The American social consciousness now resonates with outrageous proposals. We have an election in which one leading candidate claims he will make the country great while appearing like a one-man revolt against government. How might he govern without government? Another, almost-leading candidate makes extraordinary statements of putting down the moneyed powers, without saying how that can be accomplished either. It’s all outrageous, but outrage is now popular. Especially in the media.
There’s a larger outrage for which the implications are ignored. Republican senators vowed to block any candidate the president might nominate for the vacancy on the Supreme Court, simply because they dislike the president. This doesn’t leave the Demos clean. They’ve made somewhat similar proposals in the past. It’s an outrage, but few are outraged.
How come? What does this mean?
The <how come> is simple. This time, it’s a purchased political position. Unfortunately, this brands the entire Republican party as obstructionist. Perhaps the brand is deserved.
This is not a new situation. Leading positions on many federal agencies now remain technically open because the senate has refused to act on confirmations. The senate didn’t disapprove the confirmations. It simply refused to act, and the Supreme Court nomination will be just one more. Obstruction is a technique to gain power by making government fail. If you want to know who paid for this purchased position, look at who brought the Citizens United and McCutcheon cases to the Supreme Court.
The <what it means> is not simple. It means the conservative senators openly advocate making the judiciary a political institution. This is politics by destruction rather than discourse. Rather like the military policy that destroys a village in order to save it. Except this time the policy applies at home.
Presidents have occasionally appointed ideologues to the court ever since the U.S. was founded. Every time with senate confirmation. That’s no excuse. Political ideology shouldn’t be a principle of our governance. In the principle taught by my high school civics, the judiciary was separated from the political process. However, the outspoken senators now espouse selection of the judiciary by political belief.
There are often good reasons for conservatism—for reflecting on the lessons of the past before launching in a new direction. But a political judiciary not conservative. It’s pavement on a one-way road to dictatorship.
Why so little public outrage on this?
Some 680 cities and 16 states passed resolutions favoring a constitutional amendment to counter the Citizens United decision of the Supreme Court, the decision that opened politics to corporate spending. With so much public concern, why so little outrage regarding the implication of the senators’ actions? Well, for the same reason that the public cheers the outrageous statements of candidates. The public feels helpless, acts helpless, and cheers rebellion. On either the right or the left.
Thus the public absolves itself of responsibility.
The public cheers the politicians who claim to be right while doing nothing more than calling the other side wrong. In contrast, responsibility is seeing yourself as a cause for what’s happening around you, and acting on it. When the public abandons responsibility, the result is dictatorship—someone who adopts the responsibility for you.
That’s the supreme outrage.