The early buzz is in on Trump’s nomination for the Supreme Court seat being vacated by Anthony Kennedy. By most rational measures, Brett Kavanaugh is a superb legal mind, a good guy, an Constitutional originalist, and a solid pick for those who want to see the Court more reliably tell the government “no, you cannot.” As I alluded yesterday, he’s not perfect, but he’s as good as a libertarian might expect from this administration.

None of this is music to the Left’s ears, of course, and the high-hysteric rhetoric began well before Kavanaugh’s name was even announced. It didn’t abate one whit since the announcement, either, and the Left’s leaders are promising to battle the selection come hell or high water.

The Republicans, despite having a slight edge in the Senate, aren’t assured of a party-line confirmation, with two pro-choice Senators (Collins-ME and Murkowski-AK) as the most likely to break ranks. On the flip side, the Democrats have several Senators who are up for re-election in states that voted for Trump, and these Democratic Senators are facing a rock-and-a-hard-place decision. Should they break ranks with their party, which has committed itself to full-up partisan opposition to anything the GOP does under Trump, and confirm his Court nomination? Or should they risk their jobs and vote as their party demands? With the vote likely to be two months or less before the mid-term election, their vote will weigh prominently on those who’ll decide if they get another 6 years in Washington.

This quandary is not a secret. The Democrats Senate Minority Whip, Dick Durbin, has indicated a willingness to sacrifice a couple seats in order to stop Kavanaugh from being seated on the Court and, in their eyes, shifting the Court’s leanings in a bad direction for a long time.

But, there’s another non-secret that makes it seem as if the Dems are playing speed-checkers rather than even rudimentary chess. As in, they haven’t thought about what happens next. That non-secret is that, in this mid-term election, the Democrats have 25 Senate seats in play, while the Republicans only have 8. This alone makes it very hard to imagine that the Dems could flip the Senate to their control in the mid-terms – and that’s before we contemplate the effects of the Kavanaugh confirmation vote.

Lets play this out.

The Senate currently has 51 Republicans, 47 Democrats, and two independents who vote with the Democrats. Senator John McCain is being treated for brain cancer, and it seems unlikely that he’ll be able to fly to DC to vote. So, that puts the party split at 50-49.

For Kavanaugh to be rejected, the Dems would have to first see (or convince) one of the aforementioned GOP senators to vote against Kavanaugh, and then convince all their vulnerable Senators to vote against as well.

Should that happen, the Democrats will have shifted their chances at taking the Senate majority in the mid-terms from terrible to near-impossible, and instead made it likely that the GOP will gain a couple seats. Make no mistake, the Right will be energized and motivated by a Kavanaugh rejection, as will many centrists and swing voters.

A more solidly Republican Senate will make it that much easier for Trump’s next pick to be confirmed, and it may very well be that Trump renominates Kavanaugh.

So, an effort to derail Kavanaugh’s nomination, in order to keep the Court from swinging right, seems (barring some seismic event) doomed to failure.

Not just doomed to failure. Consider the longer-term fallout. If the Republicans pick up a couple more Senate sets, and go 53-47, the outliers in the party lose their virtual veto power, giving Trump more room to nominate a more overtly conservative justice. Thus, the Dems might get someone they find even more distasteful than they purportedly find the nice guy Kavanaugh. They’ll also open the door for a Clarence Thomas retirement, since they’ll have totally defanged themselves. And, should Ginsburg (now 85 years old) or Breyer (now 79 years old) suffer some health problem in the next couple years, Trump could throw another rock-solid conservative onto the court (and we’d witness countless liberals throwing themselves off proverbial bridges).

In the wider sense, and with the wipe-out of the filibuster that the Dems started (another checkers-not-chess move that could only be explained by a delusionary belief that they’d keep a majority forever), a more strongly Republican Senate might actually get some stuff done, thus making the back-fire from the already near-futile Kavanaugh resistance even more damaging.

I cannot fathom how, logically, the Democratic leadership could conclude that sacrificing a couple senators to a Quixotic effort to stop Kavanaugh is a smart play. I certainly understand that their reactionary, emotion-driven base demands a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part, and that the Dems may fear that not making that gesture would hurt them in other ways, including possibly on the House side of the mid-term elections. But, satisfying that rabid base is what has gotten them in so much trouble, and cost them so many elections these past 8 years, so if the party wants to make actual inroads towards regaining power, its leaders need to start thinking a couple moves ahead, instead of playing the knee-jerk game that has been their modus operandi since (well before) Trump took office.

To the victor go the spoils. Not only did Trump win the Presidency, the GOP went from a 40-60 super-minority to control of the Senate over the course of a single Presidency. When the Democrats controlled everything, they did as they felt right, and as was their prerogative. Obama placed two Justices on the Court, lest we forget. It’s one of the perks of winning, and if the Dems want to get that perk back for themselves, they should figure out how to win elections, rather than shooting themselves in the feet.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.


Like this post?