This year has had some days. And the wild thing is, we’re all stressing so much about whatever tragedy was just plopped in our laps on a recent weekday afternoon that we never consider letting our imagination run wild at what fresh hell might about to be detonated.
So while we were all bracing for Amy Comey-Barrett’s nomination to a lifetime on the Supreme Court to become official—with the Democrats playing their expected role of a decades-old rounded-down speed bump with plenty of space to the side—news came down that ACB’s colleagues-to-be handed down a decision that would make it harder to vote in Wisconsin.
Following a trend where the nation’s highest court sides with the GOP—sometimes for states’ rights, sometimes not!—they ruled against an extension that would allow Badger State voters’ ballots to count provided they were postmarked, not necessarily received by, Election Day.
In the primaries earlier this year, that extension allowed for 80,000 ballots to be counted that would’ve otherwise been thrown out—and would be now.
In 2016, DJT carried Wisconsin by fewer than 23,000 votes.
It was an example of an über-conservative court flexing its muscle, and that’s before they add a justice more right-leaning than any already present. Plus, you have Kavanaugh hinting he’s down for whatever keeps his crew in power.
And if it wasn’t obvious before, it is now—Democrats need to stop treating this like a game, and one with rules. It isn’t. Republicans figured that out long ago.
If this country is going have a federal government that reflects the will of its populace anytime soon, Democrats need to do what Republicans fear.
Pack the court.
The New York Times’s Jamelle Bouie laid out the exact mentality the Democrats should have regarding the judiciary, provided they can win the other two branches of the federal government:
The same Constitution that says Republicans can confirm Barrett weeks before the election, that allows them to retroactively impose a new and novel partisan requirement (same-party control of the Senate) on judicial confirmations, also says Congress can add as many seats to the Supreme Court as it wishes. It says Congress can strip the Supreme Court of its jurisdiction to hear certain kinds of cases. It says the judiciary is as subject to “checks and balances” as any other institution in American government and that the people through their elected officials have the right to discipline a court that works against their will.
If the Republican Party and its conservative defenders are going to operate according to a narrow, legalistic parsing of the rules — if they’re going to do anything and everything that isn’t expressly forbidden by the text, all in service of minority rule on an already counter-majoritarian playing field — then the only rational response is for Democrats to do the same. To adopt forbearance would be to accept defeat.
So don’t. Don’t accept defeat.
If Republicans want to play, Democrats need to play right back.
And instead of norms and words and Republican-written narratives being the judge of whether or not packing the court was the correct course or not, let the results speak, and let the new justices flex their muscle in backing important legislation and executive measures.
Jumpstart the pandemic recovery with legislation that is the opposite of the austerity measures most are expecting, putting resources directly into the hands of the people who need them.
Pass healthcare reform that gives every American access to care—full stop. Not expanding Obamacare, not means-testing—healthcare for each and every American, care that isn’t tied to their employment.
Treat climate change like the existential threat that it is and put people to work fighting it.
Tackle the wealth inequality at the core of everything that’s wrong in this country, and if Republicans want to bitch and moan about the deficit, raise revenue like hell.
The goal should be simple—every American deserves to lead a dignified life.
And if your goal isn’t monumental change, if it isn’t busting your ass to make the world around you a better place, why even get into politics in the first place?
Stop talking. Stop tweeting. Get it done.