Are We Really Damnable Cowards After All?
(For more background, see this post.)
The Consequences of Elections
The day after the election was devastating to me. There were many reasons for that devastation, including a crippling re-evaluation of my fellow Americans. But the most devastating part was my realization that there would never again, in my lifetime, be another Justice Marshall, or another Justice Brennan. Any such giants would either never make it onto the court, or be buried in dissent.
The Supreme Court, as I knew it, as I loved it, was well and truly dead. It probably died a long time ago, but the steady erosion of its integrity has been like a long lingering death.
So I am one of those Democrats who has been arguing that the Court is lost to us, and we need to start facing the new political reality of a third branch of government that will be unalterably hostile to us for the next thirty years.
The Other Consequences of the Election
But some of you seem to have forgotten that there are other consequences of losing that election--one of them being that we absolutely must show the public what Democrats stand for. I've been calling for us to pick a fight, and duke it out in public. But all of you here have been saying, "Oh no, save the fight for the Supreme Court."
And though I didn't always agree, it made sense. I understood what it was about. It was reasonable and logical strategy.
But now, here it is. Here's the fight you were waiting for. And where are you fighters now? "Uh, um, let's save the fight for the next Supreme Court seat." Right.
I begin to wonder if Democrats will pick any battle, anywhere, ever.
It was depressing enough to wake up this morning realizing that the next Supreme Court Justice is an undeserving political hack who will be significantly to the right of Sandra Day O'Conner and who will dismantle the potential for the Federal government to act for good.
But depression turned to despair upon logging into the one place I thought I could count on finding Reform Dems--and finding a bunch of roll-over-dead posts from people who ought to know better.
There is Much to Be Gained in Picking a Losing Battle
Yes, it's true, I maintain the court is lost to us. But so is the rest of the
government if we don't FIGHT.
What exactly are we waiting for? If we don't stand in opposition to a radical shift in the Supreme Court, WHAT DO WE STAND FOR?
What battle are we saving up for?
How do we tell the next generation that we are the party that will fight for reproductive rights, that we are the party that will fight for mainstream values?
Or do we mean to say, "We won't actually fight for that stuff, even if the polls indicate that you want us to, even if we've saved all our political capital for just this exigency, unless we're sure we'll win!"
Oh, and by the way, we're only the party who is against judges who are loud-mouthed wing-nuts. If you're quiet about it, but will rule the exact same way, we'll give you a pass and say that it could have been worse.
A vote against liberty is a vote against liberty whether it's made by someone ugly and obnoxious with a record a mile long or someone charming and quiet who knows better than to talk about the Constitution in Exile publicly.
It Matters When the Fall Is All That's Left
What are we so afraid of? Being called obstructionists--even though every poll in the field shows that Americans expect and want us to obstruct extremism? Even though every poll in the field shows that the cries of obstructionism haven't hurt us at all in the social-security debate, for example?
Are we afraid of losing the senate or the house that we don't have? Are any of you old enough to remember when the Republicans were on the outs? I am. And I remember how they got into power--by picking and fighting losing battles year after year until they won converts and power.
We're not going to get a liberal justice--nor would the American people want us to fight for one. But we can demand a centrist who meets mainstream expectations. We're not likely to get what we demand, but we should still demand it. If we don't, then we deserve the names that Republicans call us.
They say we stand for nothing; let's not prove them right.
This is the Supreme Court. It's important. It's the most important duty we have to our country. This judge is bad for the court, and he's bad for America.
2006 is going to require our being able to point to real differences between us and them--it's going to require our showing that we're willing to throw down in defense of our country.
(Reprinted with permission of the author.)