Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Importance of a President

Justice Antonin Scalia
Justice Antonin Scalia at Rhodes College in Memphis on 9/22/2015
Justice Antonin Scalia spoke at Rhodes College in Memphis yesterday. As expected he delivered his “originalism” nonsense while calling the Court's decision decision in Obergefell “the furthest imaginable extension of the Supreme Court doing whatever it wants.”

By the end of our next president's first term, four justices of the Supreme Court will be in their eighties. In rounded years, Justice Ginsburg will be 88; Scalia — 85; Kennedy — 84 and Breyer will be 82 years of age. Justices Thomas and Alito will be in their seventies. The remaining Justices Roberts, Sotomayor and Kagan will be in their sixties. All but one, Justice Kagan, will be over 65.

According to Scalia's logic the Court was extreme in Brown v. Board of Education and Loving v. Virginia since they defied the original intent of the 14th Amendment. Given the ages of the justices our next president might determine if there are several more Scalias or Ginsburgs on the bench.

My governor, Scott, is perhaps one of the most inept ideologues in any state house in the country. Scott was reelected without popular support in 2014 by about a single percentage point. Statewide voter turnout was less than 50%. In Miami-Dade, a Democratic stronghold, just 40% of voters showed up. In Broward, also heavily Democratic, only 44 percent turned out. And those percentages apply only to registered voters.

In 2014 Scott spent huge sums – around $120 million – on negative attack ads. Negative ads work, not because they increase support, but because they diminish turnout for one's opponent. Republican governors and legislatures have already made it harder to register and harder to vote. GOP campaigns are all about voter suppression. They essentially diminish the process so that Democratic leaning voters see the contest as choosing the lesser of two evils — and they “choose” neither. “Why bother?”

There are two reasons that people don't take action:
  1. They are unaware of their problem or;
  2. They are not sufficiently disturbed to take action to correct it.
Any Republican president poses enormous problems for LGBT and progressive citizens. Our fragile economy (and it is very fragile) cannot survive another round of austerity coupled with tax cuts and carve-outs. LGBT citizens and their families could be at considerable risk with another Scalia or Alito making the law of the land. As George H.W. Bush famously said, we should be a “kinder, gentler nation.” To me, that means our societal views of immigrants, religious minorities and poor people. Quality healthcare is a right, not a privilege.

Our collective job over the next roughly 14 months is to make sure that people know the difference and then to make sure that they are sufficiently pissed off to register and vote. Just remember that the Tea Party lunatics and know-nothings do show up.

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