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My Never-Trump Elegy
Shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, the author John le Carré’s most famous creation, the fictional British spy George Smiley, reflected on a career spent fighting a now-vanquished enemy.“There are some people,” Smiley said at a dinner among young recruits to the Secret Service, “who, when their past is threatened, get frightened of losing everything they thought they had, and perhaps everything they thought they were as well. Now I don’t feel that one bit. The purpose of my life was to end the time I lived in.”With a bit more pensiveness, Smiley adds: “Or perhaps … our troubles are just beginning.”I think of this passage often, not only because I spent the first part of my career fighting (in my own small and mostly insignificant way) the Cold War, but also because I have spent the most recent part of my career fighting the possible rise of authoritarianism in my own country. I was a founding member of the band of Republican defectors known as the Never Trumpers, and one way or another, “the times I have lived in”—the movement to protect American democracy from Donald Trump and to stop his reelection—will come to an end in November.I am not confidently predicting victory. I am too scarred by the horrific outcome of the 2016 election to count any chickens, no matter how alive and clucking they might seem. But win or lose, our goal will become something else. When my friends—including the few I have left among the conservatives—ask what the Never Trumpers will do now, I say with all honesty that I am not sure.[Robert P. Saldin and Steven M. Teles: The last anti-Trump Republicans are biding their time]What I do know is that, regardless of what any one of us does individually, two aspects of the Never Trump movement will outlast Trump. First, we will always be able to say that when Trump and his thugs took over the Republican Party and then the elected branches of the United States government, we did not cut and run. We stood and fought.Second, these four years have confirmed to us that Trump’s moral corruption of the Republican Party is total, from top to bottom. Our current alliances with our liberal friends may not be a permanent realignment. But I don’t believe that those of us who opposed Trump will declare that bygones are bygones with conservatives who supported him and go back to partisanship as usual.The fact that we didn’t run is more than a point of pride. Other conservatives who spoke privately and sometimes publicly of Trump with utter contempt in 2016 buckled that November. Some had even signed letters during the election saying that they’d never work for Trump, but when he won, they groveled and asked for just one more glimpse of the throne.I believe that if all of us had caved, Trump would now be much closer to victory, not just at the polls, but over the Constitution itself. Many of us instead held firm and made the case for democracy and the rule of law from the right flank against our own tribe.We all paid for our dissent, in various ways.While some lost money, all lost friends. A few needed law enforcement to step in because of threats to their lives and to their families.For my own part, I naively thought at the start of this madness that no one would much care what I said about Trump, at least any more than they did about my previous writing on politics. Besides, the fight among the conservatives was mostly brewing in Washington, D.C., and I was a middle-aged professor living on the quiet shores of Rhode Island. I was wrong.Early in 2016, I said (in a conservative magazine, The Federalist, that has since fallen to the Trumpist fever) that I would take Hillary Clinton over Trump. As a lifelong conservative choosing “Crooked Hillary” over the “Swamp Drainer,” I received a short burst of interest, especially from talk radio. Then, that summer, I wrote a piece on how I became a Never Trumper for The New York Times Magazine.I was at my church’s annual Greek festival, about to grab some souvlaki and baklava with my young daughter, when my phone rang.“Have you seen Breitbart?” a colleague asked.“When have I ever read Breitbart?” I responded. (I had been asked some years earlier to be a contributor when the publication launched. I had turned it down flat.)“Well, because they’re trying to get you fired,” my friend said.I am a professor. But because I teach at a military institution, I am a Defense Department employee and I am therefore bound by the Hatch Act, which prohibits government employees from using their positions for political purposes. Breitbart claimed I was breaking that law. (This is where I am duty-bound to remind you that I do not speak in any way for the U.S. government or any of its agencies.) As it turned out, even before the Breitbart story dropped, my employer had already determined that I had not violated any laws or regulations.[Sarah Longwell: Why people who hate Trump stick with him]I spent decades studying repressive regimes, but I always did so with the swagger of a man who holds an American passport. Other people had to fight for their rights, not me. Now I was accused of legal wrongdoing for expressing my political views as a private citizen. For the first time in my life, I felt like a dissident.That summer, I sat down with my wife and members of my family. Continuing to write about Trump could mean serious financial hardship. I had a lifetime contract with the Navy, but no contract is unbreakable. We were facing real risk, and I wanted to know their feelings.The people I care most about in the world all told me the same thing: Fight.So I went on the offensive, writing and speaking out even more. If Trump’s minions were determined to curtail my constitutional rights, I was more determined to exercise them. I became intimately familiar with the Hatch Act and its provisions—and I obeyed it far more scrupulously than anyone in the Trump White House—but that did not stop the regular waves of emails and phone calls over the next four years, usually spurred by some Trump-supporting website or talk-show host, demanding that I be fired.Over time, my critics moved on to various other charges, including that I was personally unfit to associate with officers of the U.S. military, that I was an agent of the “deep state,” and even that I was a Russian asset and therefore a security risk.As they did with all of us in the Never Trump camp, the president’s most fanatical supporters accused me of outright treason. They demanded my arrest. Some sent messages telling me that they looked forward to my official execution or other versions of my untimely death. In some cases, I had to pass these threats on to federal law enforcement for assessment of risk not only to me, but to my community.The Trump faithful also accused us of trying to get rich on our Never Trump status. Yes, the founders of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project are now taking in lots of donations—but that was after burning personal and financial bridges to the Republican Party that sustained them and built their handsome homes over the years. (For the record, I have received zero compensation for my association with the Lincoln Project, but I hope the owners of the organization get plenty rich. They’ve earned it.) For most of us, media appearances came only with a ride to the studio and free coffee. (At 30 Rock in New York, at least it was Starbucks.) The short pieces we all wrote—much like this one—generated a small fee that could pay for a nice dinner and maybe a bottle of wine. I am a successful author, but none of my books are about Trump, and to this day, I don’t even have an agent. If we’d been in it for our own enrichment, we’d have made the smart play and signed on with Trump, because that’s where the money was right from the start.As we approach Election Day, my career and my constitutional rights remain intact. I have made my case against the president loudly and clearly.Now that it looks like Trump is headed for defeat, some Republicans feel safe to criticize him again. But courage exercised only when the coast is clear is not courage; it is opportunism. Seeing someone such as Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska or the ever-troubled Senator Susan Collins of Maine rediscover their voices now that the die seems to be cast is not particularly inspiring.These late conversions to opposing Trump mean nothing, at least to me. The experience of fighting taught the Never Trumpers how much the president had poisoned the Republican Party and long ago exposed the character of many of our former comrades. Some turned out to be as racist and authoritarian as Trump himself, while others merely confirmed that they were little more than vacuous opportunists who were capable of betraying the Constitution at will.[Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes: The revenge of the Never Trumpers]This is why, when Trump is gone (whether after this election or in 2024), I will continue to oppose everyone who had anything to do with inflicting this scar on American history, long after the members of the Trump family are finally bankrupt, in rehab, in jail, or living in seclusion in Manhattan among the neighbors who already despise them.Whether it is Nikki Haley or Tom Cotton running for president or Fox’s prime-time lineup bolstering Trump’s underlings, for as long as I have a public platform, I will contend that these are people who betrayed the principles of our system of government for their own gain and that my fellow citizens should refuse to give them votes or ratings.And what if Trump wins? If that happens, America will become a different country, and we will all enter the first iteration of an American dictatorship. At a minimum, I will join with other civil libertarians to limit the speed and depth with which the president will take us into authoritarianism. The fight will be a rearguard action, and we will likely lose. But I didn’t run the first time Trump was elected, and I won’t run if it happens again.I hope that this is purely alarmism on my part. As Smiley said over his brandy, “if my past were still around today, you could say I’d failed.” But as the election approaches, I prefer to think about my time as a Never Trumper by recalling the old spy’s final words to those young students:“Never mind. What matters is that a long war is over. What matters is the hope.”
The Absent Bloc That Could Decide the U.S. Election
Election Day has already happened for the more than 75 million Americans who have cast their ballot via mail or early in-person voting this year, far surpassing 2016’s numbers. This surge has been prompted in part by the pandemic and apprehension about crowded polling stations on November 3, as well as concerns over the Trump administration’s efforts to hobble the U.S. Postal Service in the run-up to the vote (sparking worries that the service would not be able to handle a short-term surge).For a small subset of people, though, these ostensibly new voting challenges—mail-in ballots, deadlines, and disparate state rules—aren’t new at all: Americans living overseas have had to contend with absentee-voter registration and mail-in deadlines long before the pandemic. Like their stateside counterparts, these Americans want to ensure that their vote is counted. And despite belonging to a group that has historically sat out elections, this time they are poised to turn out in record numbers.If they do, overseas Americans won’t just be shaking off their reputation as a relatively silent voting bloc. In some of the close contests that will decide who ultimately takes the White House—particularly in states such as Michigan and Florida—they could be a determining factor.When it comes to elections, overseas Americans are an easy group to forget. This diverse collection of émigrés, members of the military, and children of American parents are not only physically absent, but relatively few in number: David Beirne, the director of the Federal Voting Assistance Program, told me that about 5.5 million of them are scattered across the globe—a constituency that, together, makes up the population of South Carolina. Three million of them are eligible to vote, though only a small fraction do.This could be attributed to the fact that voting hasn’t always been a straightforward process for expatriates. Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat, a Munich-based American who has lived outside the U.S. for 25 years, told me that until the early aughts, Americans seeking to cast their vote from abroad had to fill out a blurry paper form and consult a 500-page instruction book—one that she said often included outdated information on where to send absentee-ballot requests. This archaic system inspired her to create the Overseas Vote 2004 initiative, to enable overseas citizens to register and request their ballot online. “These original civic-tech innovations that we had imbued into the system became a model for the government,” Dzieduszycka-Suinat said. Now, thanks to the 2009 Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, states are required to provide voter-registration and ballot-request services online and must dispatch ballots to voters at least 45 days prior to Election Day.Though these innovations have certainly made voting easier for Americans overseas, turnout remains low: Only 7 percent of Americans abroad voted in the 2016 election, compared with 72 percent stateside, and just 4.7 percent voted in the 2018 midterms, compared with 65 percent stateside. It’s a discrepancy the FVAP attributes in part to voting obstacles: Not only must Americans abroad take into account factors such as mail speeds (my ballot, for example, took just under two weeks to travel from London to California) and the wide variability of individual states’ voting laws, but they also need to ensure that their ballot is perfect—mismatched signatures or a missed deadline could cause the ballot to be rejected.[David Graham: Signed, sealed, delivered—then discarded]Americans in the U.S. face similar challenges, but have an advantage over their overseas counterparts: While U.S.-based voters are being encouraged to hand deliver their ballots to their local clerk or ballot-drop location if they’re worried it won’t arrive by mail in time, Americans abroad don’t have that luxury. Instead, many have to opt for commercial couriers, which can be prohibitively expensive (though some companies are offering discounts for overseas ballots from select countries). The heavy curtailment of international flights as a result of the pandemic has also meant that many of those willing to fly home to cast their ballot cannot do so.The factors that have made voting more challenging this year are paradoxically the same ones that appear to be driving more Americans to vote early, including those living abroad. Dzieduszycka-Suinat, now the president and CEO of the U.S. Vote Foundation, said that its Overseas Vote initiative has seen a 150 percent increase in website traffic and absentee-ballot request-form generation compared with 2016—a rise that began as early as June. Beirne from the FVAP, which also provides online voter-registration services, said that upwards of 648,000 overseas ballot-request forms had been downloaded from its website as of October 13, far surpassing the 384,180 forms downloaded ahead of the 2016 vote. Nearly 37,000 federal write-in absentee ballots, an emergency backup for citizens who don’t receive a ballot from their state election officials in time to meet the voting deadline, were also downloaded. Vote From Abroad, an online voter-registration platform run by Democrats Abroad, the international arm of the Democratic Party, has seen more than two and a half times as many visitors this year as it did in 2016.A number of states, which like the FVAP and other online services also field ballot requests directly from voters, are reporting increases over previous years too. “Many voters contacting us … have never voted in an American election,” Debra O’Malley, a spokesperson for the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, told me in an email, noting that the state has fielded nearly 17,000 overseas ballot requests this year, compared with 10,513 in 2016. Increases have also been observed in Michigan (20,316 ballots, up from 14,782 in 2016), New York (58,330 ballots, up from 47,000), Washington (42,285, up from 27,917), South Carolina (13,465, up from 8,621), and Vermont (3,245, up from 2,723).Ballot requests don’t tell the full story, though: Of the total number of ballots that are mailed out to overseas voters each election, as few as half are returned. During the 2018 midterm elections, for example, just over a quarter of Americans in Germany requested a ballot, and only about half of them ultimately cast it. Similar discrepancies were seen among American voters in Canada, the U.K., France, Switzerland, and Japan. And it’s not just a midterm phenomenon: Of the 930,000 ballots sent to overseas and military voters during the 2016 election, 633,000 were returned. Of those, just 512,696 were counted.None of this is to say that overseas voters don’t make a difference. To the contrary, they could tip the balance in close races—particularly in competitive states such as Florida, which are poised to determine which party takes the White House. “This is where we can really come back and make a difference,” Julia Bryan, the global chair of Democrats Abroad, told me, noting that nearly half of overseas voters cast their ballot in swing states in the last presidential election.Overseas voters have emerged as the deciding factor in previous contests, perhaps most notably during the 2000 presidential contest, in which delayed overseas ballots gave George W. Bush a narrow 537-vote lead over Al Gore in Florida. The same could happen again: As my colleague Edward-Isaac Dovere reported, Trump won the battleground state of Michigan by a narrow margin of 11,000 votes in 2016—a state where an estimated 21,000 overseas Americans are registered, but where only 17,000 cast their ballot. More than 20,000 have requested ballots from Michigan this year. If enough of them actually vote, they could play a role in deciding which way the state swings.“It could be a banner year for overseas voters,” Dzieduszycka-Suinat said. “The services are up everywhere, they’re easier to use than they ever were in the past, and the voters are finding them. I think it’s going to make a difference this time around.”[Barton Gellman: The election that could break America]Here in Britain, which hosts the largest population of American voters outside of North America, Republican and Democratic organizers attribute increased voter activity to the state of the U.S. itself. Though American politics has always traveled easily across the pond, this administration has attracted an unusual amount of attention—not all of it positive. “There is an unbelievably strong determination to get rid of Trump,” Inge Kjemtrup, the U.K. chair of Democrats Abroad, told me, noting that her team has been approached by Americans who haven’t voted in decades. Even those who typically vote seem to be more worried about it than usual.Sarah Elliott, the U.K. chair of Republicans Overseas, told me that she too has observed an uptick in voter activity—including among those who have never voted Republican before. “We just see America drifting very quickly [into] becoming what I would say is un-American,” she said, citing some voters’ concerns over issues such as cancel culture and free speech. If there’s one thing Democrats and Republicans have in common, she added, it’s that “both sides see the stakes equally as high, equally as unpredictable, and equally [as] important.”
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If Biden wins, here’s how he could undo Trump’s deregulation agenda
Janeen Jones for Vox Biden could use Trump’s playbook to reverse his regulatory moves on pollution, worker safety, health care, and more. Cutting workplace safety inspections. Allowing subpar health insurance plans to be sold to Americans. Permitting tractor-trailer drivers to blow past previous driver-fatigue limits. Waging war on birth control. These deregulatory actions and others taken by President Donald Trump’s administration have adversely impacted the health and safety of Americans, according to System Failure, an investigative series produced by the Center for Public Integrity and Vox. But Trump’s actions may not stick. If former Vice President Joe Biden wins the November 3 election, he’ll have a few tools at his disposal to undo some of Trump’s regulatory maneuvers. And if Democrats take control of both houses of Congress, they’ll be able to quickly wipe out regulations pushed through in the last 60 legislative days of Trump’s term, thanks to the Congressional Review Act, part of the Contract With America that Newt Gingrich and House Republicans campaigned on in 1994. Alex Wong/Getty Images Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks outside during a campaign stop on September 30, 2020, in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. It won’t be clear until mid-January when the 60-day period began — because it all depends on how many days Congress meets between now and January 3, when its current term ends — but experts predict it started sometime during the summer. Since July 1, for example, a Public Integrity analysis shows more than 1,000 regulatory changes have been published in the Federal Register, though only about 100 of them have risen to the level of being reviewed by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which is charged with sifting out “significant” regulations. The changes that could be subject to the Congressional Review Act include one that weakens methane emissions standards and one that opened the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling. Trump and Republicans in Congress actually set in motion a number of rollbacks themselves when they took office, said Bethany Davis Noll, litigation director for the Institute for Policy Integrity at the New York University School of Law. The Trump administration, more than any other in the US history, aggressively pursued the rollback of federal regulations, particularly the ones put in place by President Barack Obama — including a rule meant to prevent people with mental health issues from buying guns and a regulation aimed at keeping coal companies from dumping mining waste into streams. Republicans used the Congressional Review Act to undo at least 14 of the Obama administration’s rules. Before Trump took office, the law had only been used once. Biden has already said that if he wins, he plans to roll back more than 100 Trump administration public health and environmental regulations, including his reversal of protections for transgender people. We asked Davis Noll to explain how Biden will execute these rollbacks if he takes the election. This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Sarah Kleiner Our reporting with Vox showed that the Trump administration made a number of regulatory maneuvers that had an adverse effect on the health and safety of Americans. If Biden is elected, what options will his administration have if he wants to undo some of what Trump has done? Davis Noll There’s a slew of options, starting with issuing quick rollbacks of the rollbacks. And the reason I say it’s an option to issue them quickly is because there was, often with these rules, a very robust record in place for the Obama-era rule — and then the Trump administration rolled it back with some cursory explanation. The Biden administration can then pull that record up from the previous Obama administration rule and update it. And it should be pretty simple to say, “This record still works. You know, there hasn’t been that much time that has passed, and this rule that was vastly beneficial to the American people is still a good idea.” So that’s one thing. Alex Wong/Getty Images President Barack Obama (left) walks with Vice President Joe Biden after giving a statement on the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold subsidies in the Affordable Care Act on June 25, 2015. In court, there’s a whole bunch of cases pending on Trump-era rules, and I would imagine that, in many of those cases, the Department of Justice will ask for a pause on litigation. Because the new agency isn’t going to want to defend the Trump-era rule. They’re going to want to figure things out and work on these rollbacks. And so we won’t see decisions out of court affirming Trump-era rules. And then we’ll see if the Congressional Review Act is an option too. Congress has to be aligned with the president, so both House and Senate have to have Democratic majorities. Sarah Kleiner In March 2019, your report “Regulation in Transition” outlined some of the aggressive tools Trump had used to roll back Obama-era regulations. You found that, through some strategies that other presidents had not used in the past, “the Trump administration was able to reach a far greater proportion of regulations finalized during Obama’s presidency than would have been possible under prior practices.” What did you find in your research, and how does it affect the average American? Davis Noll What Ricky Revesz and I found in this paper is that the Trump administration has used these rollback strategies just to a much greater extent than ever previously used — more than any administration had previously used them. And that means two things. One, it means now there’s this road map that the next administration is going to be expected to at least think about following. Because usually when you’ve got this tit-for-tat strategy going on between the two parties, it continues — and it accelerates, if anything. So it means that the new administration is under a lot of pressure to issue rules as quickly as possible. The other thing that it does is it kind of puts us in this flip-flop world. It’s this era of partisan back-and-forth that is just very volatile. It means you can’t, as an agency, issue rules that will be long-lasting without this speedy work. So what it does to the regulated industry is it creates a volatile atmosphere, and I think most people would agree that it’s better for our industry to not have that. Because we want our business leaders to be thinking about innovation and investment instead of things like, “What’s the regulation going to look like tomorrow?” Sarah Kleiner To be clear, these are actions taken in the executive branch, without Congress weighing in, correct? Davis Noll Yeah, we’re talking about agency regulations. And another thing that has happened in the last 20 to 30 years is presidents have more and more turned to their agencies to make policy, because we can’t get much out of Congress these days. There’s just massive gridlock there. It’s been there for a while, and it seems like it’s continuing. There was this really great article written by Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, when she was a law professor, called “Presidential Administration,” back in 2001. It was about the Clinton administration. And she said the Clinton administration had basically turned to its agencies to make policy because of congressional gridlock. And she predicted that presidents would do that more and more. And we’ve definitely seen that. They said that about Obama, that he did this more than any prior president. And now with Trump, they’re saying he’s gone to his agencies even more than any prior president to make policy, because he can’t get anything out of Congress. Like with the Affordable Care Act repeal that he wanted — that didn’t happen. And so he’s just chipping away at the Affordable Care Act through rulemaking. Sarah Kleiner That’s a lot of power concentrated in one branch of government. So Trump found a new, more aggressive way of rolling back his predecessor’s regulations. Did he set a precedent that he’s going to regret if Biden wins? Davis Noll Yeah, I mean, he used the Congressional Review Act — the administration, plus Congress — used the Congressional Review Act to roll back a bunch of rules that were issued at the end of the Obama term. Even though we don’t know what’s going to happen with the election, that’s already had a huge impact on the end of the Trump administration. At the end of the first term, for example, the vehicle emissions rule that was finalized in April of this year was, by some accounts, rushed out because they were afraid of the Congressional Review Act. “The whole country is worried about the pandemic, and these agencies are issuing rules that roll back vehicle emissions regulations” Sarah Kleiner Our June analysis found that, since Trump declared the coronavirus a national emergency in March, the White House signed off on or was reviewing more than 250 temporary or permanent regulatory actions. How does this compare to past administrations? Davis Noll It’s pretty typical that administrations issue a lot of rules in the final days. That happens a lot. I have definitely not done an empirical study on how close the Trump administration is to prior administrations, but it’s not a new thing. Maybe it’s new that it’s happening in the middle of a pandemic. Win McNamee/Getty Images President Donald Trump speaks during a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House on March 31, 2020, in Washington, DC. It’s definitely something to behold when the whole country is worried about the pandemic, and these agencies are issuing rules that roll back vehicle emissions regulations. The priorities don’t seem like they’re in the right place. Sarah Kleiner Do you think they’re trying to take advantage of the fact that people are preoccupied by the pandemic? Davis Noll I guess I can’t really say what the intent is. But I also think they would have issued these rollbacks anyway. I’m sure the pandemic didn’t change that. It’s just something else, especially when it’s a respiratory illness that’s affecting the country, to have agencies issuing rules that roll back emissions cuts that would have helped, that would have cleaned up the air. It just makes it more striking how these agencies are acting far outside the scope of what Congress envisioned. Sarah Kleiner You study litigation and keep track of Trump’s regulatory win-loss rate and what role courts play in the regulation landscape. What have you found so far about the Trump administration? Davis Noll What I’ve been tracking is court decisions on agency actions to either roll back regulations or make policy for the president. Like I was saying before, presidents use their agencies to make policy. One of the best ways to see if it’s working is: What’s the success rate in court? The overall success rate right now is 15.6 percent. And it stands in stark contrast to prior administrations. Prior scholars have looked at prior administrations and just consistently, across the board, have found that agencies win 70 percent of the time, more or less. And so to see a win rate now of 15.6 percent, it’s very surprising. It’s very, very shocking. Also, you can sort on my tracker for deregulation, and the win rate for deregulatory cases is 13.8 percent. So it’s a little lower. So the agencies are not doing very well in court. Sarah Kleiner Why do you think that is? Davis Noll There’s two big issues that consistently have come up. One is agencies are acting outside their statutory authority. And two is they are not providing the required explanation for what they’re doing. There’s this standard that requires agencies to provide a reasoned explanation for their decision, and in many cases, the agencies are doing something that’s actually harmful. With the vehicle emissions rollback, the baseline was a rule that was going to improve fuel economy over time and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars. And so if you roll that back, what you’re doing is you’re increasing greenhouse gas emissions from cars and reducing fuel economy. So that’s a harmful thing. And it’s not that easy to give an explanation for that. That case is pending. But there are a whole bunch of other cases that have already been decided that are like that, where the agency is doing something that’s actually harmful, and they haven’t been succeeding in court, when they try to explain why they did what they did. Sarah Kleiner What else should we keep an eye on if Biden wins? Davis Noll You’ll see agencies getting back to doing their job, like looking at their statutes, which often say something like “reduce emissions,” in the case of the Environmental Protection Agency, or “regulate this thing that is harmful to the public.” And you’ll see agencies getting back to doing the business of the agencies. That’s what we’ve been missing. I think the data shows that that’s what we haven’t been seeing these last four years. We haven’t been seeing agencies interested in implementing the statutes as Congress wrote them. They’re trying to implement President Trump’s policies, and often those policies are not what Congress intended. If we’re asking about what we imagine we could see out of a new administration, I predict agencies will go back to doing their jobs. I don’t think that’s like a tit-for-tat thing. I think those bounds are still there, those guardrails. Their importance has been reaffirmed in the last few years and I don’t think the Trump administration has been successful at kicking them down. So I don’t imagine that the next administration would want to act outside those bounds. Alex Wong/Getty Images Democratic members of US Senate Judiciary Committee walk down the east front steps of the US Capitol for a news conference on October 22, 2020, in Washington, DC.
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