Practically speaking, politics in America has never been for the faint of heart, but since Donald J. Trump ascended to the White House, civility has substantially degraded. With the passing of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, it appears a partisan battle royale is shaping up and about to get ugly posthaste.
All weekend the political chatter has highlighted the “special friendship” between Ginsburg and the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Unfortunately, this appears to be nothing more than lip service to the good old days, and it is highly unlikely Democrats and Republicans will be ready to break bread together any time soon.
Each side carries a particular revilement for the other, including castigating their opponents with invectives, rebukes, and downright lies. However, with the delicate balance of the Supreme Court at stake, the partisan battle is headed toward a new, even more divisive frontier.
Enter Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), a hardscrabble and wily politician who knows how to play hardball. Within minutes of Ginsburg’s passing, McConnell signaled that a Senate vote to confirm her replacement would not be far off. His intention to move full speed ahead sent the Democrats into a meltdown. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) asserted the Democrats would “use every arrow in our quiver” to block such a move. She even went so far as to invoke the “I” word – impeachment – to halt a vote should the Senate move to confirm a new justice before the election.
The unveiled threats continued with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who appears loaded for bear should Republicans try to fill RBG’s seat on the high court. According to one report, Schumer led the charge during a conference call with members of his party this weekend, saying: “Let me be clear: if Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans move forward with this, then nothing is off the table for next year. Nothing is off the table.” Then he added: “Our number one goal must be to communicate the stakes of this Supreme Court fight to the American people,” according to an unnamed Axios source who was reportedly part of the tele-meeting.
What rankles the loyal opposition was their inability to get President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, before a Senate committee. Now they are crying foul at the thought of Trump getting a third nominee onto the bench. The media wing of the Democratic party has already started the presses rolling. A September 19 article heading from The New York Times opined: “The fight over the confirmation of Judge Garland in 2016 set the tone for an even more brutal battle over who should succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.”
Ah, but no one wants to say that there are differences between the Garland nomination and the vacancy left by Ms. Ginsburg. This is – to put it simply – power.
The Democrats did not control the Senate when Obama made the appointment of Merrick Garland – and they still don’t. As an almost powerless party, they can do little but cover themselves in sackcloth and ashes and whine that the people should choose the new Supreme Court justice. But who are the Senate and the president if not the voices of the people? They are “representatives” of the people who have been duly elected by the voting public. Until a new election is held and decided, the unvarnished truth is that the people have already spoken.
This truth frustrates the leaders of the Democratic Party because they realize they are backed into a corner with little room to maneuver. At this moment – and despite the defection of two GOP senators who say they won’t approve a nominee before the election – the Democrats find themselves thwarted at every turn.
Will the GOP Man Up?
McConnell is currently laughing all the way to the floor of the Senate because he already invoked the so-called nuclear option when Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. The rule change means that a nominee can be approved with a simple majority vote. It worked like a charm for both Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
So, the Democrats have nowhere to go with their bitterness and angst save the friendly cable television outlets and the legacy media. The left-wing Fourth Estate will shout as loudly and often as they like, but if the GOP has enough cajones, a new Trump Supreme is a done deal.
So the burning question that lies dead ahead is: Will the GOP man up and do the deed, or will they cower before the empty threats of Democrats and the media madness that is bound to reach a fever pitch as election day 2020 approaches?
This, my friends, is that unique place in politics where the road that lies ahead is clear – if only our elected officials are brave enough to take it.
Read more from Leesa K. Donner.