It seems that I wasn’t depressed enough about the current state of American politics. So yesterday, Jonathan Chait wrote an article to make me feel even worse, If Republicans Win the Senate, What Crisis Will Mitch McConnell Cook Up Next? It is about the effect that a Republican Senate will have on the last two years of President Obama’s term. Chait’s thinking Constitutional crisis.
In those two years, it is quite possible that one of the liberal justices will die. That would be bad enough. As we know, the Republicans are generally unwilling to confirm even moderate justices like Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. But even if they were so willing, we would likely get an even more conservative court. This is especially true if the only truly liberal justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg (who is 81), left us.
But the really bad prospect is what would happen if a conservative justice died. Antonin Scalia is 78. Anthony Kennedy is 77. Based upon demographics, there is roughly a 20% chance that one of them will die in the next two years. And if that happened, I can’t imagine the Republicans allowing Obama to nominate anyone to the court. Just look at how they behaved about the DC Circuit Court. That was really what caused Harry Reid to “go nuclear.” Republicans were unwilling to allow any judges to be confirmed because the court was balanced.
If that happened, there would be a constitutional crisis. And frankly, I don’t see any way out of it. The only hope is that no conservative justices die. Or better yet that no justices die at all. And that’s pathetic. But it goes right along with my long held belief that the Republicans have become a revolutionary party. And a big part of this is thinking that the entire system is invalid. Thus, it is okay to totally gum it up.
Chait went even further. He noted that McConnell was the man who innovated the “oppose everything” strategy against Obama and showed that in fact the people didn’t blame him or his party in the least for this behavior. (Sadly, because of the implicit bias in the media, I suspect that a similar move by the Democrats would cause a backlash.) As a result of this, it is likely that McConnell can come up with lots more creative ideas to destroy democracy in the United States.
Of course, the only way this happens is if the Republicans actually take over the Senate. And the only way that happens is if Democratic voters allow it. And they do have to allow it—by not voting. And my best guess is that they will allow. They won’t even bother to show up at the polls. The Greeks understood that democracy wasn’t a gift. It was a social duty—something that was required of citizens. In America, we’ve never really understood that. And that is why we pretty much don’t have a democracy. The whole country can go on tilt and all that is required is for good people to do nothing.