The republicans got away with it. They obstructed the constitutionally-guided process of nominating a Supreme Court Justice, and it worked. While the GOP’s tactics were certainly abhorrent and unconstitutional, and their excuses were thin and groundless, it was up to the democratic party to inform the public of what a grievous injustice this was—and they didn’t do nearly enough. President Obama excoriated the GOP on a few occasions, and other senators and house members complained to the media and issued what were essentially toothless statements on various occasions. But this warranted more anger, more vitriol, more passion, more organization.
10 months, that’s how long the democratic party and their allies had to build to build a movement; that’s how long they had to show the populace at large that the opposition party (a party who, coincidentally claims to be helplessly devoted to the constitution, and even more coincidentally, were refusing to fill the seat of a constitutional originalist) were openly sabotaging a staple of our democratic process used since 1925. There should’ve been a groundswell throughout the democratic party; in the first month there should’ve been marches and demonstrations all over the U.S. Instead there was a lot of talking, a lot of carping and whining instead of action. The government should’ve come to a screeching halt the moment the GOP refused to vote on the nomination of Merrick Garland—which was only minutes after Obama announced Garland last March. Progressive organizations should’ve been planning mass demonstrations with lawmakers and local leaders like they have been over the last few months.
Where was the desperation?
Were they really that confident that they would win the presidency?
Through the unforgiving lens of hindsight, the timidity and cavalier lack of urgency is indefensible. The court was/is split, and left-leaning justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg (84) and Stephen Breyer (78) may not serve under another president. This particular appointment will play a significant role in the future direction of this country, and the democrats let the republicans steal it out from under them.
The dems may be showing a bit of verve now by forcing the senate to go nuclear, but it’s too little too late. Gorsuch is going to get a seat on the Supreme Court, a seat that should’ve been Merrick Garland’s. This was a catastrophe of process that the democrats won’t soon forget—nor should they. Complacency is a virus, and it spread through the party last year removing spines by the fistful. They got used to relying on the power of the white house. It’s more difficult to be adversarial and aggressive when your guy is at the podium—but that’s no excuse.
Of course, the republican party should be vilified for their behavior, but the democrats don’t deserve to be let off the hook here.
They let the GOP subvert our founding document in broad daylight, and they failed to even make them pay politically. The optics were clearly on the side of the democrats, and yet they let a weak comparison to a 24-year-old statement from Joe Biden dominate the news cycle and legitimize the mission of Mitch McConnell and company.
What happened to Merrick Garland was wrong, and the democratic party didn’t do enough to show the country just how wrong it was.
Originally published on The Overgrown.