6 Thoughts on Scalia, Trump, and American Politics

6 Thoughts on Scalia, Trump, and American Politics February 25, 2016

I’m having trouble composing blog-length pieces right now. I suspect a steady diet of cold medication has a lot to do with that, but fatigue is involved too. So here are a few random thoughts that may not be fully developed but I’d like to share anyway.

1. I take no pleasure in the untimely death of a man who, from all accounts, was a good person who served his country according to the dictates of his conscience. But Antonin Scalia was a disaster for this country and I’m very glad he’s no longer on the United States Supreme Court.

When a society begins to recognize that it is not living up to its fundamental principles and is excluding entire classes of people from full and equal rights, the proper response is to say “we’re sorry, we’ll fix that now.” Yet to Justice Scalia, intimate relations between gay couples (much less marriage) was as appropriate for legislatures to decide as the tax code or water policies. His fetishization of “original intent” would freeze the law in the 18th century and ignore trends and situations the founders could never have imagined.

The judicial career of Antonin Scalia stands as a perfect example of how intelligence and wisdom are two very different things.

2. President Obama has a constitutional obligation to appoint a replacement justice, and Republican Senators’ vow to not confirm any appointment is blatantly irresponsible. The first priority of all government officials is to do their damn jobs and keep the government working, not to score political points for their party.

The President should appoint a moderately liberal judge and the Senate should confirm him or her. If they do not, that gives Bernie or Hillary more ammunition for the general election.

3. I voted for Bernie Sanders in the Texas primary early voting. He represents the closest thing to a true progressive who has a chance of getting elected. However, if Hillary wins the nomination, I will support her in the general election. Mind you, I don’t want Hillary to be President. I just want any Republican a whole lot less.

4. In 1984 and 1988, civil rights leader Jesse Jackson ran for President. Comedian Richard Pryor had a joke about a bunch of white racists who got drunk and thought it would be funny to go vote for Jesse… and then woke up the next morning screaming “what do you mean Jesse Jackson is President?!”

I’m starting to wonder if the Republican party is going to sober up in time. Donald Trump is a fascist and Ted Cruz is a theocrat. Marco Rubio and John Kasich would make lousy Presidents, but at least they’re sane.

I still think Rubio will get the nomination, but I’m shocked Trump won South Carolina.

5. Our political process has been greatly damaged by perpetual campaigning. Nothing is done for the good of the country, but rather for whether or not it will get votes and campaign contributions. I’d like to see a ban on all campaigning more than 90 days ahead of an election. After you’re in office, you spend your time governing, not running for re-election.

6. An anonymous quote often attributed to Plato says “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” Politics is too important to leave to politicians and their wealthy benefactors. If you can do nothing else, vote.

At the same time, no society can be fundamentally transformed by politics alone. Last year’s Obergefell case legalizing same sex marriage nationwide was ultimately not a political revolution but a judicial recognition of a change in society. This is why I am not an activist but a Druid and a priest. My primary goal is not to change laws but to change relationships. It is through our relationships with each other, with the natural world, and with the Gods and Their virtues and values that we will move from fear, control, and exploitation to love, acceptance, and sustainability.

That’s all I’ve got. It’s time for another hit of cold medicine… and maybe a glass of wine.

photo via Wikipedia – public domain
photo via Wikipedia – public domain

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