As the political news world, social media, comments sections, and the re-election rally the President is doing tonight in North Dakota – twenty-seven months or so before the next presidential election – goes nuts, we need to step back and clearly and realistically assess the nature of the fight we’re in. The only reason that the forthcoming nomination to fill Associate Justice Kennedy’s seat is controversial is because Senator McConnell capitalized on the insurgency he ran to achieve the majority in the Senate by refusing to allow any senator, including those of his own party and caucus, to fulfill their constitutional responsibility to advise and consent on nominees to the Supreme Court. Had Senator McConnell not stolen both President Obama’s and his fellow senator’s constitutional duties, which then allowed the current President to nominate and seat Associate Justice Gorsuch, this nomination would just be the normal result of elections have consequences. Had any Republican presidential nominee been elected in 2016, whether it was this President or one of his challengers, all we’d be doing is trading an old, pre-Federalist Society conservative justice with a young, doctrinaire conservative justice to serve in a 5-4 Supreme Court where the majority was center left to left of center because Judge Garland would instead be Associate Justice Garland. It is the procedural injustice done by Senator McConnell to consolidate his successful insurgent campaign to retake the Senator majority that is the cause of the anger that is being felt.
It is also important that we are clear about what is going to happen with the forthcoming nomination in the Senate.
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) June 27, 2018
While Senator Schumer was off to a good rhetorical start this afternoon, we need to be realistic: Senator Schumer has almost no weapons available to him and to the minority Democratic Caucus in the Senate. The reason for this is that Senator McConnell, like all good insurgents and revolutionaries who come to power, made sure not to leave any of the means he used available to his defeated opposition. The filibuster for Supreme Court nominees is gone, destroyed by McConnell in order to ensure that he got to enjoy the benefits of his theft, which means there is no sixty vote threshold for cloture that has to be reached. This leaves Senator Schumer with the ability to make a floor speech every morning, whip his caucus to all vote no in committee and at the final floor vote, and slow walk the calendar until Senator McConnell asks for a ruling from the Senate Parliamentarian to move things along. I’m sure he and appropriate surrogates will do their best to try to peel off the two Republican senators he would need to actually vote a nomination down, or to at least force Senator McConnell to hold off on holding a vote till after the midterm and then, perhaps, if the Democrats are able to flip the Senate till the new Congress is sworn in. This scenario is highly unlikely, so do not place your hope on Senators Flake or Corker or Collins or even Murkowski, as some were suggesting this afternoon, doing the right thing. All of them, like Brutus, are honorable men or women…
This does not mean that Senator Schumer and the members of his caucus shouldn’t put up a fight and use every tool at their disposal to make this as hard as possible on Senator McConnell, the majority Republican Caucus in the Senate, and the President. They need to have the fight, even if it is only symbolic, in order to ensure that everyone stays focused on the ten meter target: the midterm elections. And that they know that the Democrats already serving in Congress will fight for them and therefore deserve to be returned to the majorities in both chambers of Congress. Even though he has no shame, they need to make Senator McConnell have to choke on his own words from when President Obama nominated Judge Garland. And they need to have the fight to demonstrate why it is necessary to not leave either chamber of Congress in the hands of a congressional Republican majority that has abdicated its responsibility to perform oversight of the Executive Branch and abjectly failed to serve as a check and balance to both the Executive Branch and an exceedingly radical Judicial Branch as well.
We have reached a very strange point in the US. Right now the Democratic Party and the center left to left of center and liberal and progressive constituencies that it represents and who support it are now the party and movement of conservatism of the United States. Or, perhaps, preservation of it. As I wrote way back in November 2016 right after the election, we have to hold the line to the best of our ability. The Republican Party, the movement conservatism and the reactionized white Christian evangelical Christians that make up its base, have become political, social, economic, and religious radicals. And it is a strange form of radicalism. A radicalism in pursuit of reactionary objectives; that seeks to move the US forward, by taking it back to an imaginary, yet idealized past. It is now up to the Democrats and those willing to vote with them at this time to do what is necessary to step up to preserve the Republic. And that means the work that has to be done this evening is the same as yesterday: register to vote, get everyone you know to register to vote, get everyone you know to get everyone they know to register to vote, then vote, get everyone you know to vote, and get everyone they know to vote. The midterm elections are the target. Flipping the House and, if possible, the Senate is the objective. Everything else is a sideshow.