America is the greatest republic on the face of the earth.
Respected around the globe, America is known to millions as the foundation of freedom, the cornerstone of opportunity and the pinnacle of success. As Americans, we are faced with some great challenges as we begin this new decade.
Whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, Independent or Libertarian, Socialist Action, Free-Soil Party, Liberal, Conservative, Stalwart, Radical, Progressive or any other countless classification of factions, you will not be able to escape the constant barrage of political ads and campaign calls that will soon descend on us from the belly of our great capitol.
There will be Facebook posts, billboard signs, radio ads, Instagram trolls, newspaper articles, magazine spreads, Twitter reels, who knows what else. It will be inescapable. The presidential election is upon us and in 10 months the people of this great country will go to the polls and cast their vote of confidence for the next leader of the Free World.
This is a great challenge and a great burden of responsibility. In no time in our history has it been more important that the people’s voice be heard than it is right now.
Regardless of how you vote, a more educated historian could argue this upcoming 2020 election could be the most important election of the last 100 years, possibly of our country’s history. I will try not to make such an outlandish claim without some form of historical context.
It’s often easy to get entangled in the dynamics of our long and complex political past and not have the proper scope with which to view our political future. However, allow me to point out a key factor that I hope will stay with you as you consider casting your vote of confidence this coming November.
Theodore Roosevelt once stated, “The president and the Congress are all very well in their way. They can say what they think they think, but it rests with the Supreme Court to decide what they have really thought.”
The president was being a bit facetious when he said that, however it is true in a sense. Our Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, is going to be a major talking point in our upcoming election, and rightfully so. Currently our Supreme Court is made up of nine justices, nominated by sitting presidents and confirmed by the US Senate.
These positions don’t open up often, since they are lifetime appointments, and when they do the major political parties often take the gloves off in a fight to fill that position.
Evidence of this was plain to see just recently with the untimely passing of Justice Antonin Scalia and the nomination and confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
The reason this becomes so important to the 2020 election is because of the current age and declining health conditions of a few members of the Supreme Court. Currently the court has two sitting justices that were born in the 1930s, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer are 87 and 82 years old respectively.
Both Ginsburg and Breyer were appointed by President Bill Clinton during his time in office and both have historically ruled with their more Liberal counterparts.
Now, I am not trying to be morbid here, but the chances are 100% that none of us are getting out of this life alive. Eighty years is a long time and it’s possible both Ginsburg and Breyer outlive the entirety of the next presidential term.
However, if one or both do not, that opens a door for the next sitting president to nominate a justice of his or her choosing based on their ideological preferences. The potential for the next sitting president to nominate not one, but two Supreme Court Justices is historic in itself, but not unheard of.
However, unlike any other time in history, the nomination of two supreme court justices that follow roughly the same ideological principles could sway the Supreme Court in such a way that it could change the course of US policy for generations to come.
Past Supreme Court decisions that have shaped our society and set president for public policy could be challenged and potentially overturned; Roe vs. Wade or Buckley vs. Valeo for example.
Newer societal and cultural issues that have been championed by one political party or the other could instantly be put forth through the courts and have a fast track to becoming the law of the land; Universal Healthcare or ‘Medicare for All’ as another example. Constitutional rights are also a hot button topic of debate in the upcoming elections, questions such as: What is the place of guns in American society?
Unlike other changes in various branches of government, the decisions of the Supreme Court affect each and every one of us. We, as a society, have entrusted these nine individuals to interpret the constitution and make decisions based off those interpretations.
These decisions are the parameters we as a country, a state, a county and a community have agreed to live by. Hugo Black said it best with, “No higher duty, or more solemn responsibility rests upon the Court than that of translating into living law and maintaining its constitutional shield … for the benefit of every American being subject to the Constitution of the United States, of whatever race, creed, or religion.”
There are many different issues that dominate our political landscape today and it would take a much longer article to dive much deeper. However, the point of this article is to encourage each of you to exercise your constitutional right, get out and vote your convictions.
Know your candidate and know your political opposition. Most of us in this community, regardless of your party preference, believe deeply in the Constitution of the United States and the fundamental principles our founding fathers stood for, and as Americans it is our responsibility to uphold those principles for the next generation.
As always, I am honored to serve as your mayor. Thank you and God Bless.