Whenever there is a Supreme Court vacancy, it creates news and fights over political power. The death of Justice Scalia is no exception. No sooner than people found out that he died did the rhetoric start to fly. So much for taking a moment to bury the dead. No, there’s too much at stake supposedly. Power has a tendency to ignore the human side of things. There are opponents and enemies to be overcome. If a dead person’s body has to be drug along and used to help obtain power, then so be it.
Of course the reporting doesn’t help either. Articles are written in such a way as to convey the fighting an horse race nature of everything political. Here’s one example – the title is “If Republicans block Obama’s Supreme Court nomination, he wins anyway.”
Even thought I have a long history in politics, it s stories like this that make me glad I am no longer in it. But I’m also saddened because reporting like this just feeds into the story line that so many have bought into – it looks through life with a zero sum glasses. There are only winners and losers, us and them. There can be only one victor mentality.
The rhetoric is the same, regardless of the sides – they are evil, we are good. They are not interpreting the constitution properly, they are interested in destroying the country. We have to beat them.
Democrats run out and yell that it’s the President’s duty and responsibility to nominate a Supreme Court Justice without the Senate blocking his pick and Republicans yell that in 2007 the Democrats did the same thing.
Actually, this goes back much farther than recent memory. All the way back to President John Adams’ administration. Federalists cried that there were vacancies to be filled and the president had every right to fill them. Thomas Jefferson and his supporters cried that Adams should have left those spots free because it was practically the end of Adams’ term (19 days left).
What’s encouraging about all of this is that the arguments are the same. It means people in politics are not original by any stretch of the imagination. Nor are they tricky – all of the rhetoric is just a ploy at hiding efforts to obtain power over other people. And when those efforts fail, it’s just a matter of time until the name calling starts.
I read another article yesterday with exemplified this. It was from someone who was essentially happy that Justice Scalia was dead. Why, because, according to this person, he was evil – a racist, a homophobe, etc. Lots of dehumanizing names and labels. And anyone who cared to disagree with the author was scum too. This person needs therapy for the hurt they experienced. The therapy they chose was to lash out at those they disagreed with politically.
Chalk this episode up to another example of the true nature of politics – it’s about power. I can only hope that my fellow citizens start to recognize this. But I’m not going to hold my breathe on that. Don’t worry, another “crisis” will come along, which will require one political side to label the other negatively. And they will use the same language that their opponents did at some point in the past. The only question is what the crisis will be.