Tit for Tat Will Not Save the Supreme Court: The Fox and The Stork

The Supreme Court is in the process of changing hands. The prospect is terrifying to many of us. Is this The Handmaid’s Tale stepping out of our television screens and onto our streets?

Yet, Democrats’ vows to block the nomination using the same tactics as Republicans with Merrick Garland is not the answer and will only cheapen the political system.

Fellow fox one day spent a considerable effort and invited his fellow stork for dinner. The spread was small and had few trimmings. The gallant, for all his work, had nothing but a clear soup. He lived frugally.

This soup was served on a plate. The stork, with her long beak, could not manage the least drop. And the foxy humorist lapped everything up in a moment.

In revenge for this trick, some time later, the stork reciprocated the invitation.  

I’d love to come over, the fox said immediately, with my friends I don’t stand on ceremony.

At the appointed hour, the fox ran to his hostess the stork’s house. He found the dinner cooked perfectly. Bon appetit, above all—in this foxes are never lacking. He rejoiced at the scent of the meat, which was already cut into tiny morsels. He could only imagine their delicious flavor.

To humiliate him, the meal was served in a tall vase with a long thin neck. The stork’s beak fit perfectly, but Mister fox’s muzzle was of another size. He returned home fasting, tail between his legs and ears hanging low, as embarrassed as a fox bested by a chicken. 

Tricksters, I’m writing this for you. Fate lies in wait.

There was a time when Democrats and Republicans might have dined together. Current partisanship sets the table with nothing but flat soup plates and long neck vases. With no third (or fourth or fifth) party to drive the need for compromise and yes, even collegiality, the sole goal of each party is to starve the other.

When the Republicans blocked Merrick Garland’s nomination, we who wanted him in the court called foul. So why is the situation any different now? –Because Brett Kavanaugh scares us? He is a classic Republican candidate, who any President from that party would nominate.

As children we learn that two wrongs don’t make a right. We may have been introduced to that homily when we were young, but that does not make it a childish ideal. Perhaps you want to say to me that I’m being naïve, that politics demands such reprisals. And I’ll agree with you that that may be politics … of a dysfunctional democracy. What are we teaching our young citizens with behavior that models high-level hypocrisy?

The definitive swing right that is likely to occur on the Supreme Court will be bad for the country. There will be a regression to sanctifying well-off white guy privilege. The reputation of the highest court will be sullied by its obvious partisanship (and for the likes of me, partisanship diametrically opposed to all that I believe in). Even so, there has to be a better way to fight this threat than resorting to the same flagrant behavior deployed by Republicans under the Obama administration. Then the fight itself denigrates the democracy and digs us deeper into our respective trenches. Let’s not game-ify democracy.

What to do?

Fight the nominations using clean tactics—in depth, pointed questions to the candidates to expose their thinking processes and views as fully as possible. Cross-party dialogue with Republicans capable of voting their own mind and not just on party lines. Close scrutiny of every single judicial nomination in the lower courts. Engage in individual activism to create communities, which support universal human rights and basic income. Work toward system change—should Supreme Court judges require a two-thirds vote, so that there is always a need for compromise and conciliation? Lastly, but perhaps most important, bring the full power of your consumer choices to bear on the corporations that support this administration or (more insidiously) allow unfair and/or inhumane business practices to continue.

What we need now is revolutionary actions, not petty political behavior. Let’s set the table for a full, healthy meal everyone can enjoy.

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