philosophy classes today, and am turning in with thanksgiving that I was able to endure the congestion. But I am especially thankful that I read this article before putting my head on my pillow.

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