WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed Democrats’ creative attempt to redefine or manipulate common words and phrases, including “infrastructure,” “court-packing,” “crisis,” “Jim Crow,” and “bipartisan,” to advance their political agenda.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, ‘infrastructure.’
“All words that we recognize.
“All words with fixed, long-established meanings.
“And all words whose meanings are currently being twisted unrecognizably.
“In the brave new world of the Biden administration and the Democrat Congress, the plain meaning of language … is no longer so plain.
“Take the term infrastructure.
“Ask anybody what they think of when they think of infrastructure, and I can guarantee what they’ll tell you.
“I can also tell you what they won’t think of:
“A Medicaid expansion.
“Support for big labor.
“Free community college.
“Because none of those things have ever been part of the definition of infrastructure … until now.
“Now Democrats are claiming that infrastructure is … pretty much whatever they want it to be.
“One Democrat senator tweeted, “Paid leave is infrastructure. Child care is infrastructure. Caregiving is infrastructure.”
“Well, actually, no, they are not.
“Those are policy proposals.
“Proposals that could be discussed.
“But they are not infrastructure.
“Saying something is infrastructure doesn’t make it so.
“And unfortunately Democrats’ redefinition of infrastructure – as Orwellian as it is – is actually less alarming than some of Democrats’ other attempts at linguistic redefinition.
“Everyone who has ever sat through an American history class knows exactly what court-packing refers to – expanding the number of justices on the Supreme Court so that you can get the Supreme Court decisions that you want.
“President Franklin Delano Roosevelt proposed it in the 1930s, and was defeated by a bipartisan majority of senators.
“And most thought the idea had been consigned to the ash heap of history.
“Until Democrats resurrected it during the Trump administration.
“Upset by the court’s current makeup and worried that the court might not rubber-stamp Democrat policies, a growing number of Democrats are getting behind the idea of court-packing.
“But of course they’re eager to escape the negative connotations of the term.
“After all, President Roosevelt’s court-packing attempt is not exactly regarded as a shining moment of his presidency.
“And so, in a move worthy of Orwell’s 1984, Democrats are asking us to accept the fantastical notion that Republicans packed the court – indeed, packed the entire judiciary – and that Democrats are merely seeking to restore “balance.”
“In Democrats’ brave new world, a president performing his constitutional duty to nominate judges and justices, and a Senate duly confirming them, is now defined as a nakedly partisan power grab akin to President Roosevelt’s attempt to secure a favorable outcome for his policies from the Supreme Court.
“I should say, a Republican president fulfilling his constitutional duty and a Republican Senate confirming his nominees.
“Because we all know that if it were President Biden who had filled multiple seats on the Supreme Court and succeeded in having a lot of judges confirmed, his actions would not be regarded as court-packing.
“They would be regarded – correctly – as business as usual.
“They would be regarded – correctly – as a president doing his job and performing his constitutional duty.
“Then, Mr. President, there’s Jim Crow.
“Americans know what Jim Crow means.
“It refers to the reprehensible period of segregation, when black Americans were forced to live as second-class citizens and denied the equal protection of the laws.
“Jim Crow is one of the great stains on our country’s history, and it is a term that should not be used lightly.
“But that’s exactly what Democrats are doing.
“They’ve decided that it suits their purposes to call to mind the history of this word, and so they have applied the term to an ordinary, mainstream election reform bill in Georgia.
“In fact, the president went so far as to call the Georgia law “Jim Crow on steroids” – as if it would not only bring us back to the era of segregation but return us to something even worse.
“All this for an election law that is squarely in the mainstream when it comes to state election laws and is in some ways more permissive than election laws in presumably utopian Democrat-led states like New York.
“I could go on.
“There’s Democrats’ attempt to redefine bipartisan from something that is supported by both parties in Congress to something that is – maybe – supported by some Republican voters in some poll, no matter how dubious its reliability.
“Or there’s the White House’s contorted refusal to call the situation at our southern border a crisis – as if by refusing to use the word they could somehow change the reality of the situation.
“But let me ask a question – why is the plain meaning of language under assault by the Democrat Party?
“Why are Democrats dramatically redefining ordinary words and concepts?
“Well, Mr. President, maybe because the reality isn’t so pretty.
“The truth is that Democrats are afraid that the current Supreme Court is not going to rule the way Democrats want on cases they care about.
“So they want to expand the Supreme Court and let President Biden nominate new justices, so that they can guarantee the outcomes they want.
“But saying that doesn’t sound so great.
“In fact, it sounds more autocratic than democratic.
“So Democrats are attempting to disguise the real reason behind their partisan court-packing plan by applying the word court-packing not to their own attempts to pack the court, but to the ordinary work of the president and Congress.
“Or take infrastructure.
“Pretty much everybody supports infrastructure.
“You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t think the government should maintain our roads and bridges.
“It would be a lot easier, on the other hand, to find people who think that maybe government shouldn’t be in the business of substantially increasing spending or expanding into new areas of Americans’ lives.
“So Democrats have chosen to disguise their plans for massive government spending and government expansion under the heading of infrastructure.
“After all, everybody supports infrastructure.
“So if they can sell their plans for government expansion as infrastructure, then they might be able to implement a lot of proposals that otherwise might not make it through Congress.
“Or take Jim Crow.
“With H.R. 1 and S. 1, Democrats are pushing to pass an election law that would federalize elections, inject a massive dose of partisanship into our election system, and give Democrats what they hope will be a permanent advantage in elections going forward.
“But obviously they can’t say that.
“They can’t suggest that we pass H.R. 1 to improve Democrats’ electoral chances.
“So they’ve had to find another reason to push Americans to pass this bill.
“And so they’ve manufactured a crisis – states are passing dangerous election laws that hearken back to Jim Crow, and we need Democrats’ election bill to save the day.
“I sometimes wonder when the president is bashing the Georgia election law if he remembers that the legislature that passed that law was elected by the same voters who gave him the victory in Georgia and sent two Democrats to the United States Senate.
“Does he really want to call those voters racist?
“Mr. President, ultimately, Democrats’ assault on language is about power.
“Change the language, and you can change the outcome – and secure your political control.
“It’s no coincidence that oppressive regimes have cracked down on speech – and redefined it to suit their purposes.
“Or that they have manufactured crises to keep the people in “need” of the government.
“The problem for Democrats, Mr. President, is that there is no mandate for Democrats’ far-left agenda.
“Democrats’ radical socialist candidates couldn’t even make it through the Democrat primary, let alone the general election.
“President Biden won the Democrat primary – and the election – in large part because he campaigned, perhaps disingenuously, as a moderate.
“And as for Congress, Democrats lost seats in the House and have a paper-thin majority in both chambers.
“If there was any mandate to be gathered from November, it was a mandate for moderation.
“But Democrats aren’t interested in moderation.
“They are increasingly in thrall to the far-left wing of their party.
“And they have a radical agenda to push, and possibly a very limited window in which to push it.
“And since there is no mandate for that agenda, they have to create one.
“And that is why we see Democrats redefining the plain meaning of common words.
“Say that you don’t like the makeup of the Supreme Court, and most Americans would say “Tough. That’s the way the ball bounces sometimes in our democracy.”
“Claim that Republicans engaged in court-packing, on the other hand, and all of a sudden Democrats’ radically partisan Supreme Court power grab seems a lot more acceptable.
“Mr. President, I get Democrats’ passion for their politics.
“I feel pretty strongly about my political principles.
“But their manipulation of language to advance their politics is deeply disturbing.
“Instead of trying to pursue a radical agenda cloaked in misleading language, I’d suggest Democrats turn their efforts to bipartisan cooperation.
“As the November election made clear, that’s what the American people are looking for.”
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