Ruth Bader Ginsburg, may her memory forever be for a blessing and may we never forget what she did for us women, has barely been gone 24 hours. News outlets are abuzz with speculation regarding her replacement. The word “replacement” for a tiny woman of such enormous stature – is achingly inadequate. Thanks to Ginsburg, the Supreme Court ended legalized gender discrimination in a landmark case, utilizing the Equal Protection clause to strike down a law that discriminated based on sex.
My rational self feared that the notorious RBG would pass before the election and installation of our new President, but that hope relied on two big ifs: the declining health of the Honorable Ginsburg, and the outcome of an election, which I fear will be highly contested. On Rosh Hashana we ask, “Who shall live, and who shall die?” It feels like a cruel reality, but apparently passing on the Eve of Rosh Hashana is reserved for the most righteous among us.
Still, there is a procedural political process that must take place, as well as laws and a constitution, in case anyone has forgotten. My friend invited me to join a Facebook group that boasted 40,000 followers within hours. The purpose of the group is to “organize now before that ‘orange menace’ begins the nomination process.” But I’m not ready. I need a minute to process. Forgive me for not having the foresight to not only lead a bandwagon, but to also recklessly jump on board.
I am no fan of our current president and administration. I am deeply offended on a moral and ethical level by the lies and mishandling of our country, but most of all by the name-calling and bullying. So, no. You won’t find me referring to him as orange or by any other below-the-belt moniker. I can’t unsee the video of him making fun of a disabled reporter a few years ago, and cringe when I imagine the word he may have used. So, no. I will not stoop to that level.
When RBG proclaimed, “I dissent,” it was as though she was speaking for me. I admired her not only because I shared her views, but also for her brilliant legal mind and foresight in making this world a better place for women and humanity. Civility seems to have taken leave of our social discourse. News shows are increasingly antagonistic and people attack one another, instead of the issues. Friends are divided along political lines and relationships are suffering. Have we forgotten that while preaching to our choir is comfortable and safe, it is not the most challenging of interactions? It also serves as a stumbling block to stepping into someone else’s shoes and invoking the kind of empathy that is sorely lacking today.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia sat on opposite sides of the bench, yet their deep and true friendship flourished for years. RBG spoke of her friendship with Scalia with fondness and love, and noted their ability to agree to disagree.
I fear for our country should our President decide to nominate a candidate before the election or the end of his term. In March 2016, Mitch McConnell said, “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”
Let that sink in.
As an independent, I am lonely these days. I don’t have a bandwagon to jump on it. I cannot tolerate our President’s despicable behavior, but I cannot condone the left’s name calling. Does he deserve it? Sure. Should we stoop to that level? Hell, no. My parents harped on us acting respectfully and living up to our own standards regardless of the behavior of others, or else we’d have them to answer to. In law school I was taught to attack the argument, not the person.
I often think of an amazing woman I worked with more than 20 years ago as a young lawyer in New York City. We were both pregnant with our first babies and I shared that I’d be missing work for a scheduled amniocenteses test. She chose to not have the test, as the results would have made no difference to her continuing the pregnancy. While I am not sure what I would’ve done with adverse results and luckily I did not have that decision to make, these circumstances raised the topic of abortion. We, a staunch Catholic Republican and a Democratic Jew, were able to maintain a close and valued friendship despite our different backgrounds and vastly divergent political views.
All viewpoints are valuable; all animosity and vitriol are not. So I won’t be jumping on any bandwagons that even begin to hint at name-calling and cheap shots. We are all better than that. In honor of RBG’s blessed memory, let’s take a moment to grieve, and yes, like she said, “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you”