IDROS grieves with you all!
From the depths of the morass that has engulfed the majority of 2020, it is no surprise that anyone might think about heroes. We see heroes every day on the front lines, and our definitions of what it means to be a hero have likely shifted. Furthermore, most of the great superheroes of literature and pop culture were born during history’s darkest moments. IDROS is not sure any took the form of a short Jewish lady from Brooklyn.
It pains me to lose such an amazing soul…especially at a time like this, rife with divisiveness, fear and hatred. And let’s not forget the pandemic, which continues to haunt our world, adding to the stress and heightened madness of an increasingly polarized national and global community.
IDROS can hear the cheesy mid-80s Bonnie Tyler refrain echoing in his head. But even the lyrics of that classic ring hollow when put in the context of RBG…she would be appalled by that song. It plays on typical misogynistic tropes of what a hero is (a man), and who needs saving (a woman).
I am proud to admit RGB was and will always remain one of my most cherished heroes. She lived a full life, exceeding expectations at every step along her rise to sainthood; RBG continued a fight that incredible women like Susan B. Anthony and Eleanor Roosevelt initiated in the two generations prior, rejected the status quo, championing the rights of more than half of our nation’s (and world’s) population. She was a role model for the every-man and woman, her talents and grit and empathy certainly attainable to all (at least seemingly).
She is the type of person IDROS could only wish both of his children (the boy and girl alike) will grow up to become. She was a superhero in plain clothes (well, until she was rightly appointed to the SCOTUS and donned a robe of nobility…a distinction she never took for granted nor abused).
RBG understood better than anyone that the courts don’t write our laws. However, they do interpret them, and set precedents to reflect and bolster societal change for all Americans, in a society that is constantly evolving. The founders, all white men, created a government for their time, which governed and protected the ruling class…which was white Christian men. Still, they were wise enough to provide for checks and balances among the three branches of government, and to set about creating the most ambitious and mostly righteous government framework to date…a framework that for all of its faults, many of which have become far more nefarious only through the luxury of hindsight, allowed for flexibility. And RBG used this flexibility to her (and frankly all of our) advantage in a crusade to turn the tide, which was already shifting in society at large, by challenging the archaic status quo, and overturning decades and centuries of unfair prejudice and unequal precedent, mostly at the expense of women and many if not all other marginalized groups throughout America.
Her fervent wish…and obvious fear (perhaps her own kryptonite), was to live long enough to be replaced by whomever won the next presidential election (read: anyone but Donald J. Trump).
Which is why the very system for appointing RBG’s replacement, which is grossly unjust and reeks of everything RBG spent her career attempting to eradicate, stings so much. IDROS is haunted by the fact that his hero, the first woman to ever lie in state at the US Capitol, , would be disrespected so much, not just by the Republican party, but in a bit of painful irony, by the very governmental bias she dedicated her entire career to making right. This was a woman who had been confirmed to the bench of the most hallowed court in our nation by a vote of 96-3 (and who the f*$k were those three, by the way? Show your faces damnit!*** More on this below…IDROS is here for his faithful readers…allowing you to forgo the Google machine, save you the click and lessen the suspense all with one fell swoop).
A Supreme Court Justice is appointed by a sitting president, and then confirmed by the US Senate. This process is inherently unfair, granting far too much power to the Republican party, and not nearly enough to the true majority in our country. This is not a political opinion…this is fact. IDROS is not one who posts on social media how hypocritical it is that the Republicans are jamming a Conservative judge down the nation’s throat hours after the passing of a Liberal judge (they are) when they so vehemently argued against the Democrats doing the opposite in Obama’s final year as president (with far more time left in his term, mind you, than DJT has left in his current tenure). IDROS understands that this particular hypocrisy can be found on both sides of this aisle and is poisoned by politics.
HOWEVER, because of the anachronism that is the electoral college, created to protect the interests of farmers in more rural areas of the country at the time of its founding, our president is not necessarily elected by the majority of the voting public. In fact, Trump lost the popular vote, but won the election, as did GWB in 2000. The electoral college as it is laid out (a vestige from centuries past) serves to favor the Conservative Right, with deep ties to the very people who desired to secede from our nation, who rose up to fight the bloodiest war in US history in an effort to maintain their “right” to own slaves. The electoral college literally gives more electoral power to relics of the Confederacy than to the areas of the country who fought to quash the racist and ANTI-AMERICAN ideologies that nearly undermined our United States. Even as our society evolved to recognize its evil past, and to move in a more civilized and inclusive direction, the electoral college by its very existence, precludes the political and legal framework of our country from moving with the tide of social progress…and actually serves to stymie it.
FURTHERMORE…the house of congress that confirms (or denies) a presidential Supreme Court appointee is the SENATE…not the House of Representatives. How is that unfair? Well the Senate grants equal representation to all states. That’s right, two senators are elected from every state, no matter how big or small, how densely or sparsely populated, and no matter the racial make-up of its population. So yes, Delaware and Wyoming have the same Senatorial influence as Texas and California. And FYI, so called “Red” states outnumber “Blue” States in our country by almost a two to one margin (even though Blue voters outnumber Red voters overall by a slim number).
These processes favor the Republican party, allowing less populous states to have unfair influence in choosing not only our president, but the members of our Supreme Court. RBG spent her career fighting injustice like this (institutional bias that favored those who created the law, rather than the full population of people those laws should be meant to protect).
IDROS can only hope that RBG’s death can be used as a galvanizing moment for those who value the rule of law in our country…for those who see the world as she did, and seek to protect all of the citizens of America…especially the most marginalized among us. My most fervent wish is that her death unites enough of us to enact change to the political framework of our country, to move away from structural biases like the electoral college and Senate approval of Supreme Court Justice appointees (the House should do this).
***Ah yes, now back to the three Republican Senators who opposed confirming Ginsburg — Sens. Jesse Helms (N.C.) (who was as repugnant a human as there ever was, inside or outside of Congress), Robert C. Smith (N.H.) (who was one of the staunchest anti-gay rights politicos in IDROS’ lifetime, and who campaigned vigorously against the appointment of the first openly gay ambassadorial appointee, James Hormel) and Don Nickles (Okla.) (who actually was the most benign of the triumvirate, but should also be noted for his vehement opposition of the appointment of our nation’s first female Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O’Connor, for again, his unwavering anti-abortion stance and a fear that she would not be willing to overturn Roe v. Wade. It should be noted that O’Connor was appointed by Republican president Ronald Reagan and ended up being confirmed by a vote of 99-0) – all protested RBG’s support for abortion rights. The only senator who did not vote, Donald W. Riegle Jr. (D-Mich.), was in Michigan attending the funeral of Rep. Paul B. Henry (R-Mich.). It should be noted that at the time of the vote, the Senate was composed of 57 Democrats and 43 Republicans (so yes, 40 Republican Senators voted to confirm RBG).
Please remember to vote this November (or before).
All the best,