Sunday, September 20, 2020

Ibram X. Kendi Describes Push To Replace RBG As A Fascist Power Grab — And It's Hard To Disagree

 WE SHOULD HAVE BEEN allowed time to grieve and reflect upon the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; but alas, we live in abnormal times where, mere hours after her death, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced he would push to vote on replacing her swiftly, as soon as President Donald Trump put forth a nominee to do so.

Trump, less than one day after Ginsburg's departure, announced he would do so sometime within the next week.

So we have little time to grieve and must react to this newest development. 

McConnell's actions are, as many have pointed out, hypocritical: he had blocked a judicial appointment for Barack Obama in 2016 because it was nine months out from an election, arguing that the next president should have a say in who gets to sit on the High Court. 

Presently, we are less than 6 weeks away from Election Day 2020. Some have already cast their ballots for president in early-voting states (with the understanding that the next president was to likely pick Ginsburg's successor). Yet, McConnell and other Republicans have switched course on that rule, arguing that, it doesn't matter if the Senate and the White House are controlled by the same political party.

That, of course, is hogwash. And the American people know it.

A quick poll that was conducted after Ginsburg's death revealed that most Americans don't want a rush to name her successor. Neither does Republican Sen. Susan Collins, who, in a statement on the subject, said that the next president — whether that be Trump or Democrat Joe Biden — should be the one to determine who the next justice on the Supreme Court should be.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski joined Collins on Sunday in saying that "the same standard must apply" with regard to what Republicans did in the recent past. Two other Republicans (and every single Democrat) must join Collins and Murkowski in order to block McConnell's and Trump's plans.

All of this has happened within the course of two days. It's a lot to take in, and devastating to those who held the late justice in such high regard. Ginsburg was, after all, a formidable force on the Supreme Court, one whose opinions and dissent read like poetry, and often moved those who took the time to take them in to action. In rushing to name her successor, we risk putting someone on the court who won't live up to our wanted expectations.

Criticisms of these moves from Republicans and Trump have been numerous, but one that stuck out to me came from author Ibram X. Kendi, who described them in terms I had not yet seen from anyone else. Although not addressing this moment directly, it was clear who Kendi was discussing in his Facebook post:

"Fascist power does not care about consistency, rules, fairness, precedents, truth. Fascist power does not respond to appeals to its hypocrisy, its lies, its unfairness, its human destruction. Fascist power only responds to power. Fascist power only cares about power."

Is it fair to describe the actions of Republicans over this past weekend as fascist? It's a word that I truly hate to use without reason — during the presidency of George W. Bush, though I was appalled by what I was seeing, I did not describe him, in any of my writings, as a "fascist" because I knew the word held great meaning. I did not want to lessen its meaning by using it to describe someone I vehemently disagreed with, but who may not be an actual fascist.

On the other hand, Donald Trump is definitely a fascist, or at least wants to be one. The only thing stopping him is the framework of our government — the judiciary and legislative checks and balances that prevent him from assuming absolute control. 

As many Republicans get more and more sucked into Trumpism, it's fair to state that they, too, are drifting toward support of fascist beliefs. They support a president who has, after all, used xenophobia to promote his political ends, stated that he has absolute power in government, and has argued that he is immune from any prosecutorial judgment of any kind (including, hypothetically, murder). 

Use of the word "fascist" tends to upset people, particularly when you're talking about lawmakers within American government. We don't want to describe anyone in the U.S. as fascist because it means we've had a moral failing somewhere.

But how else can you describe these actions? Kendi is absolutely right: inconsistency and power grabs, lies and unfairness in our institutions, are hallmarks of fascism. To pretend otherwise would be turning a blind eye to an immense problem, one that we must nip in the bud not by ignoring it, but by actively standing in opposition to it instead.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat on the Supreme Court must be chosen by the winner of the 2020 presidential election. It's the only fair action to allow, given how Republicans acted four years ago.

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