This post was originally published at smerconish.com
Democratic Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Clair McCaskill of Missouri and Heidi Heitkamp need to vote for the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh- for the good of the Democratic Party.
Full disclosure, I consider my political beliefs to be mainstream but will acquiesce to being called a liberal, a progressive, or whatever current nomenclature is being foisted on me.
And while I usually vote Democrat, I have occasionally voted for Republicans, or in the case of the 2003 California gubernatorial recall election, Mary Carey, an adult film actress (because, well, how often does one actually get the chance to vote for a porn star for governor).
That said, I understand the anger from the left regarding seating Kavanaugh, especially considering how the seat that is now occupied by Neil Gorsuch should by all rights belong to Merrick Garland. I also fully appreciate the damage seating Kavanaugh can do to liberal ideals in the long term.
Despite knowing that Kavanaugh holds positions that could impact abortion, health care, the environment, voting rights, election reform, and possibly even shield President Trump from being subpoenaed, questioned, or in any manner having to respond to civil lawsuits or criminal charges, I stand by my belief that these four Senators need to vote for his confirmation.
Here’s my rationale: rather than focusing solely on the vacant Supreme Court seat, no matter how important that seat is, I’m also looking at the impact of four Senate seats that will be in the possession of the victorious party for the next six years. I want to put the Democratic party in a stronger position not just for 2018, but for 2020 and beyond.
Yes, a Supreme Court justice can alter the course of America for the next forty years, but four Senators over the next six years can have an influence over a lot of important decisions (including the confirmation of another two or three or more Supreme Court justices).
I would even wager that if the Democrats were to get control of the Senate they would refuse to seat any justice nominated by a Republican president, even if the court were to find itself down to only six or seven justices. Personally, I don’t think that’s what the Founding Fathers had intended- but McConnell has set a new standard for the future.
As for the outside chance that the Democrats could block Kavanaugh’s confirmation, which I don’t believe is possible barring the discovery of a “smoking gun” in Kavanaugh’s record, Trump would simply nominate someone else who would probably make us pine away for Old Brett Kavanaugh. This seat is going to be Trump’s to fill, so the goal should be to do everything to not allow him to have another opportunity in the future.
Democrats need to be looking at both the short and long-term ramifications and plan for a more practical outcome rather than a far-fetched dream. The current makeup of the Senate is 51-49 with Democrats defending 24 of 33 seats in 2018, many of them in traditionally Republican states. While winning the Senate is a possibility considering the current environment, merely maintaining a close minority of no less than 52-48 would be considered in many pundits’ views a success.
Losing those four seats because you wanted them to make a political statement is pig-headed.
And while the idea of “wait till next year” might have worked for the Chicago Cubs, even if it took 108 tries, the case for flipping the Senate doesn’t get remarkably easier in 2020.
In 2020, the Republicans will be defending 20 seats, but most of them are in strongly Republican states, and with a bad showing in 2018, it would put the Democratic party in a position of having to flip five or more seats to win control, potentially keeping the Senate in GOP hands till 2022 when the map finally favors the Democrats.
How many Supreme Court nominations do you think will take place between now and then? The thought of being the minority in the Senate for 4 more years simply because you wanted to make a defiant stand is great for movies, but not so much in real life.
It would be the Democrats’ Alamo.
Yes, I’ve heard commentators and some of my Democratic friends claim that if those four Senators voted for the confirmation of Kavanaugh, Democrats in their state will not only be furious, but they will lose the enthusiasm to come out and vote in 2018.
If the voters of those states feel that the only thing that is important over the next six years is a vote on Supreme Court seat in 2018 and don’t turn out in November; if everything they have witnessed in this past year and one half, from Trump and his swamp, isn’t enough to overcome their preferred candidate refusing to take up a fool’s errand, then perhaps, they and the rest of us, truly do deserve the government and the leaders we get.