I woke with a start yesterday morning realizing that I had forgotten to be worried about the Supreme Court for a few days. And then I imagined for a split second that everyone had forgotten to be worried about the Supreme Court for a few days. Which, I went on to worry, might mean that we’ve all just given up on it and Neil Gorsuch will become the new Associate Justice. And that leads inevitably to the conclusion that the resistance is over and Democracy is dead. Ever had a moment like that? Let’s unpack it.
First, it goes without saying, of course, but I clearly need to hear it, that “everyone” is neither the same as nor controlled by me. Just because I have spent the last few days worried about something other than the Supreme Court does not mean that everyone has too. Indeed, there are very smart, competent, awake people whose entire jobs are to remember to be worried about the Supreme Court. My job is to support those people, lend my voice and body in encouragement and follow their lead. So humbling to be reminded just what a small part I play in this great performance of resistance we are producing. And such a relief.
But even if “everyone” had focused exclusively on the emerging and ongoing crises of, oh I don’t know, Russia, immigration, legally enshrined transphobia, interference of the White House into the independence of the Justice Department, the Dakota Access Pipeline, what have I missed? Even if the entire country forgot to be worried about the Supreme Court for a few days, that absolutely doesn’t mean that we’ve all just given up on it and that Neil Gorsuch will become the new Associate Justice. One of the savings graces of our republic’s governance structure is that things do not happen overnight. It’s not ideal, but taking our eyes off the road doesn’t mean that we’ve given up on getting to our destination. It means we might need to slow down and take a deep breath, we might even need to pull off the road and check our various resources, both internal and external. But – or and — then we get back on the road newly energized and ready and able to keep moving forward.
And finally, even if (when?) Neil Gorsuch becomes the new Associate Justice, Democracy will not be dead, the resistance will not be over. Far from it. Our success at resisting the Trump and Republican Administration is not measured by how many nominations we block or bills we defeat. It is measured by our ongoing commitment to inclusive, democratic values as our guide in all actions of resistance. Neil Gorsuch will become the new Associate Justice only after we have made a lot of noise geared toward holding those in power accountable: not only for nominating/appointing a jurist who falls well outside the mainstream of American legal thought and practice; but also for failing to abide by basic rules of democratic governance (e.g. not giving Obama’s appointee even a hearing). I find it very hard to imagine that “everyone” in our great country will forget to worry about that for very long.
There’s a lot of noise out there, folks, accompanied by a lot of shiny objects – some of which seem really sharp. Don’t let it distract or discourage you. We are all doing exactly what we are supposed to be doing. Just pay attention.