By Dan Gougherty
the 1984 Presidential election, I was asked by a co-worker
who I was going to vote for. When I nonchalantly said Walter
Mondale, my co-worker, a self-described pro-choice moderate,
had a deer-in-the-headlights reaction. "How could you vote
for Mondale? He's promised to raise our income taxes," she
said. "You don't want to pay more taxes, do you?" she asked
in a patronizing manner.
"Of course I don't want to pay more taxes than necessary,"
I said. Then in a burst of wisdom that I still can't believe
I possessed as a twenty six year old, I noted that while taxes
rates fluctuate like hemlines over time, judicial appointments
are like halitosis. Once you have it, no matter how much you
try to cover it up, it's always there. I said a vote for Reagan
was a vote for a conservative Federal judicial system and
Supreme Court. My pro-choice co-worker stared at me for a
minute before leaving in a huff.
Of course my co-worker didn't listen to my irrefutable logic,
nor did anyone else for that matter. Reagan won in a landslide
and quickly appointed Antonin Scalia, one of the most reactionary
Supreme Court jurists our country has ever seen. Since that
point we have suffered through a severe case of what I like
to call "judicial halitosis." And just like the
drunk with bad breath next to you on the bus, you're stuck
until one of you, hopefully the drunk, gets off the bus.
For most voters, the issue of judicial appointments doesn't
even register on the radar. Of all the duties bestowed on
the President, this perhaps has the longest lasting impact
on everyday lives. While we have been fortunate that Bush
has not been able to make any Supreme Court appointments,
if elected to another term we already know his prototype for
a Supreme Court Justice. Think Scalia, Clarence Thomas or
worse, Charles Pickering.
While I shudder at the thought of up to three hard core
right-wing ideologues being appointed in a second Bush term,
there is something scarier. Given the current Republican stranglehold,
another term for Bush would mean a Supreme Court packed with
a strong majority of conservative justices beholden to neo-cons.
If this happens, our country runs the real risk of becoming
a one-party system.
Or as a scheming Karl Rove is saying right now, "Two down,
one to go."
If you are outraged by the audacity displayed by Republican
House Majority Leader Tom Delay's gerrymandering of Texas
congressional districts, hold on to your hat. With a lap dog
judicial system packed with right-wing ideologues, the neo-cons
will undoubtedly run roughshod over the Democrats for years
to come by simply redistricting them out of existence. And
guess what - with a Federal Judicial system packed with like
minded people from Pickering on up to Scalia, Thomas et. al.,
good luck winning any court battle.
If you don't think that sort of bias happens in our judicial
system, have you already forgotten Gore v. Bush? Still not
convinced? How about all those fine dinners and hunting trips
recently lavished on Justice Scalia by his good friends Cheney
and Rumsfeld. You don't really think they were talking about
duck blinds, do you?
Don't make the mistake of being hoodwinked with the lower
taxes argument. It is just a facade for the neo-cons ultimate
goal of marginalizing and squashing dissent and turning our
democracy into a one-party system. So when you belly up to
the ballot box come November 2, remember not only are you
voting for the next four years, you're casting a vote that
will have consequences for years to come. Vote for freedom,
vote for social justice, vote for a two party system and most
importantly, vote Democrat.
Maybe then, we will have found a cure for the stinking breath
of judicial halitosis.