Yesterday, Republican senators rammed through the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Barrett is a grossly unqualified ideologue, and is all but certain to be the deciding vote on a number of cases which will greatly restrict women’s rights and voting rights, and will damage the healthcare options for millions of Americans.
For anybody who cares about representative democracy, this is certainly a huge setback. Even if Democrats take the White House and the Senate next week, progressive reforms will almost certainly be consistently overturned by the new Supreme Court, barring significant judicial reform.
It is of course reasonable to observe the fact that the Republicans who jammed through this appointment stomped all over their own fictional norms from four years ago, when they invented precedent to block a vote on President Obama’s final Supreme Court nominee. But the Republican Party is unmoved by accurate observations of their rank hypocrisy. As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has proven over and over, hypocrisy is only effective in an environment where shame and decency exists. And any party that cheerfully supports forced separation of refugee families, unconstitutional bans on religious minorities, federal assault of peaceful civilians, denial of the existential long term threat of the 21st century, and intentionally lying to the public about the deadliness of a pandemic, is incapable of decency. These are hypocrisy-proof people.
And it’s true that the real reason this confirmation occurred so rapidly is because the GOP knows Trump’s reelection chances are in danger, as is their Senate majority. They almost certainly hope for a situation where the new extremist version of the Supreme Court can overturn a Biden electoral victory. But barring that, they hope to cripple a Biden administration, and prevent it from pulling the nation out of the pandemic and recession.
These are all important points. But the thing I want you to remember most of all is this; the Republican Party forced a Supreme Court appointment in blatant opposition to the will of the American people (and against their own recent precedent) instead of passing stimulus to help millions of Americans out of work due to the coronavirus. The Senate was provided a comprehensive COVID-19 relief bill by the House 166 days ago. They have refused to consider it. They have even refused to consider a feeble counter offer from the White House. The Republican Senate has worked dozens of times harder to ensure that Americans can’t vote, than to provide them relief from a virus their own party has grossly mismanaged.
It’s not possible to provide the exact number of deaths Republican inaction has caused, but it’s plausible to think at least half of the 226,000 dead (and counting) would still be alive if we had a federal government that took COVID seriously.
But what they actually take seriously is maintaining power, no matter what polls and elections demand. Helping people, especially those that didn’t vote for them, is not part of the equation.
There are plenty of Americans who completely support the Republican agenda. It’s not close to a majority, but it is a large enough number to win elections where voter participation is low, and where individual states are competitive enough to allow institutional voter suppression to make up the difference. There are enough of these people to give the Republicans a significant built-in advantage in the Electoral College.
So, we need to take this seriously, and think about the actual stakes of this election. The Trump administration has recently admitted that they don’t believe it’s possible to control the virus. They’ve given up even trying, if they ever had tried in the first place. Given a second term, Donald Trump is going to allow several hundred thousand more Americans to die. He’s going to continue to deny the impact of climate change, and we are going to dig ourselves a deeper and deeper hole in the fight to combat global warming. He’s going to continue using inhumane policies to actively hurt immigrants, protesters, and the citizens of any Democratic-leaning state.
Things are going to get worse.
I’m not going to go down a list of the strengths and flaws of Joe Biden, or of Democratic Senate candidates. It’s not necessary. They aren’t Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, or Lindsay Graham. They have actual plans to address the most serious issues of our time. One can quibble with the details, but they have something. Donald Trump’s official list of 2nd term priorities doesn’t even mention managing COVID-19, or providing relief to those impacted by it! He doesn’t care! Neither does your Republican Senator. Any of them. If they cared, they would have worked out another COVID relief bill to protect workers and small businesses, rather than make sure an unqualified bigot got to sit in Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat soon enough to help throw out votes in Wisconsin.
You don’t think Democrats are progressive enough? Fine, sometimes I agree with that. You don’t think Joe Biden truly understands America’s problems? I don’t entirely agree, but I understand why someone would think that. But those are problems that can be addressed. Those are people who can (and have) respond to public pressure. The other side has made it clear they’re happy to rule in perpetuity without approval from popular majorities. Your pressure will mean nothing to them.
We need to get mad. And we need to get focused. We elect a new government in just a few days. If we don’t do this right, it may be a long time before we can have a real shot at change again.
We need to take this election seriously. If you haven’t voted yet, please do as soon as you can. If you know anybody who isn’t going to vote, talk to them. Make sure they understand the stakes. Make sure they understand why the current Republican Party cannot and should not maintain power any longer. If the GOP hold the Senate and the White House after next week, they aren’t going to address unemployment expansion or financial relief. They won’t push measures that reduce infections. They won’t do a thing about disasters that befall Democratic states. They’ll continue to ignore the effects of climate change. They’ll do their best to overturn the rest of the Voting Rights Act, Roe v Wade, and Obergefell. They’ll continue to add people like Amy Coney Barrett to the court system. And the next time we have an election, it may be impossible to beat them.
If you care about any of this, then it’s your duty to vote to prevent it. We’ll need to swamp them with more votes than they can throw out. We need to break the back of the Republican Party. It sounds hyperbolic, but our lives may actually depend on it.