Justice Ginsburg's Supreme Court seat draped in black wool crepe

Why Would We Give a Supreme Court Seat Away without a Fight?

I am not exhausted by Republicans. I am exhausted by our thinkpiece cowardice.

I am exhausted by the idea that instead of thinking we can beat Republicans head up, we twist ourselves in knots figuring out how to give away the current fight, like this Supreme Court seat, to win the next one. How many fights is that given up for the next one, a next one that turns out to be so much harder because we gave away the last? Republicans use that last fight as a building block, as foundations that we lack because we said we’d build them later.

Let’s just ram ourselves into their political process. Make them spend their political capital on us. You want to appoint a Supreme Court justice, then it will take you every ounce of political capital you’ve got left. Spend that shit on us. Fucking earn it. You want to act like the next fight will be easier if they waltz through this one, build political capital off it, change polls off an October victory? You call that political calculus, instead of the one thing that could risk this election more than anything else right now?

Gifting an October Victory

Winning this confirmation fight without a real political cost will let Trump and Congressional Republicans produce advantage and raise mountains of cash. It will let an administration that has been anything-but declare itself competent, and allow a Republican nominee who campaigns only on the idea of winning – who hasn’t produced a win for his party in a year-plus – turn around and refresh that image on the basis of a brand new, shiny victory, easily won because we thinkpieced ourselves into deciding that tarnishing it wasn’t worth it.

Can we please take a fight head-up for once? Since 2016, we more often argue ourselves out of the next fight, and why we should give up on it for the one after – I am so sick and tired of reading people’s god damn think pieces on why we should let Republicans win every other battle.

What fucking resistance so often talked themselves into the notion of, “Yeah, let’s not resist so often, you guys. They’ll win it anyway, so why make it hard for them?” The fuck is that? Do you realize how much that erases the effort that activists have put into everything else – how much it allows Republicans to drag norms rightward in those moments when we pretend as if the fight doesn’t effect those norms?

Then we have the gall to act like we’re bad at fighting these battles when we never fucking bothered in the first place. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of, “Well, we’ll lose this battle anyway cause we’re not good at them, so let’s not focus on it,” which only gives you more evidence that you’re bad the next time you want to justify not bothering.

We’re going to have the fight over this nomination. Senators and the Democratic Party are going to take up this fight. If the rest of us pass it up, they won’t have the foundation on which to press it.

But Our Resources!

The notion that we don’t have the resources to spend is nonsense. We have more people. We have significantly outraised Republicans on nearly every front. We are the stronger.

What happens when we do take on these impossible fights we convince ourselves we’re destined to lose? What happens when we convince ourselves that Mitch McConnell is secretly baiting us into the fight as if he can magically predict its outcome and what we think he thinks we think is assured?

Trump and McConnell wanted to have a fight over the 2017 ACA repeal – we handed them their asses. They wanted that fight for years, were champing at the bit for it, had years to plan how to enact repeal at their perfect moment, and we put that repeal the fuck to bed. That was a fight they wanted, and we shut it down cause we didn’t ask, “Should we be having this fight?” We just fucking fought.

They tried to escalate into a war with Iran earlier this year. They wanted a scalable war they could half-fight so they could obsess the media over it and argue it would damage a war effort to support anyone but Trump. They had been trying to maneuver into justifying a war for years. And we shut it down in a week. We didn’t argue whether we should fight that fight, we just told them, “Fuck this”. We just fought.

We have more people than them; we have outraised them; we have more support than them; we have better polling than them; we finally have them backed into more of a political corner than ever before; and now we want to ask whether we should press the fight or not – when failing to do so relents and give them a Supreme Court seat?

We imagine that Republicans will somehow magically outspend us despite lacking the resources to do so. That’s because we’ve sold ourselves on the narrative they always will. It does not reflect the reality before us.

The notion that we have to save it up is nonsense. If we don’t spend it in the next month, what we’ve saved will be significantly devalued under a second Trump term that rips apart election integrity. There’s a month left. What are we saving it for?

An Open Seat will Turn Out Republicans?

Oh, but Republicans will use an open seat to campaign? Yeah, and they’ll use a successful Supreme Court appointment to campaign, too. They’ll use people’s willingness to normalize that appointment to campaign. They’ll use Trump coming fresh off a win to campaign. They’ll use that win to convince a base that’s partially abandoned Trump to come back home. They’ll use that win to revitalize voters who rarely came out but chose Trump in 2016 to come out once more. At the very least, that win must come with great difficulty, and it must have every asterisk we can pin to it in plain view.

You want to argue that not having this fight is politically smart, and instead hand them a massive, uncontested political win right before the election? That’s what we’re calling political savvy now?

This is the most important part: even if we lose, that fight itself anchors norms that people will vote on in the election. People aren’t voting on whether they think Trump is guilty – everyone already knows that and has decided whether they’ll care in their vote. We fear Republican turnout when a Supreme Court confirmation is on the line, as if the same doesn’t hold true for us – even as we trumpet how many small donations were made in the wake of Justice Ginsburg’s death. You marvel and treasure at the mobilization in her name, for her seat, and then you forget that mobilization holds true for voting as well, acting like it only somehow magically turns out Republicans.

What people are voting on is whether we can ensure they hold to civil rights norms enough that they still hold them sufficiently valuable in the voting booth to make the right decision. And you’re looking at a fight over civil rights norms taking place 5 weeks before the election, and arguing maybe we shouldn’t participate in it?

I have no words for that level of abdicating our responsibility, for evidencing to voters that level of wild inconsistency on the norms we need them to be consistent about come November. What a horrific example we set if we don’t pick this fight up. What a fucking fire sale of our norms that is. What a fugue state of looking at the finish line and going I’ll take the second and third step, sure, but not the next one, and imagining that somehow makes us finish.

I’m tired of fights over civil rights being turned into anything-but, and then witnessing our utter shock when elections decided on civil rights norms don’t go our way. If we’re telling voters to vote as if civil rights are on the line, yet we fail to clarify how this puts civil rights on the line or even fight to defend them…what cue do voters take when they don’t even see us taking that fight seriously, insisting to them that they should?

If you’re working in another lane, on election work, calling, fundraising, textbanking, or anything like that, keep it up. That is valuable. We can’t relent on that. That adds to the pressure on this front.

Yet if you’re figuring out what to do next, this needs to be on your plate. This adds to the pressure on the election fight. They’re not separate fights; they’re the exact same one.

Let’s not one more time thinkpiece our way out of lifting a finger for a fight that needs to be had.

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