Time to suit up. This is war.



The Late Justice Ginsburg’s body wasn’t even cold when Mitch McConnell promised that Trump’s eventual nominee to replace one of the most historic figures on the United States Supreme Court would get a vote on the floor of the United States Senate. Yes, as everyone has pointed out, this is rank hypocrisy from the Republicans after they denied President Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, consideration after the passing of Justice Scalia in 2016, claiming that in an election year, a new justice should not be seated until after the president elected in that election had taken office.

But the Republican position in 2016 was never about principle, and everyone knows that. It was about power. It is about power. In fact, it is the quest for the same power that motivated their gross constitutional dereliction then that is motivating their rank hypocrisy now. Republicans and the religious right have waited for this exact confluence of events. This is why they came out to vote for Trump even as, in critical swing states, voters on the left happily wrung their hands about Hillary Clinton’s pantsuits and voted for Jill Stein. This, the opportunity to upend the balance of the Supreme Court for a generation, is what they’ve been waiting for.

This has always been about power.

Democrats need to wake up to that. Democrats are waking up to that. Since the passing of Ginsburg - there has yet to be a full 24 hours since as of this writing - ActBlue has taken in over $72 million, shattering all records. August, which was by all means the best fundraising month in presidential campaign history, only saw about $15 million a day raised through the platform. Even the nights of the Democratic convention during which Joe Biden and Kamala Harris accepted their respective nominations for president and vice president did not see fundraising approach this massive haul.

Democrats are motivated. Democrats understand the stakes. Democrats are not just giving money but are signing up to phone bank, text bank, poll-watch, and volunteer any way possible to make sure not only that we elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to the White House, but also that we flip the Senate to the Democrats and hold the House (after all, if the Republicans manage to seat Trump’s next nominee, Democrats will need to legislatively expand the Court, and they will need both houses of Congress and the presidency to do that). Democrats are breaking early-voting and mail-in ballot request records.

But let’s be very clear-eyed about something. The right, too, is ready for battle. What’s more, they have had a significant head start. The right has focused on the Supreme Court singularly and like a laser for the past 30 years, while the left has been too busy with ideological gateskeeping and puritarian kneecapping of our leaders instead of protecting them.

Make no mistake. Yes, Republicans stole Merrick Garland’s seat from President Obama, but what made that possible was an abysmal 34% turnout in the 2014 primary. Before 2014, Democrats comfortably controlled the Senate with 54 votes. During that election, Republicans gained 9 senate seats. The 34% turnout in 2014 was the lowest turnout in a midterm election since 1942, and was even worse than the already catastrophic performance Democrats turned in during the 2010 midterms.

Had Democrats held the Senate in the 2014 midterm elections, not only would Merrick Garland have replaced Anthonin Scalia, it is entirely possible that Justice Ginsburg would have herself retired and allowed President Obama to name her replacement and a Democratic Senate to seat her. As a result, Donald Trump would have been left with appointing just one justice to the court, in stark contrast with three potential nominations he’s now barreling towards.

Succinctly put, a Democratic victory in the 2014 midterms had the potential to put 4 Obama nominees on the Court to Trump’s just 1, a far cry from the 2:3 split we are looking down the abyss of now.

Think of what that would have meant. Roe v. Wade would have been set in stone. Pre-existing condition protections being snatched away from 100 million people would stay. LGBT equality would be elevated, not threatened. The surgical Republican strike against voting rights would likely have been reversed.

Throughout the Obama years, the left spent most of its time either bickering with Obama, demanding that he alone fix all their problems, or pretending in the aftermath of his election and re-election, that he would. Republicans spent every waking moment plotting and building a power infrastructure that has now brought them to the brink of a total takeover of the judiciary and set progress back decades if not a century.

I don’t say this to discourage us from the coming fight but to take its measure. We have the capacity, if we wish to use it, to upend everything the Republicans think they have gained in a single election, but that won’t come easy. Still, Democrats have shown that we are up for the fight.

In contrast with the embarrassing and damaging 2014 midterms, the 2018 midterms saw the highest turnout in a non-presidential year since 1914 at some 53%, and Democrats won the popular vote in the House by the highest margin in history. We still lost two seats because of the layout of the land, but this year, Democrats are fully poised to pick up the 4 seats required for a Senate majority in the next Congress, if not more. But only if we remember the gut punch we felt last night every day through the election and beyond.

We no longer simply have elections to win. We have (to find just enough) Republican senators to scare - yes, scare - into holding the line on not appointing a new justice until the next president is sworn in. We will soon have a Trump nominee with a record to dissect and decimate in the public eye. We have a Senate GOP to proverbially melt down if McConnell dares to even begin consideration of Trump’s nominee.

The right has been on warpath for decades and we are only just waking up. We have no time to waste. Donate. Elect Biden. Flip the Senate. Hold the House. Volunteer. Get in the faces of your Republican senators. Get in the faces of Trump supporters blocking people’s access to polls.

Lastly, remember that our fight won’t be over after this election, even if we win it all. We need our own laser focus to continue to elect Democratic executives and expand Democratic majorities so that this can never happen again.

This is war. Suit up.