Borrok: With politics, it’s how you play the game

Ben Borrok, Opinion Editor

Politics is a lot like a card game. Granted, the stakes are wildly different; a card game is often played for pride or a small cash prize, but with politics, the risks involve the livelihoods and rights of millions of Americans. At their very core, however, the two have striking similarities: the need to strategize, to outsmart opponents, and to play your best hand.

Take UNO for example. The goal of this game is to get rid of all of your cards while your opponents are stuck holding their own. This requires some luck but also strategy, as the card you choose to play can have a negative effect on others. It is great to hold cards like Draw Two or Draw Four, as they push your opponent further from the goal of shedding their hand. However, holding these cards for too long can cause them to become a burden.

The reason I bring this up is due to the Supreme Court vacancy after the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg this past week. As when any Supreme Court Justice dies, there is a need to replace the vacancy to maintain the strength of a full 9-person court. This decision regarding who to nominate and who to confirm also serves as a potential political advantage for decades, as Justices serve for life. With Republicans holding the Presidency and the Senate, a conservative nomination can aid in legal decision making for years to come, even if Democrats take control in future elections.

The controversy in the nomination process dates back to the vacancy that opened after the death of Antonin Scalia in 2016. With control of the Senate, Republicans stated they would not vote to confirm President Obama’s pick for the bench, Merrick Garland.

At the time of Scalia’s death, Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader, stated: “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.” After Trump was elected, the Senate went on to confirm his nomination of Neil Gorsuch.

Now, with another vacancy in an election year, McConnell and the Republicans have changed course, instead deciding to bring a nomination to a vote before November 3rd. This has angered Democrats, who see this as hypocritical and opportunistic. To be clear, this is a pretty cut and dry example of hypocrisy, but it is hard to be surprised. See, Republicans, for all of the ghastly and immoral things they do, still play the game correctly. Their goal is to push the country right and make good on the policy they present to their voters. When they see an opportunity to play a Draw Four, they are sure to do so, while Democrats complain.

The Supreme Court is a microcosm of the issue that the Democrats face today: they refuse to play the cards in their hand and are running out of time. They have the potential to corner the young vote for a generation, but opt to lure older, centrist Republicans to vote for Biden instead. Issues such as racial justice, climate change, and healthcare are watered down to appeal to a group that isn’t the slightest bit interested in the Democrats. While the right side of the American political spectrum plays to win, the left seeks to compromise. Even in their wildest dreams, Democrats still don’t get the entirety of what they want.

Rather than lamenting the callousness of the Republicans, mirror them for the good of the American people. Start acting for the majority of your party regarding healthcare, climate change, and the economy by pushing for legislation with full strength, rather than preparing for a settlement. Sure, a Republican majority on the Supreme Court is a setback – it is like being on the receiving end of multiple Draw Fours – but it shouldn’t spell the end of the Democrats’ political aspirations. The game isn’t over until someone has played all their cards, so find strength in being the underdog and go as hard as you can for your own constituents. Strategize and remain steadfast in these commitments. It’s how you play the game.

Ben Borrok is a School of Communication junior. He can be contacted at [email protected]u. If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.