*this article was originally written 9/18/20*
I had another post ready to go, but just heard about the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. RBG. Champion of women’s rights for decades and one of the most ideologically divisive names of the last 30 years. Ginsburg was the liberal lion of the United States Supreme Court, ferocious to the last. In this moment, my only happy thoughts are that she and her husband are reunited, and that she and her most-unlikely friend Antonin Scalia are going to the opera together for eternity. In the coming days, weeks, and months, let’s hold on to the knowledge that two people of such ideological opposition could enjoy such a transcendent friendship. We’ll need it.
Coincidentally, before I heard the news, I was writing about Mitch McConnell. Time to scrap that post. As influential as he was before, now he just became the most important person on earth. I have absolutely no doubt that Trump will nominate someone new immediately, probably inside a week. Amy Coney Barrett is likely already vetted and ready for primetime. But will McConnell pull the trigger? I’m not exaggerating when I say that his entire life and career have been leading to this moment. We are in that moment that so many have waited for, so many have feared, and honestly, so many have been eager for. It is certainly callous and inappropriate to reduce a person to the event of their death, but this has been a long time coming and it could not have come at a more fraught moment in our history.
If you think you’ve ever seen ugly politics — if you think the political atmosphere has been tense or hostile or contentious, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. This is one of those things that will shake the nation to its core. Something just broke.
I wish that Ginsburg could rest in peace. She deserves that after a lifetime of scholarship and service, but I don’t think she will. It is being reported that in the last few days, she dictated a message to her granddaughter. She says “my most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” Time will tell if that wish will be granted.
History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme. Flashback to 2016. Antonin Scalia died in March of that election year. Mitch McConnell pulled perhaps the riskiest gambit in the history of politics. He refused to hold a confirmation hearing for almost a year, until the new president was sworn in. Obama nominated Merrick Garland, who fell to McConnell’s gambit and never became a justice. Trump won and Mitch McConnell became even more of a hero and even more of a villain. Now we’re back in the same position, MUCH closer to the election, the tables are turned, and all eyes are back on Mitch. What will he do? If I know Mitch McConnell, and I think I do, he will not blink. He will press forward. He will whip the votes like he’s never whipped anything in his life. The ends always justify the means and he will get a new justice before January. He will stake his Senate election on it. He will stake his entire career on it. This is the fight he’s been waiting to fight for decades and he will not back down.
In 2016, he said “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.” 2016 was a long time ago. It has been his goal for his entire career to remake the court system — he now has the biggest opportunity to change the Supreme Court’s trajectory for a generation and the biggest thing in his way is himself. He knows that’s not much of an obstacle.
Find your happy place and hold on tight. Shit is about to go straight off the rails.