I give to Democratic candidates and office-holders at a level that gets me invites to things like a small group lunch with Washington’s Senator Patty Murray. These events are tightly scripted and last no more than 45 minutes to an hour — the Senator’s staff keeps her on schedule — but there are opportunities to ask a question and hear the Senator respond.
We covered much ground, and I came away with a lot of feelings — sobering ones. Things really are as bad in Washington D.C. as we fear. Totally aside from Trump’s pot-stirring tweets, his lies and demonization of huge swathes of the country, his cabinet appointees like Betsy deVos, Ben Carson, and Jeff Sessions are radically reshaping the missions of the departments they lead. Mitch McConnells’ singular focus is stacking the federal judiciary with as many Federalist Society approved hard right judges as he can. Senator Murray said that for all of her time in the Senate, she and her counterpart in the Senate from Washington — early on, Republican Slade Gordon and more recently, Democrat Maria Cantwell — the two Senators agreed on a bipartisan commission that would recommend exceptionally qualified judges from a variety of perspectives. The two Senators would work together to have those judges elevated to the federal bench. The Trump administration has thrown all of that out, and Senators are simply told who is coming to fill openings in their state — all deeply conservative judges, mostly white men, schooled and supported by Koch-funded Federalist Society money. Damage to the credibility of the court system is one of the most destructive elements of the nearly two years that Trump has been in office. With a Democratic Senate takeover unlikely, the damage to our justice system will continue unabated.
As Justice Kagan recently said, the viability of the court system rests on all of us accepting that the process is fair, and agreeing to abide by legal rulings whether or not we agree with them. Once the majority begins to feel that the process is rigged, that key institution in our democracy falls apart.
Trump voters are not the majority.
Patty Murray said she honestly believes our country is better than what we’ve been since Trump burst upon the national scene. The November election will tell the tale.