While we should denounce the vultures and those donning the grim reaper costume, we should be just as concerned by those who are willing to partake in some cosmic day extension ritual or those who would throw themselves in a morgue if it meant a whole new body of organs for the aging Justice.
The obsession with one person is antithetical to our republican form of government. I think we can safely conclude that these types of obsessions come from two sources. The first is the politician’s or individual’s own sense of self-importance. The second is the devoted follower’s affirmation of that importance.
In Federalist 39, James Madison argues that the new government was not republican because it had some structure and division of powers, but because ultimately, the people rule. “If we resort for a criterion to the different principles on which different forms of government are established, we may define a republic to be, or at least may bestow that name on, a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people, and is administered by persons holding their offices during pleasure, for a limited period, or during good behavior. It is ESSENTIAL to such a government that it be derived from the great body of the society, not from an inconsiderable proportion, or a favored class of it; otherwise a handful of tyrannical nobles, exercising their oppressions by a delegation of their powers, might aspire to the rank of republicans, and claim for their government the honorable title of republic. It is SUFFICIENT for such a government that the persons administering it be appointed, either directly or indirectly, by the people; and that they hold their appointments by either of the tenures just specified; otherwise every government in the United States, as well as every other popular government that has been or can be well organized or well executed, would be degraded from the republican character… Could any further proof be required of the republican complexion of this system, the most decisive one might be found in its absolute prohibition of titles of nobility, both under the federal and the State governments; and in its express guaranty of the republican form to each of the latter.”
Elected representatives are agents, they are the tools that the people use to carry out their will. Each representative has no inherent worth or authority outside that which has been bestowed upon him by the people.
Yet the idea of politicians’ own self-importance is not without merit. They forget that they are expendable. One of the greatest examples of political self-importance and arrogance is the creation of a congressional bunker during the Cold War. Project Greek Island was the code name given to the legislative branch’s attempt at self preservation at the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia. Obviously, there are arguments for continuity of government, but the idea that the source of political power (the people) can suffer a nuclear holocaust, as long as the government survives, is truly appalling. Representatives can be replaced. The people can elect new ones. The only consideration should be to preserve the commander-in-chief during wartime.
But it doesn’t end there. While we saw a case of institutional self-importance illustrated above, we see it on a personal level, where the followers really latch on to the cult of personality. This past fall, two 85 year olds were bickering over documents and beer. In 2017 a senator in his 80’s decided to keep serving despite a diagnosis of brain cancer. Dozens, if not hundreds, of other individuals have decided to “serve” in congress well into their 80s, with one senator reaching 100. Because incumbents are hard to beat and because voters forget where the power lies, we end up with politicians who no longer see themselves as mere tools to carry out the will of the voters and instead see voters as tools to preserve their own personal power. Take John McCain. His job was to represent the State of Arizona. As soon as it became apparent that he could not effectively represent the state, he should have resigned. Instead, he held on. The office isn’t about him. It’s about the state.
And so we come to the curious case of Justice Ginsburg. One, I am not opposed to the elderly serving our nation in elected or appointed positions. I like Justice Breyer, he seems to be doing fine. I think Dianne Feinstein seemed more “with it” than Chuck Grassley. And Orrin Hatch seemed more “with it” than both of them. I am not opposed to people serving who get injured or get sick, I am not saying that anyone whose health is in jeopardy must resign immediately. Justice Sotomayor injured herself not too long ago. But it is no secret that at some point, age, failing health, gravity, quantum mechanics, dark matter, and the universe’s eventual heat death will take its toll on everyone.
The one who respects the nation’s true source of power, the people, will see themselves as a dispensable cog in the grand machine. It’s common practice for Justices to retire during the tenure of a president who shares the political party of the president who appointed them. While Justice Ginsburg has remarked that she wants to make it until 90 on the court, I think she should have retired while Obama was president. Breyer could have considered it as well. Why? Because retiring would affirm that their personal goals of professional longevity have no meaning in our republican form of government. Ginsburg isn’t the queen of America. She doesn’t have to hold on to her job out of tradition or some expectation by her subjects. Queen Elizabeth is 92 years old. She is beloved in the United Kingdom. But we don’t have a monarchy. Justice Ginsburg is supposed to be a dispassionate judge in a black robe, relegated to the boring work of lawyers. To those on the left, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an icon, an idol. Michael Moore had her adorning the top of his Christmas tree.
As The Hill reports that she will miss her second day of arguments to recover, the left is in panic mode. They have elevated the importance of both the court and its members to a place it was never meant to be. It is becoming apparent that the obsession with Ginsburg is more about her place in the political sphere than genuine concern for her well-being.
The Hill says this, “Ginsburg, 85, is known for her stamina, having already survived two bouts of cancer prior to this most recent diagnosis — colon cancer in 1999 and pancreatic cancer in 2009. Her recent health scare has liberals fearing their legal hero, affectionately dubbed the “Notorious RBG,” may not be able to serve the five years she said she had left in her last July. “Please take care of yourself RBG, we need you,” the Progressives of Kane County, Ill., tweeted Monday. If Ginsburg is forced to step down from the court, President Trump will have the opportunity to nominate a third justice, likely cementing the court’s conservative majority and pushing its ideological balance even farther to the right for generations to come.”
I doubt that Ginsburg sees herself as the only hope of the resistance. I suspect she is more concerned about professional longevity than making herself into a political warrior. Regardless of the motivation, any reason to hold on to an office, absent one’s ability to fulfill their duties 100%, reeks of self-importance. That fuels the sycophants.
You should hope for Justice Ginsburg’s recovery and continued health because it’s rude to wish harm upon people. It’s also rude to place all your hope in the well-being of your political idol.
All the political idols are just cogs.