I’m not a particularly religious Jew, but I found myself very much looking forward to Rosh Hashana this year. It wasn’t because I was going to be celebrating with family or, frankly, celebrating at all. I just needed 2020 to end and if moving to the Jewish calendar was going to make that happen then I was all in on 5781.
Then Ruth Bader Ginsburg died and suddenly 5781 was just as bad as 2020.
I have since learned that according to Jewish tradition, a person who dies on Rosh Hashana is known as a tzaddik, a person of great righteousness.
There is no better descriptor for Ginsburg and in reading the touching tributes to her these past few days, it is clear that everyone – no matter their partisan affiliation – saw righteousness in her.
I was lucky enough to see it in person when I heard her speak just over a year ago.
Her story, told in her own words, oozes with the righteousness that that electrified generations of dedicated RBG fans who love her for her opinions and dissents as much as her pop culture domination.
Ginsburg will go down in history as an undisputed icon. She will also now be forever linked to what will be a difficult and ugly battle for her seat.
The next 40 some-odd days will be filled with threats of court-packing, expanding the court and doing away with the filibuster.
We’ll relitigate former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s decision to take the so-called nuclear option in 2013 and whether Sens. Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham and other Republicans are hypocrites for refusing to even give Judge Merrick Garland a hearing in 2016. NB: the nuclear option was and is still a mistake and yes, they are hypocrites.
But I, like so many Democrats, am just so damn tired of fighting against a GOP that seems to play politics better than we do.
I’ve often lamented that if we had even half the amount of ruthlessness as McConnell the political landscape would look a lot different and his decision to move ahead with filling the vacancy left by Ginsburg when Americans have already started voting, is a testament to that.
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There are plenty of articles on what Democrats should do to protect Ginsburg’s seat, but if I’m really honest I don’t think anything will work.
In the immediate aftermath of her passing, I thought that there might be enough Republican senators who would recognize the absurdity of a president filling a Supreme Court seat with just over a month to go until an election. Plenty of them were on record saying as much!
But with Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney’s decision to vote on Trump’s nominee, all hopes were dashed and I’m left, as usual, thinking that Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski is the only decent one in the lot (Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins undoubtedly made her choice to even have a chance at keeping her seat).
To this end, my dad texted me on Tuesday writing, “It’s happening no matter what. Just have to win.”
This is the same dad who told me on election night, when it became clear that Hillary Clinton would lose, that this is what America deserves. Our obsession with reality TV, our greediness, and moral rot had led us to a place where Donald Trump could win the presidency. And though I wake up every day wishing it weren’t so, he was right then and he’s right now.
Democrats have to win in November, not because of Ginsburg’s seat. Her seat is gone.
We have to win for Justice Stephen Breyer’s seat. Breyer, an 82-year-old Clinton appointee, regularly flies under the radar since he hasn’t been sick or achieved diva status like Ginsburg, but when all is said and done, his seat is as valuable as hers.
It follows that Democrats have to be smart about the messaging surrounding this impending battle.
We must fight for Ginsburg’s legacy, but the reality is that it is now intertwined with saving Breyer’s, too.
As the saying goes, may Ginsburg’s memory be a revolution.
The revolution I’m looking for is one in turnout to ensure strong Democratic majorities and, perhaps most critically, to save her friend and colleague’s seat from falling into Republican hands.
That must be our focus now.