I like Senator Chris Coons of Delaware. He’s a solid Democrat of the old school. He’s a nice guy with liberal beliefs and has, as far as I know, always tried to do the right thing. So would somebody please take him aside and slap some sense into him?
Wait. I’ll do it.
First off, Chris, those people across the aisle? They’re not your friends. Not really. They may be nice to you, they may laugh and joke with you, they may even say they agree with you, but don’t think they’re your friends. Down at the bone, they’re Trump Republicans. They may disagree with Trump, they may actually despise him, but they’re going to do what he wants. Trump Republicans support Trump, period.
Second — and Chris, I shouldn’t have to tell you this — they’re not going to respect tradition. They’re not going to respect precedent. They’ve shown you that repeatedly. What in the hell makes you think they’d start respecting those things now? What they respect is the exercise of raw political power.
And finally, because they’re not your friends and because they’re not going to respect tradition or precedent and because at this point they only respect political power, they’re not going to be persuadable. They’re just not. A few may be willing to agree that it’s wrong to rush a SCOTUS nomination through 43 days before election day (votes are actually being cast right now, for fuck’s sake), but Chris, they’re not motivated by respect or friendship; they’re motivated by the only thing they fear more than Trump: losing their election.
I hate to say this, Chris, I really do. But right now the only way to get Congressional Republicans to do what’s right is to use their own tactics against them. Do it reluctantly, but do it. Let them know that if they replace Justice Ginsburg before the election, you’re going to go Outlaw Josey Wales on their ass. Tell them that, and mean it. Follow through on it.
Don’t waste your time trying to persuade Trump Republicans. Instead, persuade your Democratic colleagues in the House to go Josey Wales with you. And let Trump and his Congressional co-conspirators know you’re willing to burn the motherfucker down.
If they hold a confirmation hearing, Democrats in the Senate and House should walk out. Walk right the fuck out, and don’t go back. When they want to pass the next continuing resolution in order to fund the government, tell them to piss up a rope. Start another round of impeachment hearings in the House. Impeach Trump again. Hell, impeach Justice Kavanaugh for lying to Congress. Launch an investigation into how Kavanaugh paid off all his debts before his confirmation hearing. Investigate the Russian bounty on troops in Afghanistan. Investigate the Trump family’s alleged financial crimes. Investigate and call witnesses and don’t do a damn thing else until the election.
I really hate to say that. I can’t think of anything more corrosive to effective governance than deliberate sabotage by one political party. But that’s just it. That’s exactly what Republicans have done since Obama was elected. If Democrats win in the 2020 election — if they take the White House and the Senate — then we can try to return to some sort of normal governance. If Democrats lose — if Trump remains in office — then normal governance will be dead. It’ll be four more years of fighting a losing battle against authoritarianism.
The Josey Wales Way is a lousy way to run a government, even for 43 days. But as Granny Hawking said, Josey Wales was “a hard put and desperate man” and that’s where we are as Democrats. Against the blatant power grab of a hurried SCOTUS nomination, J. Wales might be the best chance we have. Because things are looking bad, and “when things look bad and it looks like you’re not gonna make it, then you gotta get mean. I mean plumb, mad-dog mean. ‘Cause if you lose your head and you give up then you neither live nor win. That’s just the way it is.”
EDITORIAL NOTE: I don’t know if I’ll feel this way tomorrow. But this is how I feel today. Republican hypocrisy and double dealing will only get worse if we try to play by normal rules.