Two articles in Saturday's New York Times underscored how much of the Obama Justice Department's work has been devoted to protecting Americans from Democratic officials at lower levels of government.
The lead article on the Times front page was about a report sharply critical of the Chicago police department. The headline is "Chicago Police Routinely Trampled on Civil Rights, Justice Dept. Says." The mayor of Chicago is Rahm Emanuel, who earlier served as an aide in Bill Clinton's White House, as President Obama's chief of staff, and as a Democratic congressman from Chicago. The Times doesn't say it, but the Democratic Party has controlled the Chicago mayoralty since 1931; perhaps the city's crime problem is evidence that one-party rule makes for poor government.
The Times New York section, meanwhile, carries the headline "U.S. Threatens to Sue New York State Over Voting Violations." The article reports, "The Justice Department has notified New York State officials that it may sue the state over what it says are widespread failures to comply with a provision of federal voter registration law that requires state drivers' license applications to double as applications for voter registration...The letter to the D.M.V. arrived a few days before the Justice Department asked to join a lawsuit over what it said were dysfunctional registration procedures at the New York City Board of Elections, which has been accused of mistakenly dropping more than 117,000 eligible Brooklyn voters from the registration rolls before the 2016 primary." New York State hasn't had a Republican as governor since December 31, 2006, when George Pataki left office. So Democratic governors have had a decade to fix this problem and bring the state into compliance with the law, but haven't.
It's something to remember the next time you hear someone denouncing Donald Trump for his supposed racism or lack of respect for the rule of law. I'm not saying Mr. Trump is the same as Rahm Emanuel or Andrew Cuomo. I can't quite tell, either, whether the criticism from Washington of New York and Chicago is entirely warranted. There may be a difference between, one the one hand, not fully complying with these laws, and, on the other hand lacking respect for them, or for the principles they are supposed to embody. But for anyone who thought the Justice Department's civil rights lawyers existed to protect people merely from, say, Republican governors in the deep South, the cases involving Chicago and New York are eye-openers.