Lessons of the Bolton Fight

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


I’ll come right out and say it: John Bolton’s nomination to UN ambassador may not actually mean the end of the world. He’s a terrible candidate, his antagonism to multilateral institutions is ill-founded, and he’ll probably only further damage our already-trampled credibility abroad, but I don’t think he’s going to bring us to the brink of apocalypse. If anything, his brash insistence on taking the most confrontational stance possible against rogue nations with budding nuclear weapons programs—Iran and North Korea come to mind—might well inspire the few sane officials left in the Bush administration to redouble their efforts at charting a moderate and effective foreign policy. Who knows?

Nevertheless, as Mark Goldberg reports in the American Prospect this month, a lot of good may come of the actual Bolton fight in Congress, which has taught both Democrats and liberal advocacy groups a lot about growing a spine and putting some heft into their punches:

“One of the great things about the Bolton fight is that it reminds the Democrats that political struggle is not always about the win,” a Senate Democratic aide told me, “but about fighting the good fight.” To their credit, the Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee tried as best they could to fight this nomination on its merits and keep the partisan rancor to a minimum; for each interview conducted by the minority staff, Biden requested the presence of a Lugar staffer. It was the White House, from a defensive posture, that sought to turn this nomination into a referendum on raw presidential power, spending enormous political capital on a fight that may end up as technically successful but that has come at a high price.

Now if we could just see this sort of fighting spirit take place when Republicans try to screw consumers with draconian bankruptcy bills, or gut Medicaid, or push through an Attorney General who endorses torture, well, we might really get somewhere.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate