There are moments when you have little that you want to say. Then there are moments where you have too much that you want to say. Yesterday, news came down that put us in the latter category. Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s death has sent many of us reeling. There will be numerous moving pieces that will celebrate her life and her long and distinguished career. Part of me wanted to do that.
Others will strike out in anger and make big claims. Part of me wanted to do that. Yet, I wanted to touch on the emotion that is overwhelmingly driving all of that: fear. Fear often leads to anger and can lead to aggression. So, I thought I would introduce a personal story to illustrate the point.
Last week, our daughter accidentally closed the door on our cat’s paw. It was an accident. Our two cats were fighting and she was trying to prevent it. The cat broke two bones in his paw. He was understandably frightened and hurt. We managed to get him into a carrier and get him to one of those late night emergency clinics. He now has a splint on the paw. We must keep him confined and medicated for nearly two months.
Seeing the response to a wounded animal is an interesting study in human nature. My wife is not a huge fan of the cat. He is chronically lazy even when healthy and sometimes does not relieve himself where he should. However, she has been very comforting to him because she generally loves animals. Even the dog has been comforting to him as they share space downstairs.
At this point, you might be asking what this has to do with Ginsberg. Simply put, the liberal wing of the country is like the wounded animal. We have retreated to our corner and are looking to regroup. It’s not a fatal injury at this point, but we are certainly in a weakened position. The GOP and the president are in a position of being the observer in all of this.
You could imagine that the wounded animal in the corner is not your pet, but instead a wild animal you never wanted on your property. You have three simple options when dealing with such a wounded animal. You can leave it alone and hope it leaves on its own eventually. You can attempt to put it out of its misery and kill it. You can also try to help it.
I would say the president holds the cards, but I don’t know if he would have any compassion for a real wounded animal mich less a metaphorical one. This is where Mitch McConnel needs to step up. I know hearing those words is enough to put a chill down anyone’s spine, but this is where we’re at. Give McConnel credit, he is a master of political calculation even if the humanity isn’t necessarily there.
If he moves to fill the seat it would be akin to attacking the wounded animal. Liberals and progressives aren’t merely an injured raccoon. We make up roughly a third of the country. If you come after us you better kill us quick. Otherwise, such a move would backfire horribly. In terms of reality, if you move to fill the seat you better make sure you win the next election. That kind of move could be the spark that mobilizes people to vote against you. He is himself on the ballot after all.
His best option is to pledge not to fill the seat until after the election. If Trump loses then the next president appoints the next justice. If Trump wins then he gets to appoint one in November. That would be similar to the home owner leaving the wounded animal to heal itself and move along. Dealing with wild animals is unpredictable, but I can tell you how our cat has reacted. He has become more lovable after the care he has gotten. He trusts us more.
The third option only gets done in fiction on shows like the West Wing. That would involve putting Merrick Garland on the bench. Some of you may recall that was the judge that never got a hearing from McConnell in Obama’s last year in office. It was the so-called Biden rule. That would be a master stroke just because it would be a move that would create reconciliation and engender a level of trust from the left that the right has never enjoyed.
I think we know that’s not happening. So, the realistic choices are to go for the kill and appoint a right-wing judge now or to practice mercy and hold off until after the election. No one is quite sure how November turns out and each of these major events puts the issue more in doubt. I don’t think Trump voters are changing their tune, but with each blow comes the realization to everyone else that we are in this together. If you manage to unite them it could be game over.