If you didn’t vote in the last midterm election, and a lot of people didn’t, then you shouldn’t be surprised, or for that matter upset about today’s Supreme Court decision affirming Donald Trump’s Muslim ban.
Ezra Klein at Vox, always out front on important issues like this, has written a terrific piece as to how we got into this situation. He says look no further than what happened four years ago.
The Pew Research Center had dubbed it the “Meh Midterm” election. It was the middle of Barack Obama’s second term.
- When the votes were counted, weeks later, turnout was 36.3 percent — the lowest it had been in 72 years. “Neither party gave voters an affirmative reason to show up at the polls,” complained the New York Times. Some commentators — like, well, me — argued that there was no such thing as a dull election when both the Senate and the Supreme Court were so closely divided, but such arguments fell on deaf ears.
- The absence of enthusiasm favored Republicans: They picked up nine Senate seats, ripping control of the chamber away from the Democrats for the first time since 2006. And did it matter? It did. 466 days later, Antonin Scalia unexpectedly died, opening a vacancy that could’ve swung the Supreme Court for a generation.
Of course there was the ill-fated attempt to confirm Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, but the new Senate majority leader had a different idea. From Vox:
Liberals will forever loathe Sen. Mitch McConnell for denying Merrick Garland so much as a hearing for the vacant seat. And they’re right to do so; McConnell insisted that a Supreme Court vacancy could never and should never be filled in an election year.
It was a ridiculous argument, and everyone knew it. Raise your hand if you believe McConnell and the Senate Republicans will refuse to confirm Trump’s nominee to replace Anthony Kennedy if his seat opens up in 2020. Anyone? I didn’t think so.
And Klein takes the argument a step further. He writes that the possibility of a Supreme Court nominee was a big reason conservatives turned out for Donald Trump in 2016. “It’s possible McConnell’s gambit elected Donald Trump.”
And now we have Neil Gorsuch and a “travel” ban, which is really a Muslim ban. It’s just one of many 5-4 decisions to come from a Supreme Court with a Trump justice.
It’s just over five months until the next midterm on November 6. The Senate could be in play. Mark your calendars now. Don’t sit this one out.