THE BLOG
05/20/2016 04:02 pm ET Updated May 21, 2017

The Mantra for 2016: "It's the Supreme Court, stupid!"

The reason establishment, conservative Republicans have swallowed their pride, eaten their words, and have held their noses at the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency can be summed up in one acronym: SCOTUS. Supreme Court of the United States.

Forget about the wall and making Mexico pay for it. Or deporting 11 million illegal aliens. Or meeting with North Korean strong man Kim Jong-Un. Or scrapping Obamacare. Or permitting Japan and South Korea to develop nuclear weapons. Or by sheer force of his personality making America great again. However bad Trump might be as the leader of the free world, as the next president he might pick one to three, or even four, Supreme Court justices, jurists who could guide the nation back to a time when prejudice and bias dominated employment, housing, electoral and education standards, while environmental, labor and safety safeguards were secondary to corporate profits.

In releasing his list of potential nominees last week Trump cunningly calculated the correct connection his candidacy posed to conservatives and the Republican establishment. The elites know a president has temporary powers, four to eight years, but a properly picked Supreme Court justice can wield influence and power for decades, for a generation or longer. So they are all in on their Faustian deal with The Donald. Even if Democrats unseat Trump in 2020 they wouldn't be able to unseat picks he made for the court in the next four years.

Did you ever stop to analyze why Hillary Clinton is so hated by Republicans? She did, after all, vote with George W. Bush for the Iraq war. She's generally as hawkish as they are. They blame her for the deaths of four Americans in Libya, but they say hardly a word about the thousands who have died and the billions of dollars squandered in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan based on lies by Bush and Dick Cheney. She is a capitalist, as her speaking fees clearly show. She is liberal, but less so than Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. She showed strong family values by standing by her man when he was accused of sexual indiscretions. She hasn't been accused of sexual infidelities as have numerous Republican politicians. She hasn't been proven to be corrupt and criminal as have some GOP leaders, such as former Speakers of the House Dennis Hastert and Tom DeLay.

No, the reason they hate her so is the threat she represents to their way of life. Hillary would place progressive justices on the Supreme Court.

Which brings up the most important theme Hillary and other Democrats must repeat over and over: the future of the Supreme Court and that of our country is at stake in this election. They need to draw stark contrasts from today's rights and protections versus the rollbacks a conservative majority would impose.

Barack Obama must become the campaigner-in-chief for his legacy. This is no time to be an above-the-fray president.

To paraphrase the 1992 Bill Clinton campaign mantra, the drumbeat for 2016 should be, "It's the Supreme Court, stupid."