It’s been tough to unearth, but I think I found my reason to vote for Barack Obama. Don’t get me wrong—I’m a loyal Democrat. Just a very disappointed one.
Even acknowledging that Obama has faced fierce opposition, his failure to marshal the super-majority he enjoyed in his first two years in office and the abundant largess he has shown our corporate banks and Wall Street investment firms is appalling.
But here’s a reason to get back on board: Supreme Court appointments.
One of the perks of the office is that sitting presidents get to nominate Supreme Court justices. And with four of the nine justices in their seventies, it’s likely that over the next four years the Supreme Court will require some new blood. It is an opportunity for the acting president to recast the court.
This could change the course of debate and policy for years, and presents Obama with a legacy he could point to with pride. The opportunity to replace Antonin Scalia with an individual of a more moderate-stripe is especially appealing, eliminating the 5-4 tallies so many decisions end up with.
With the court split so evenly, it is critical that progressive be replaced with progressive. And that conservative be replaced with progressive in order to create a Supreme Court majority. It speaks volumes that Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell stated without any fear of reprisal whatsoever that Republican agenda item number-one was to make Obama a one-term president.
And that Speaker of the House John Boehner unabashedly held 99% of the American population hostage in January of 2011 until the one-percent and moneyed corporate interests had their lavish tax breaks extended.
Never mind the Great Recession or the dual wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nah. That’s back-burner stuff. The real issue is how do we take back in the White House? How do we make the already-wealthy wealthier and further-empower the powerful?
And we Americans swallowed it without a second thought.
“Marginalize my existence in exchange for a selfish and short-sighted desire for still-more power? Okay. But it’s not going to make my cable bill go up, is it?”
So yeah. We have a bunch of slobbering, feral knaves as our elected representation and are a citizenry either too over-scheduled or hardened by cynicism to care.
But here’s our chance to exert a bit of influence with a time-saving minimum of effort and no messy emotional involvement. Vote for Obama, and in the event he is called upon to replace a Supreme Court justice you at least know we are unlikely to end up with another Clarence Thomas, William Rehnquist or Antonin Scalia.
And voting for a president based on such a modest expectation couldn’t be more fashionable in this, the Age of Reduced Expectations. No grand ideas, no hope, no change. Just a seat on the Supreme Court.