At the end of an often tedious debate filled with canned responses tweaked, parsed and refined from the previous tedious debates, the Democratic candidates for President were asked how they would choose a Supreme Court Justice. The question came from an undecided Nevada Democrat, and CNN's Suzanne Malveaux added her own addendum, "would you insist nominees support abortion rights?"
Each candidate affirmed in some way they would pick justices that would be fair, understand the experience of the everyday American, protect the marginalized and support the right to privacy enshrined in the United States Constitution.
At that point, right before the all important "diamonds or pearls" question, I threw a pillow at the TV screaming, "WHEN ARE YOU ROBOTS GOING TO WAKE UP?"
I'm thrilled that each candidate can offer a canned response reassuring voters what they already know, but I'm wondering when the candidates might move beyond the stump speech and help Americans understand what is really at stake with respect to the U.S. Supreme Court.
One thing is certain, those opposed to rights Americans currently enjoy understand what's at stake and they rally their base and campaign on it every where they go: "one, two, three more justices" is the Social-Con mantra.
But the Democrats can't seem to break out of their programmed responses long enough to fire up their base, or educate independent voters on what really is at stake. Instead, like a quarter in a juke box they hear Supreme Court in the question and think "R-73 … play pro-choice privacy response."
Oh how I long for a candidate with a pulse to say:
Yes, I support the right to privacy that exists in the Constitution, but that's almost beside the point. Privacy and many other rights are being systematically undermined by a vocal minority determined to change the direction of this country by imposing their narrow values on all of us using the Supreme Court. We already see how the balance shifted with the change from O'Connor to Alito.
The Supreme Court is not a Democratic or Republican issue, it is an American issue. Nothing less than our democracy is at stake.
Opponents of abortion have so politicized the Court that our very system of justice is threatened. They have so distorted the reality of this issue that the one branch of our government that is supposed to be the least partisan, or preferably non-partisan, is becoming more and more politicized.
Every American should be appalled at the overt use of the judiciary as a political tool by Social-Conservatives and the way they will sacrifice values and principles to ensure that they have the power to change laws they cannot affect legislatively because they do not have popular support.
The Supreme Court is not a political football. We should not nominate justices based on any one issue, but instead on the ability for the justice to do his or her best to continue making sure the Constitution is preserved, prtotected and defended, and remains relevant for the time in which we live, as its authors intended.
This is what is important about the Supreme Court and every American must wake up to the fact that if Social-Conservatives have their way, they make it very clear what they intend to do. The choice we fight for is not just about a woman's right to determine what is best for her health and her family, as important and self-evident as that should be, the choice now is, are we going to jeopardize the foundational principles of this nation: freedom of speech, freedom to worship as one chooses, and a right to privacy among others?
Or are we as Americans going to stand together as the majority we are and say enough is enough! The Supreme Court is not for sale and we will no longer allow it to be held hostage by a tyrannical minority trying to impose its narrow values on our blessed pluralistic democracy.
Maybe one day the horse race and gotcha politics will give way and some candidate will shed their robotic responses, getting to the heart of what really matters, not just trying to placate special interests.
When they do, it might just wake up the half of America that has tuned out of politics.