Beckett decided he was going to write an open letter to the senators from his state of Texas. I applaud this action, I believe that in times of need one should contact the senators of their state as these are our lawfully and democratically elected representatives and it is important we keep in touch with them about how we want to be represented during their stay in office.
On the other hand…there’s a few…ideological and factual issues I have with this letter, which I desire to address. I hate to seem like I’m picking on Beckett here, but where as he is fairly knowledgeable on matters of faith when it comes to polytheism and its mechanics, politically we are at odds, and he likes to present things in certain…absolutest ways.
A Letter to My Senators: Do Your Job
Dear Senators Cornyn and Cruz:
One of the most harmful political trends of the past 30 years or so has been perpetual campaigning. Instead of winning elections and then going to work doing the jobs the people elected them to do, politicians across the spectrum are campaigning endlessly and are neglecting their obligations as public servants. Rather than considering what’s best for the country, every decision is made according to whether it will bring in campaign contributions and win votes for re-election.
I myself am not a fan of perpetual campaigning. Beckett here does raise the valid issue that if one is constantly campaigning, then one is less focused on the task at hand. What Beckett fails to take into account here is that it’s been shown through success, he who works longer and harder to get his name out there has a better chance of success than they guy stuck in the office actually doing his job.
I’m sure I’ve pointed this out before, but had the campaining not started as early as it did, going into the GOP primary for example, would be 20 individual candidates. Much like brewing a fine mead, things must be allowed to ferment. Indeed, even on the Democratic side of things, had the campain not started as early as it did, Beckett’s own beloved choice of Sanders would not be in the race at all, much less showing as well as he has. Though it has taken valuable time away from their respective duties, the results are that we have in fact narrowed down the candidates to those with the highest chances of success.
Even if we don’t like who they are at all.
Fun fact, in polls it’s discovered that Congress has a terrible approval rating, but each individual representative polls very highly in their electorate. It’s not that we hate our politicians, its that we hate everyone else’s who doesn’t agree with us. This will be important to keep in mind later.
As you know, there is a vacancy on the United States Supreme Court. President Obama has fulfilled his constitutional obligation by nominating Merrick Garland to replace the late Justice Scalia. Yet the Senate, under the direction of the leaders of your party, is shirking its responsibility to confirm this nominee…
I’d say that this is my first real issue with Beckett’s letter. Primarily the line: “…is shirking its responsibility to confirm this nominee…”
The truth is that while it is the duty of the senate to confirm nominies, the truth is that their duty is to confirm “A Nominee” not “This Nominee.” It my life time, when Judges have had to be replaced, often a series of nominees are presented and vetted. There is no law stating that the Senate must confirm the first choice of a president to replace a supreme court judge. In fact, I somewhat recall that many a first choice by a Republican President was in fact rejected by Democrats. President Obama is free to choose any number of nominees and the Senate is allowed to confirm it’s choice from those nominees. If it deems to confirm them at all. It is still a vote and if a consensus cannot be reached, no confirmation will be given. This is how the system lawfully works.
The Senate is it’s own body, not beholding in any manner to the power or position of the President. It owes him nothing, it has not responsibility to him. It’s responsibility is to the people they are elected to represent. If enough of the representatives feel that it is not in the best interests or the expressed desires of the people who elected them to confirm this or any other nominee, then they are doing their job by not confirming any nominee.
…Senator McConnell says “the people should have a voice” in filling this vacancy. The people had a voice in 2012 when they elected Barack Obama to be President until January 20, 2017. Senator McConnell’s claim that there is a “longstanding tradition” of not considering nominees during election years is simply not true.
Yeah, how true or untrue that tradition is is probably based around how well liked the president is at the time and who was in charge of the Senate. Funny thing though, the first recorded incident I’ve heard of trying to block a presidential nominee in the year of an election happened by the Democrats towards a Republican president in I believe it was the 60-70’s. In which case this “untrue tradition” was in fact started by the political party Herr Beckett seems to be in support of against those Herr Beckett finds himself opposed to.
I wonder what he would have said then, about the duty of the Senate to instate the presidents desired choice.
Now, did the people have a voice in 2012? Yes they did. However, nearly a full presidential term has passed. The situation and desires of the populace have changed, on all sizes of all isles. Back in 2012, we still had a fairly clear Democratic/Republican split, although tensions were growing. Now however, the political “Right” is seperated into at least a dozen different factions (hence the plethora of early candidates) which has narrowed itself down to the three largest groups: Populist (Trump), Conservative (Cruz), and Establishment (Rubio), with Constitutionalists, Libertarians, Rationalists, Alt Right, and others having smaller yet vocal numbers..
But even on the democratic side of things, you have a split between Progressives (Sanders) and Establishment (Hilary). President Obama may represent Establishment Democrats with a hint of Progressivism, but he cannot be said to represent the Progressive side in its totality…much less the dozen odd “right” political ideologies. To try and claim that the voice of the president, elected nearly four very tumultuous years ago before drastic shifts in all the political landscapes, accurately can represent the present will of the electorate is a false claim to make.
But let us be honest what this is truly about. It is not that Beckett may truly believe that Obama does accurately represent the desires of the nation (which clearly he does not). It is about the fact that this is a very critical time for the supreme court. Right now there are 4 Left Wing judges, 3 Right Wing Judges, and 1 judge who splits the middle. Previously it was 4/1/4 with even odds of either political viewpoint to be made law, and a fairer chance that the law would not in fact be influenced by political ideologies. If Obama gets his choice, even of a moderate left wing judge, the balance then shifts to 5/1/3, presenting a majority to the political left to win every ruling until another justice dies, at which point at best the balance is restored, or the balance is further eroded. Destroying any power the “conservative” judges have to rule and severely crippling the power of the lone moderate.
Plus, there is the very real fear that Hillary or Sanders will not win. A delayed confirmation, or a confirmation given to the new president, presents an opportunity to maintain the status quo of 4/1/4, making a balance in the supreme court. This then, is the great threat to Beckett and those who hold this position. Balance does not serve, only supremacy does. For their ideas are the right ideas, those ideas opposed them are wrong. Those who support the progress of their ideas are doing their job. Those like Cruz who are hindering them, are in neglect of their job.
The American people need and deserve a fully staffed Supreme Court. If the Senate refuses to consider any nominee until after the inauguration of the next President, it is almost certain we will have the longest vacancy since the Civil War. This is inexcusable.
The key point here is the meme I chose. “For You.” It is inexcusable for you, Beckett. For me, I find it perfectly excusable. For the Republicans…it’s excusable. For the populace that supports their choice to hold off until a new president, this “longest vacancy since the civil war” is perfectly excusable.
Now, digging further into the batman memes, Is a fully staffed Supreme Court what we both deserve and need?
Well, perhaps it is the Supreme Court we deserve, but is it the one we need right now? The answer is, no. At the moment, we need to settle the election. We need to determine the will of the people and how they wish to be represented. We need to listen to their voices. Ironically, Beckett is insisting we listen to past voices, but that listening to present voices is a dereliction of duty.
The Court We Need is, in my mind…a balanced court. We will never completely remove ideologies from our legal system. We will never have just pure law in our courts, as much as I would that we did. But we can mitigate bias by allowing our Supreme Court to be Balanced on the Left-Right scale. Not by tipping it one way or the other.
However ideologically desirable it would be for someone like Beckett.
Merrick Garland would not have been my choice to replace Justice Scalia, but he is imminently qualified, and was held up by members of your own party as the kind of judge President Obama should nominate. The Senate should immediately hold hearings, and unless these hearings turn up some unknown evidence that would disqualify him, vote to confirm Judge Garland to the United States Supreme Court.
See, through out this letter, and some of his previous posts, Beckett has insisted that people do their jobs, their duty. In this particular case that their job is to explicitly confirm this nominee. They HAVE to do this. What Beckett fails to really explain though is Why the Have to do this.
Because we need a fully staffed court? No we don’t. It’s not a pressing issue right now. There’s no major cases that are suffering from a delay. The last major case there was that anyone was concerned about or that had any pressing need I know of was Gay Marriage, and that got resolved. Waiting a few more months, even half a year, isn’t really going to kill us. Heck, letting Obama put forth more than one choice over the next six months wouldn’t be that big an issue.
Because we Deserve it? What do we deserve, an unbalanced court given to vote entirely along ideological lines stamping out the voices of 4 Judges? Look, Beckett might think that’s a wonderful thing if it gets him the legal backing for his political stances and crushes his enemies, but as a man with no dogs on either side I find that prospect highly terrifying, and as a deus of law I find that highly unjust. Especially in a democratic society where there is supposed to be fair representation of all people. Not just the ones we ideologically identify with.
These are not answers to the why. But perhaps Beckett’s other post I talked about is. In it, he puts for that the “Long Decline” has come, that the end is upon us all, and that at best we can stave it off by electing the likes of Sanders. Ignoring the rather “sign wearing” feel of the piece, one gets the impression that Beckett sees the end upon us, that the ideas he believes in are the only solution for at least slowing the problem, and that any ideas counter to those he holds to will speed up the solution. Why then is it so important for Cruz and others to confirm the nominee of Obama right this damn minute? Because Beckett believes in ideals like those Obama professes, and thus only their solution will be our salvation. To permit any chances at another idea or solution to take place, or even maintain status quo, is then an act of Armageddon itself, hastening the end.
This is even confirmed in his “afterword” which I will bold to illustrate.
I’m not thrilled with the appointment of Merrick Garland. I would have preferred a more consistently progressive judge. I would have preferred someone who’s younger (and thus would be a reliable progressive voice for decades) and someone who would expand the diversity of the court. And for the sake of all the Gods, could we please get someone on the Supreme Court who didn’t go to Harvard or Yale? Diversity means more than gender and ethnicity.
So, not only would balance be a bad thing, the fact that Garland is politically closer to Kennedy (the 1 swing voter if I recall correctly), is something Beckett does not like. Which means at best there would be a 4/2/3, with at least one of the 2 likely to swing left and join the 4 for a majority left vote.
Politically Progressive. Check.
Younger, able to influence the Court for decades to come. Check.
And of course, “Diversity” which at this point is becoming a key word for “I choose based on sex and race, rather than merit.” Hmm, more of that Racism, Beckett said was unacceptable at Patheos. What can you do?
Back to the main letter:
Senators, some things are simply more important than scoring political points for your party. Do the job the people of Texas elected you to do and that the American people pay you to do. Stop your perpetual campaign long enough to actually govern.
I can’t help but feel that if Trump gets elected and a judge has to be replaced in Trump’s last year of office, Beckett will be singing a very different tune about this whole “you must nominate” thing. What Beckett is also forgetting is that Cruz at least is a republican (I’m presuming Beckett did not vote for him based on what Beckett has said about voting for him now). Which means that Cruz at least is representing the will of the people who elected.
A number which ironically enough does not include Beckett himself. I’m guessing Beckett voted for “The other guy.” So it’s a bit funny that Beckett is demanding Cruz do the job Beckett wants him to do (having not voted for him) over the voices of those who did. As much as I may personally not like Cruz or agree with a number (even majority) of his positions, I can at least be honest and say Cruz is in fact doing his job.
So I’m going to look at the after word a bit which Beckett address to the general audience.
If one or both of your Senators is refusing to hold confirmation hearings, please write to them and politely insist they do their damn jobs. Remember that an actual letter carries more weight than an e-mail, and a personal letter carries far more weight than a form letter.
Remember earlier when I mentioned how most people were happy with their representatives, but not happy with the Senate. This whole letter is that. The senate isn’t doing it’s job because it’s not doing what Beckett wants it to do. It is completely functioning (or not functioning as the case may be) exactly as was intended. Each set of representatives are representing the people that elected them.
That they are not doing the job Beckett wants, without the outcome he desires is not a failing of the senate or of the senators, or any other representative house and its members. Perhaps it is a failure of Beckett, to consider the validity of other ideals than his own (Ironic that he was kind to Halstead’s ideas regarding the Gods, but not as kind to the ideas of Cruz on politics. Perhaps it is his politics that holds more value than his faith?)
I’m not thrilled with the appointment of Merrick Garland…
This is the part mentioned above, relevant stuff is there. Except, perhaps the part where he says “diversity is more than gender and ethnicity,” which is true. There is also Ideological Diversity…which Beckett is not supporting here. He desires another progressively minded judge…but finds the possibility of a conservatively minded judge abhorrent, and a moderately minded judge distasteful. The hypocrisy is not unnoticed.
While I imagine Merrick Garland’s opinions would be closer to Anthony Kennedy than to Ruth Bader Ginsberg, he is well qualified to sit on the Supreme Court. And I can’t overstate the importance of the first paragraph of this letter: perpetual campaigning has resulted in the dysfunctional government that has angered and frustrated people to the point that they’re voting for Donald Trump for President.
There’s a lot of well qualified people to sit on the Supreme Court. We don’t have to just take the first Johnny Come Along.
But it’s the highlighted portion I find….so rich. Perpetual campaigning is not the reason for the dysfunctional government which has then led to people turning to Donald Trump. Perpetual campaigning may well be a symptom, but it not the reason. Now it’s been made pretty clear I am no fan of Trump, but we must be honest about why he is so popular and it is not the perpetual campaigning. Trump has been perpetually campaigning and that has not in the least harmed his attraction to the masses.
However, that would be a post in its own right that I’ll have to do another time. Probably with a lot of video links to people like myself who do not like Trump, but at least can understand why he’s so damn attractive to a lot of people.
There are elements of my job I don’t particularly like, but I do them because I have an obligation to do what I’m being paid to do. Senators have an obligation to hold hearings and confirm a new justice. They need to do their damn job.
And they will.
But no one ever said it had to be done on your time table Beckett…or to confirm the Justice of a President you liked, when you liked it, and how you liked it. A justice will come, he or she will be confirmed in due time, as it is fated to happen. Just because the universe, or the nation, doesn’t abide by your will does not mean anyone is failing their job or their duties. It simply means you feel entitled, that you deserve and need, for your way to hold sway.
Lucius Svartwulf Helsen