Should Democrats Go to the Mattresses Over the Supreme Court?

Evan Golub via ZUMA

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

I’m in a quandary. Last night I suggested that Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the Supreme Court would energize progressives and produce a huge turnout in the November midterms. My thinking behind this was:

  • On the conservative side, the replacement would already be in place by Election Day, so it wouldn’t have any special effect on Republican turnout.
  • On the progressive side, Kennedy’s replacement would put Roe v. Wade in such obvious danger that Democrats would flock to the polls.

Obviously I could be wrong about either of these things, but put that aside for now. It turns out that the controversy of the moment among progressives is whether Democrats should put up a titanic fight to prevent a replacement from being confirmed. My assumption had been that Dems would fight, but mostly pro forma since they have no feasible way of stopping Republicans. They could try to persuade a couple of centrist Republicans to vote against anyone who might overturn Roe, but that’s pretty unlikely—and the other ideas I’ve heard go downhill from there. Republicans are going to win this fight, and the Democratic leadership knows it.

Like I said, that was my assumption behind all this. But what if Democrats do go to the mattresses? Block the doorways, disrupt quorum calls, put gum in all the locks and sugar in the gas tanks. Whatever. If that’s the case, then it becomes an all-out war and conservatives will be at least as energized as progressives. Maybe more so. That means a pro forma fight is probably the best bet.

On the other hand, the midterms are all about the Resistance. They’re all about the fight, showing a spine, and turning out the base. Wouldn’t a pro forma fight deflate all that? If Dems don’t blow up a few things, the base might get disgusted and just stay home. That means we need to declare war.

This alternative hadn’t really occurred to me. Rationally, a pro forma fight is almost certainly the best bet. But politics isn’t about rationality. It’s about inspiring your own side and deflating the other side. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a single strategy which accomplishes that here. Any ideas?

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate