Don’t Burden RBG with Saving American Democracy
The Democratic Party started losing its connection to everyday people with its embrace of the Supreme Court. Cases like Brown v Board of Education (1954), Gideon v Wainwright (1963), Miranda v Arizona (1966), Loving v Virginia (1967) and Roe v Wade (1973) may have been a necessary means to end legalized racism and establish important rights, but they oriented Democrats away from engaging people — everyday citizens — to persuade them in the political sphere about everyday issues in everyday language and, rather, focused their attention on appealing to the judicial ivory tower and entrenching policies via the courts. Having two former lawyers become president, in Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, only exacerbated the problem.
Now, with the country in the midst of its worst unemployment in 70+ years, its worst health crisis in a century and one of the most important elections in modern history less than four months away, I see social media posts expressing more love for Ruth Bader Ginsburg than Joe Biden…begging followers to vote for Joe Biden, not for him, but to save RBG’s seat.
With all due respect to RBG, her many accomplishments and her laudable principles…in the words of CeeLo Green…“forget” that. Our country is still a democracy where The People reign supreme. The entire systems rests on citizens voting. If we want to end Trumpism, we need to vote him and his party out of office. We need to vote for Joe Biden because Joe is the best possible candidate our political side has to put forward.
We can’t pack our bags because it’s not Bernie on the ballot. We can’t boycott the election because Joe isn’t everything we wanted. If we do that, we’re turning our backs on our own democratic processes. And if those processes reelect Donald Trump and the GOP, we can’t complain about democracy being under assault. We didn’t avail ourselves to those rights when they presented themselves.
We must get into the trenches of democracy. March. Rally. Protest. But even more. Raise as much money as we can for Joe and other Democrats on the ballot. Especially in battleground states. I can’t believe this has to be said but, vote! For every Democratic candidate on the ballot. Get friends and family and neighbors to vote wherever they are. Canvass where it’s needed.
Instead of canceling out people who we disagree with, let’s engage them to understand their viewpoints. Have uncomfortable conversations. See the blind-spots in our own judgments and try to illuminate theirs. Look for compromise. Give some compromise. Look for reasons that others should vote along with you.
We must demand the same…even more…of our Democratic candidates.
This applies not only to engaging people on the other side of the political spectrum but those on our same side as well, because there will be most certainly be intra-party disagreement. But disagreement is good if it leads to greater understanding and focus; if the resulting compromise leads to broader and deeper resolve.
Don’t put the weight of saving American Democracy on the shoulders of RBG or whatever other Supreme Court Justice we might mistakenly choose to idolize, canonize and deify. We need to shoulder that weight ourselves. Each and everyone one of us. Collectively, we are stronger than any nine Justices or even an entire court system.
Every litigator and every corporate counsel knows that you never want your fate in the unpredictable hands of the courts. Better to stay in a negotiation you control where each party has the ability to compromise. Why would we not follow this principle for effecting the policies of our democracy?