The 180-degree reversal of Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina to fill a vacancy on the US Supreme Court in an election year, although breathtakingly hypocritical, is not politically relevant.
The question before us is: Will Democrats in Congress fight hard enough to prevent President Trump from ramming through a nominee onto the Court who will tip the balance of power for more than a generation?
Make no mistake, with a 6-3 conservative Supreme Court, the far right will have free rein to bypass the will of the people and use the courts to dismantle the rights and protections many Americans hold dear. They will be able to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, which will cause 22 million Americans to lose their health insurance. A woman’s right to choose, LGBTQ protections, civil rights and voting rights would all face extinction.
In just four years, this president, who was impeached for abuse of power and obstruction of justice, has taken a wrecking ball to the US Constitution and the rule of law. Our democracy and 244 years of self-rule are hanging by a thread.
Democrats in Congress must take the gloves off. They must no longer whisper threats about eliminating the filibuster to increase seats on the Supreme Court and the federal bench. They must promise to do it. A clear message must be sent to Republicans who have been accomplices to the crimes of this president: Democrats will play hardball.
Republicans must know, in no uncertain terms, what will happen when Democrats win the White House and take control of the Senate in just a few short weeks. Not only will there be additional seats on the Court, there will be a Green New Deal. There will be affordable health care for everyone. There will be the restoration and expansion of the Voting Rights Act. There will be new gun safety laws. There will be immigration reform with protection for Dreamers. There will be comprehensive criminal justice and police reforms. And there will be a national plan and international cooperation to address the deadly coronavirus pandemic that has unnecessarily killed over 200,000 people in America alone.
Trump lost the popular vote in 2016, and Senate Republicans represent 15 million fewer Americans than Senate Democrats.
We are at an existential crossroads. In order to restore democratic principles, the majority must start to rule.
Rob Reiner is an actor and filmmaker.