The death of Justice Scalia gives new life to the troubled candidacy of Hillary Clinton. She now has a cause and forward-looking issues that can invigorate her chance of actually winning the presidency. If average Americans don’t yet grasp the meaning, we can count on the Republicans to drive home the message with their raw unconstitutional obstruction of democratic order.
The more vicious the GOP becomes in trying to block President Obama’s nominee, the more ammunition Democrats will have to rally voters. Not just angry Democrats but also independent voters disgusted with Mitch McConnell’s blatant crime against democracy. Where are those right-wing corporate lawyers at the Federalist Society who always insist on the “original meaning” of the Constitution when it serves their wealthy clients and upholds retrograde social prejudices?
Bernie Sanders has said it repeatedly during his underdog campaign: When voter turnout is high, the Democrats win. When turnout is weak, Republicans usually win. The country now has the basis for a truly energized electorate on the left and a list of vital issues for liberal-progressive constituencies to defend.
Meanwhile, Republicans are stuck in the past—promising to take us backwards on racial justice, income inequality, climate change, corporate greed and power, and social values of tolerance and fairness. The right-wing Supreme Court majority has been pulling the country in the wrong direction on all those and more. The timely death of Scalia, a snide and bitter reactionary himself, brightens the future for the country.
Up until now, the conversation among Democrats fed up with Clinton’s weak campaign always turned on the question of filling future Supreme Court vacancies. Anyone thinking of voting for Bernie was scolded, told the Sanders candidacy was too risky. We have to elect Hillary, it was said, because at least she would be sure to fill empty chairs with progressives.
Some Clintonite stooges even suggested that the brilliant Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg—a k a the “notorious RBG”—should retire right now so President Obama could name her replacement. She declined the invitation.
Now the Clinton campaign has a genuine opportunity to change its own backward focus. Instead of slamming Bernie’s forward-looking agenda, she could borrow some of his brilliant thunder. Instead of cheesy slurs about his vision, she should drop the practicality argument and say instead that neither Bernie’s agenda nor hers can survive if the right wing owns the Supreme Court.
But would people believe her? So far HRC has chosen an opposite strategy. Sanders is is portrayed as a hapless dreamer and she plays the realist. Bernie talks big solutions, while Hillary reminds people of how very difficult it is to change things. Hey, people already know that, don’t they? The campaign to date has put hope versus turgid skepticism.