The Senate must Refuse to Consider Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee – Otherwise, Democracy in America is Threatened

Donald Trump

In my column of Tuesday, September 22, 2020, I deliberately did not object to consideration of President Trump’s forthcoming nominee for the Supreme Court.  While I reserved the right to object to the nominee, depending on her record and judicial philosophy, I did not protest Trump’s right to have his nominee considered by the Senate.

In taking this position, I intentionally made no mention of the Mitch McConnell/Merrick Garland controversy.  Both political parties have been equally abusive and hypocritical in the Senate judicial confirmation process.  I served in the administration of George W. Bush, and I remember all too well how Democratic Senators arbitrarily and capriciously blocked consideration of the federal appellate court judicial nominations of Bush 43.

Yesterday, however, two events occurred that have totally changed the context of the selection of the successor to the late Justice Ruth Ginsburg.  These two events make it irrefutably and abundantly clear that Donald Trump is attempting to prevent a fair and free presidential election from taking place on November 3 and that he is using his forthcoming Supreme Court nomination to accomplish this goal.

The first was Trump’s unequivocal statement at his press conference that he is refusing to consent to a peaceful transfer of power at the end of his term.  He emphasized that he would not recognize as legitimate an election where the voters have a right to vote by mail.  A primary purpose of enactment of vote by mail procedures this year (VBM) was to enable African-Americans, disproportionately victimized by the Coronavirus and lack of convenient access to polling places, to vote in this election.

Trump wants to disenfranchise African-Americans to the maximum extent possible.  He knows that he cannot win an election where Black Americans may freely cast their ballots.

And most egregiously, Trump flat out stated that he demands and expects his Supreme Court nominee to vote to invalidate the presidential election in states where VBM is authorized, thereby ratifying his attempt to disenfranchise Black America.

How can any US Senator with any adherence to democracy vote for any Trump nominee, regardless of her qualifications, under these circumstances?

The Trump authoritarian efforts to refuse to leave office at the end of his term and peacefully transfer power constitutes an act of fascism. The Trump attempt to perpetuate himself in office beyond his lawful term and defy the wishes of the people constitutes an act of fascism.  The Trump racist attempt to disenfranchise. African-Americans constitutes an act of fascism.  Racism is an integral component of fascism.

And yesterday at his press conference, Donald Trump directly communicated to his prospective Supreme Court nominee, whoever she may be, that he demands and expects that she participates as his partner in these anti-democratic, fascistic acts.  How can the Senate consider the confirmation of any Trump nominee under these circumstances?

Yet the second event of yesterday, the publication of the article by Barton Gellman in Atlantic magazine entitled “The Election That Could Break America,” was even more frightening.  The article discusses contingency plans by Republican allies of the president to claim fraud in states where the vote count shows Biden in the lead and ask GOP state legislators to set aside the popular vote and exercise their power to choose a slate of Trump-committed electors directly.  This is a direct fascistic attempt to deprive the voters of democracy in Democratic presidential voting states and establish Republican legislatures as mini-fascistic Reichstags.

Again, Donald Trump will expect his Supreme Court nominee to be his partner in these attempts to destroy American democracy.

No, although it is beyond doubt that Donald Trump is a fascist, I will not compare him with Adolf Hitler.  One out of every four members of my extended paternal family was murdered in Hitler’s Holocaust.  Donald Trump is not promoting genocide.  He is, however, capable of setting Reichstag fires.

Yet I will compare Trump with the non-genocidal prototype Italian Fascist Benito Mussolini.  Trump’s Blackshirts are the Jim Jordans and the Sean Hannitys.

And like Mussolini, Trump in his second term will have at the top of his agenda the essential Fascistic goal of suppression of freedom of the press.  He gave it away when he publicly rejoiced in the fact that journalist Ali Velshi of MSNBC was struck in the leg with a rubber bullet while covering the demonstrations in Minneapolis after the police murder of George Floyd.

In a second Trump term, I fully expect that Trump journalistic critics like me will be placed in internment camps.  And I say that without being paranoiac.

Last night, I literally could not sleep as I pondered the perilous state of American democracy under Donald Trump.  I did remember a time when courageous Republicans rose in protest against former President Richard Nixon’s attempts to subvert the Constitution for his own benefit.

I speak of the Saturday Night Massacre, October 20, 1973, when Nixon fired Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox.  Two Republicans of outstanding competence and character, Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General Bill Ruckelshaus resigned in protest, rather than carry out Nixon’s order to fire Cox.  A fair number of Republican Senators and Representatives rose in defense of Richardson and Ruckelshaus.

Today, you will search in vain in the GOP for a Richardson or Ruckelshaus.  You will hear very few Republicans of prominence protest Trump’s fascistic actions.  With the exception of Mitt Romney, the Republicans in the United States Senate constitute a cowardly college of pusillanimous poltroons.

The Republican Party I revered was once a great party of patriotism, democracy, economic opportunity, and condemnation of racism, symbolized by great presidents like Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan and outstanding governors of New Jersey like Tom Kean.

Today, America’s Republican Party is a vast Jonestown wasteland, with Donald Trump as Jim Jones and Trump Kool-Aid drinkers like US Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Josh Hawley of Missouri, eager to inherit the Trumpist tribal throne.

At best, today’s Republican Party is, to paraphrase Brian Klaas of the Washington Post, a party of authoritarian populism.  At worst, it is an American Falange, a party of isolationist ultra-nationalism, hierarchical discrimination, and aggressive authoritarianism, but without the Falangist doctrine of establishment of a state religion.

Now, at this season of the Jewish High Holidays, I would like to apply the teachings of the Torah to my agony of my final years in the Republican Party, ending in 2018.

My Bar Mitzvah portion of the Torah, back on November 17, 1962 was Vayeirah, from the book of Breishit (Genesis).  The portion describes Abraham and his efforts to save the city of Sodom from the wrath of HaShem (the Almighty) by vainly searching for ten righteous men.

Like Abraham, I searched for ten righteous Republicans in the United States Congress, House and Senate during the Trump years.  I could not find them.

Yet today, long after I made the decision to leave the Trumpist GOP, I found a righteous Republican, Congressman Steve Stivers of Ohio.  He served with valor as an Army Battalion Commander in Operation Iraqi Freedom, winning a Bronze Star.

Read the words of Steve Stivers from his Tweets this morning, issued in reaction to Trump’s fascistic actions of yesterday:

Nothing defines our Constitutional Republic more than the peaceful transition of power. I’ve taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution, and I will uphold that oath.

Regardless of how divided our country is right now, when elections are over and winners are declared, we must all commit ourselves to the Constitution and accept the results.

God bless Steve Stivers. And God save America.

Alan J. Steinberg served as regional administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush and as executive director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission.

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  • Hancock212

    As I have said previously, I don’t bother to read Alan’s stilted, ignorant rants. The headline demonstrates how his Trump Derangement Disorder is worsening. Democracy is only threatened when our elected officials attempt to deviate from the Constitution – not when they follow it. I find it amazing that Monmouth U hired someone who apparently has never read the Constitution, or if he did, does not understand it. What Trump and McConnell are doing is perfectly legal and constitutional. Get over it Snowflake. Why didn’t you criticize Pelosi for her blatantly racist “arrows in our quiver” comment. Typical liberal hypocrite. You are proof that academia will lead to the destruction of our nation.

  • Kathleen Demarest

    As always, Alan Steinberg, I am impressed with the depth of your knowledge.
    I, too, share your deep concern for our beloved nation and read your column
    with dismay.
    Why do these Republican Senators enable and support a president with no character, no morals, and no true vision for America? I will never understand this.
    Are they that timid? I have no answers.

    Thank you, Alan Steinberg, I, for one, appreciate your courage, your wisdom,
    and your insight. I do not take your effort and hard work for granted.
    Please continue to keep InsiderNJ readers informed and truly aware of vitally important political news.

    • Hancock212

      Thank you for proving Forrest Gump’s mother correct!

      • Kathleen Demarest

        Thank you……I take this as a compliment.

  • Bruce Todd

    It is the absolute duty for not just the President, but every citizen to support that every legitimate vote be counted, and any and all cases of fraud in the electoral process be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Recent events in Patterson, the New York Congressional Primary election, events in California, as well as the discovery of discarded Trump votes in Pennsylvania make that abundantly clear. I dispute the steps taken in a number of states, including New Jersey that allow only for Vote By Mail, except for the handicapped. The introduction of a bill in Congress by Representatives Tulsi Gabbard (D.-Hi) and Rodney Davis (R.-illinois) to not allow “ballot harvesting”, makes clear that some lawmakers take that sacred task of voting seriously. If citizens can shop, if their children can attend school, if athletes can play sports, all with increased health measures added in, then the same health measures employed there, can certainly be added in to allow for the most secure method for the American People be assured that their sacred ballot be counted, the voting booth. For those that do not feel comfortable in that setting, then the tried and true method of the absentee ballot is the next best secure method. Having failed to move in that direction, the variables now adopted have now placed the ability to have a rock-solid answer to the actual legal vote count far past the November 3rd date. Again, no President, whether it be this President nor any President can allow this Presidential election, or any election, to pass without making sure that that election has the ring of truth in it.

    • Kathleen Demarest

      I read your comment with interest and respect.
      With my deep lack of trust in our present president, I am concerned that the election will not have “ the ring of truth in it..”

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  • Bruce Todd

    Don’t forget about the real “Ukrainian Phone Call” that no one in Congress wanted to bring up, you know, the one about Biden’s role in helping to pull off the 2014 Ukrainian Coup.

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