Just as I finished my workday on Friday, I clicked over to Twitter to see what was going on. There it was: The name that we always hate to see trending. Ginsburg. I tapped on the trend and learned the earth-shattering, horrible news.
I had three thoughts, tumbling right after each other.
No, no, not RBG. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an icon and no one wants to lose a hero. There are so many reasons why I personally admired her, but recently, as a voting rights advocate, her passionate and incredible dissents whenever the Roberts Court ruled against voting rights cases were amazing to read. But then I thought…
Oh no, what’s going to happen to the Supreme Court? With her on the Court, it was already a 5-4 conservative majority. If Trump is able to fill the seat, it’d be 6-3 in which case those few cases where Chief Justice John Roberts crosses over to vote with the “liberal” wing will become moot. Just how close are we to losing Roe v. Wade? And then I thought…
What is this going to do to the election? Does this vacancy tip the momentum in Trump’s favor? Do Republicans who are tired of Trump find their way to vote for him again for the court? Are Democrats motivated enough by the vacancy to turn out to vote in droves?
As with everything else that’s going on these days, the sheer magnitude of Ginsburg’s passing was overwhelming at first. My mind reeled with the grief and the “what if” scenarios and the avalanche of news that politicians were making as they made their statements.
Sadly, the articles about Ginsburg’s life and legacy got diluted by the endless essays written by pundits about what could or should happen next as we deal with the fallout from a vacancy happening this close to the election. (By the way, one of my favorites articles about her life is this one from NPR’s Nina Totenberg: A 5-Decade-Long Friendship That Began With a Phone Call.)
I expected the feelings of a deep despondency to settle over me. That’s what happened when Justice Kennedy retired, creating the vacancy that ultimately ended up with Brett Kavanaugh on the Court. But the dark cloud never came.
No, instead, I was surprised to find that I was full of fight. Here’s the universe just knocking us down, yet again, and my reaction was, “Oh yeah? Watch this!” This close to the election, they are NOT going to take the wind out of my sails. No sirree. I’ve got my game face on, and I’m fighting.
Where did that come from? I’m not entirely sure. Could it be from Ginsburg herself, who made it clear when she said, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” It’s like she gave us a rallying cry before leaving us.
Now, I have a lot of friends who are deeply sad, and others who are incredibly worried about what will happen in the next month or two, and that’s fine. It’s certainly understandable. I’m not at all saying that I expect everyone to feel like I do — I’m sure they don’t. I’m sharing this with you because I fervently believe that we can get through trying times like this one by focusing our energies around those things we can control.
There’s very little we can control about what the Senate does in the coming weeks. I think putting a ton of pressure on the Republican Senators (especially the ones looking at re-election in November) by pointing out their stunning if unsurprising hypocrisy on the matter of confirming a Supreme Court justice in the waning weeks of a first-term president, is a good thing to do. (There’s a great video HERE making the rounds that plays their own sound bites from 2016.)
But what we can control is putting all of our efforts into winning the White House and flipping the Senate. If somehow, the vacancy is still open once the election happens, then we have zero options if we don’t have Joe Biden in the White House to make a better nomination and if Mitch McConnell still holds the majority in the Senate.
If somehow the Republicans ram through one of their awful judges and gets them on the Court, then we really need the White House and the Senate (and keep the House, of course) so the options of expanding the Court, or creating term limits for Supreme Court justices, or some of the other ideas to lessen the severity of what McConnell has done to our courts, are still on the table.
With that in mind, I was thrilled to see the incredible outpouring of donations into ActBlue for Democratic candidates across the board. The last time I checked, we had raised over $127 million on ActBlue in 48 hours, breaking every record ActBlue had.
I saw no signs that this awful situation was deflating for Democrats. No, in fact, what I saw was a demonstration of what national and swing state surveys had found just before Ginsburg died: For the first time in a long while, more Democrats (59%) rated the Supreme Court as “very important,” much higher than the 51% of Republicans who said the same. Furthermore, a survey taken this weekend found that 62% of Americans agree that the winner of the election should choose the next nominee, including half (!!) of all Republicans.
I saw so many tweets and posts all over social media about how people had signed up to do a phone banking shift, or were texting voters, or had talked to their family about requesting their absentee ballots — so much more than usual. Even here at Political Charge, I saw a massive uptick in clicks on a variety of articles, mostly about flipping the Senate. As only one example, my post about how to flip McConnell’s seat got nearly 3,000 clicks in 2 days. That’s a lot.
You and I cannot control the politics of this situation. But we can do a lot to make sure we win back the White House and flip the Senate. Let’s do it for RBG.
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Oops! I’ll get that fixed now. Here’s the correct link: https://mailchi.mp/d00a9496a621/political-charge