Could the nomination of Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court prove to be the straw that breaks the elephant's back, resulting in a seismic shift in this country away from the radical right and the corporate power brokers? If so, it will prove to be a very painful break and may come too late.
Unlike Harriet Miers (essentially George Bush in drag), Alito's positions are documentable and public. His positions against Roe v Wade, his toleration of racial discrimination and disabilities discrimination, his opposition to the Family and Medical Leave Act, his support for unauthorized strip searches, and his antipathy toward immigrants -- all weigh in against the Senate approving his nomination.
If the Senate Democrats filibuster (and they should), the Republicans will use the so-called nuclear option and rule that filibustering is no longer allowed. Why? Because I believe they are like cornered rats and they will behave that way. Rather than being humbled and contrite about all their setbacks (Iraq, Katrina, Social Security, Guantanamo, Libby), they will stand up on their little hindlegs and gnash their teeth at reality. Have you seen Cheney's & Delay's toothy sneers lately?
In addition, they are hell-bent (and I do mean hell-bent) on packing the Supreme Court in an attempt to overturn all the liberal legislation they regard as anathema to their corporate and religious interests. The little list above of Alito's rulings is only the tip of the iceberg.
George Bush will likely get his way with the Supreme Court. He may go down in history as the worst President ever when it comes to helping the poor and the disadvantaged. He may be remembered as the President who lied his way into an invasion of Iraq resulting in thousands of Americans killed and maimed. He may be the laughingstock of American history because he could not protect the "homeland" from the horrific effects of hurricane Katrina. He may be remembered as the most inarticulate, incompetent President in US history. Nevertheless, despite all these failures, he does want to be remembered for changing the course of American jurisprudence and taking back America for those people he sees as his base and for those ideas and ideals he espouses. It may be his last shot.
So what can the Democrats do? Either way, I believe Alito will be on the Supreme Court by January 2006. It may be that the Democrats take back the Senate in 2006, although it's probably 50-50 right now (even with all that Senate Republicans have going against them.) But it may be that all the GOP shenanigans are enough to give the Democrats a slim majority. Of course, if that happens, the Democrats will use the Republicam precedent of eliminating the filibuster against the Republicans every chance they get. The gloves will be off.
And yet, Democratic electoral successes in 2006, or even 2008, will not be enough to reverse the effects of a Supreme Court doing Bush's ideological bidding, nor will those successes be capable of immediately reversing the damage done by his lower court appointments. The evolution of a new force in American politics will need to take hold to begin to reverse the damage done by George Bush's Supreme Court legacy. And this does not even address the need to confront the ugly gorilla in the living room -- corporate dominance of our social, civil, political and economic lives. And that pretty much sums up the heart of what is possibly the insurmountable problem we face - an America controlled by corporate power with a Supreme Court working on its behalf.
The first item on the agenda for Democrats is to topple the corporate leadership of the party. The Party must push the corporations back with stiff hand and say no. Corporate money has been shifting largely to the Republicans anyway, so let's just make it absolutely and finally obvious to the American people. The Republican Party is corporate power. The Democratic Party is not. The Democratic Party with its grassroots democratic base must make it clear that corporations do not have the same rights as individual American citizens. If we don't, democracy loses, corporations win. It's that simple. Unless the Democratic Party makes the case that money is NOT free speech, and that corporations exist at the pleasure of our democratic institutions, Americans will lose the last vestiges of our democracy. For decades now, American governments, Republican and Democratic alike, have welcomed the corporate brokers into the inner sanctum of power, and have sold this country's democracy to an untouchable, unaccountable elite that cares little for the rule of law or the American democracy from which it has derived so much wealth.
Because I fear Americans are going to lose their ability to limit corporate power and abuse through the courts, and especially through the Supreme Court, we must organize to limit that power in the other two branches of government, and to stand up for freedom and democracy. The only organizational vehicle I see through which we can reverse the plutocracy is the Democratic Party. Let's get to work.