Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be replaced this year, and some people are outraged

If you think voting doesn’t matter, you’re seeing explicitly why it does

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg became a modern feminist icon in the final years of service in the SCOTUS. Her replacement has been hand-picked to undo all of it to the greatest extent possible. (Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com)

Alexander Musa, Staff Writer

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died of pancreatic cancer on Sept. 18, 2020, leaving the Supreme Court of the United States with a cavernous hole in its ranks that will inevitably be filled. Despite her personal wishes to not be replaced until the next presidency, anyone who has remotely followed politics over the past four years knows that this was never an option on the table.

I believe that the facts as they stand support my assertion that the Senate is dominated by Republican hypocrisy. That’s why they’re in position to win another seat on the Supreme Court, and the outrage felt by myself and others is justified. More importantly, this debacle is also a reminder of how important it is to be informed about and to participate in our democracy.

Well before Ginsburg died, Republicans were following her bouts with cancer closely. In 2009, the late Republican Sen. Jim Bunning of Kentucky even predicted her death after a surgery for pancreatic cancer, saying that “usually nine months is the longest that anybody would live” after such a procedure (he would later apologize for his comments). She declined to step down in 2014 knowing Republicans would do everything in their power to deny President Barack Obama the opportunity to replace her. For their part, they have publicly made clear they would put a conservative in her place.

Ideally for them, this would have occurred any time before 2020, so that the looming prospect of an election year wouldn’t paint doing so in nearly as negative a light as it is now.

Of course, there would still have been quite the battle over her replacement, mirroring that of now Justice Brett Kavanaugh producing insincere tears on command in public over accusations of sexual assault somehow ruining his life, in between declarations of his fondness for beer and demands to know if his questioners also like beer.

The result would still be the same; a conservative justice turning the court 6-3 in favor of a party obsessed with the concept of giving birth at all costs, even for victims of rape. A party that is equally obsessed with the concept of not providing reasonable healthcare options to the American people out of fear that some nebulous others in our midst would also benefit from it. And that’s before COVID-19 firmly planted the Republicans as a party who have put religion before basic scientific understanding about communicable diseases.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was quick to accept President Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barret. Politically a polar opposite to the Justice she will likely replace, she is on record for criticizing Chief Justice John Roberts’ decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act. She is critical of Roe v. Wade. Senator Dianne Feinstein took her to task in 2017 for her dogmatic speeches against abortion, casting doubt on her qualifications to preside over such cases.

In a sense, she’s a perfect Republican candidate for the Supreme Court. Someone sent forward in the face of millions of American women whose politics and beliefs do not align with hers, in hopes of silencing their concerns simply because of her gender.

McConnell denied a hearing for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, on the grounds that the 2016 elections were just around the corner. McConnel falsely claimed that in an election year it was “long-standing tradition of not fulfilling a nomination.” It was a position shared by many of his fellow Republicans, his 2020 flip-flop similarly matched.

There has never been any such tradition, which is probably why it was so easy for McConnel to break it. After all, the president said it had been specifically fabricated to stymie exited the Oval Office in January 2017.

Ginsburg’s death and eventual replacement come just before what is certain to be a contentious election. Our president has cast doubt on the basic process of voting by warning of a “rigged election.” He has set up Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to effectively cripple the U.S. Postal Service’s ability to handle the surge of mail-in votes this November

But more disturbingly, at his Sept. 29 debate Trump called out to a known hate group for support in quelling leftists and “Antifa.” The “Proud Boys,” who have attempted to disavow their connections to white supremacist groups across the country while accepting their assistance in assaulting protestors, were ecstatic to be brought up by name.

Despite all this, the Democratic National Committee’s candidate for the presidency, Joe Biden, is struggling to win over some voters based on his stances over key issues. 

According to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll from Sept. 23, voters under 40 years of age are increasingly leaning towards the 77-year-old challenger to President Trump, but that only tells part of the story. An article posted by the Pew Research Center in August showed that well over half of all Biden supporters intend to vote for him simply because he isn’t Donald Trump. Less than ten percent of those who responded to Pew claimed that Biden’s policy positions are a key factor to their support.

Indeed, Biden has earned ire from progressives for his policy positions. He has repeatedly stood against Medicare for All, even as voters have polled increasingly in support for it. He does not support a total ban on fracking, a concern in states such as Pennsylvania where voters have polled that they do support a ban. Despite President Trump’s attempts to paint him otherwise, Biden does not support defunding the police. In a June op-ed for USA Today, Biden even proposed “an additional $300 million to reinvigorate community policing in our country.” 

And in response to critics’ accusations of his softness towards violent protesters, Biden has openly denounced Antifa when asked to do so. 

Another factor in this election is that the U.S. regularly experiences a dismal poll turnout. Pew Research Center said in 2018 that the U.S. voter turnout trails the majority of its partners in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, placing 26th out of 32 countries.

Many Americans are regularly disengaged politically and disinterested in voting. Some think that politics do not affect them, or at the very least only affect the people they hate. Some believe they can’t affect politics whatsoever, or they feel that candidates like Joe Biden or Donald Trump do not represent them. 

Speaking personally, it is disappointing that the “best” choice versus Trump falls short in many areas that I am personally concerned about. I worry about climate change. I worry about police officers getting away with the murder of African Americans, and I don’t believe simply giving them more money will fix the open white supremacy that has overtaken many precincts across the country. I want better options, I don’t feel that I am getting them and it’s easy to want to just walk away.

But if you want proof that participation in our democracy is worth more than a Facebook post of your “I Voted” sticker, look at 2016, when Trump convinced enough of the country that he would build a wall to stop the “animals” coming from Mexico, and won the presidency.

If you want less of 2016 and 2020, get involved and stay involved. Whether it’s actively working in campaigns, marching in the streets, or simply reading more to be better informed, get involved and stay involved.

Being uninvolved, whether out of disinterest or spite, affects more than the presidency. It affects everything at the local level. If you are angry about what is happening to Ginsburg’s seat, about our nation’s response to COVID-19 or about the attempts to sabotage mail-in voting, use that anger to fuel your support for the causes you believe in. It’s worked for Trump’s supporters.