I know it’s hard to think about a time before Donald Trump was president, but I’d like you to cast your mind’s eye back on 2014.
At that point, Donald Trump was a tv-show hosting buffoon who occasionally sent stupid tweets about Barack Obama being born in Kenya and killing everyone who knew.
In November of that year there was an election. I get it if you don’t remember, because only about 36% of eligible voters actually bothered voting. So you might not remember.
Democrats entered the election with 53 seats in the Senate. They left it with 44, losing 9 seats as part of the worst Congressional bloodbath in a century (Democrats also lost 13 House seats to go along with the 63 they lost in 2010.)
Combine that with the 6 Senate seats lost in 2010, and what was a Congress controlled entirely by Democrats was now a Congress entirely controlled by Republicans.
All of this is important to talk about because today, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced he was retiring, effective July 31st.
This means that Donald Trump, a president with a historically low approval rating who was voted upon by 3 million fewer people than his opponent and who is currently under investigation by a special counsel along with being sued by a number of state and private actors will get to nominate his second SCOTUS justice to the bench in less than two years.
And because of 2014, that justice, no matter who it is and how regressive and awful they are, will almost certainly sail through nomination with Democrats being unable to do the slightest thing about it – like the first one he nominated.
Folks, we did this to ourselves. It’s our fault, the liberal Democratic voters of America. Or non-voters, as the case may be, because half the population didn’t vote in the presidential election.
Republicans are doing what they’ve done for years, and what they will always do: take advantage of the opportunities they’re given. And we gave them away.
We did this to ourselves when we didn’t vote in 2010. And when we didn’t vote in 2014. And 2016.
We did this when we got mad at Obama for not being perfect and pure, and punished him by sitting out the midterms and fucking up everything he wanted to do and would have done, because it JUST WASN’T PERFECT ENOUGH.
We did this when we succumbed to 30 years of conservative infotainment conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton, from Whitewater to Emailgate.
We did this when we decided Hillary just wasn’t likable enough, or forthcoming enough, or made too many paid speeches, or said “super-predator “once and therefore hated black people, or hey, enough Clintons in the White House, right?
We did this when we fell for the media’s hysterical nonsense over emails.
We did this when we allowed “my vote doesn’t matter” nihilism to win.
We did this when we assumed she’d win, so we didn’t vote. Boy howdy did we do that.
We did this when we whined that gerrymandering would make our vote not count, so why bother?
We did this when we let the GOP’s ham-fisted attempts at voter suppression stop us from exercising the franchise our ancestors died to give us, no matter how difficult.
We did this when we couldn’t put aside our hurt over how Bernie Sanders was treated and stayed home.
We did this when we allowed things other than elections to get in the way of voting – which is something Republicans literally never do.
We did this when we thought Jill Stein was an option.
We did this when we thought writing in Harambe the Gorilla for president would be hilarious, rather than just voting for Hillary.
And we did it when we decided our local Senator or Congressperson just wasn’t cool enough or pure enough or deserving enough for our vote.
So we just didn’t bother.
And here we are. With Donald Trump staring down the barrel of appointing another SCOTUS justice.
Plus Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 85, and Steven Breyer is 79, so they may not last much longer. And if Clarence Thomas is smart, he’ll retire right now too, before the midterms present a risk of Republicans losing the Senate – already a remote possibility.
A 7-2 Trump court looms. Like, soon. Should I repeat it?
7-2 Trump court. For decades.
And the November midterms are the only chance we have to stop it.
Democratic activists are already talking about mobilizing phone campaigns to lobby fence sitting R’s like Jeff Flake, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski to vote against whoever Trump nominates.
Good luck with that. It’s your time, you can waste it how you like.
Me, I’m fully prepared for Mitch McConnell to cram Kennedy’s replacement through before November. Thomas’ replacement, too.
The Kennedy seat is gone. We lost it in 2014, then threw away the map with which to find it in 2016.
What we need to prepare for now is the inevitable 5-4 SCOTUS votes to overturn Roe v. Wade, Obamacare, marriage equality, and every social gain liberals have made in two decades.
And for the inevitable 5-4 SCOTUS vote to shield Donald Trump from any legal or political jeopardy he might face. Goodbye subpoena for Trump’s taxes. Goodbye compelled testimony to Robert Mueller or an impeachment trial.
That’s all gone. We gave it away, because we were mad or apathetic or both.
We can grab it back in November. We can vote, we can drag other people to the ballot box by any means necessary. We can donate, canvas, phone bank, or volunteer.
We can take the House back and the Senate back, and in 2020, take the White House back too.
But we can’t take the Kennedy seat back.
Because we gave that away.