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I actually wrote this cartoon months ago, during the Democratic primary, out of frustration that so many Democratic Senators refuse to consider steps like ending the filibuster (fun fact: named after Buster Filly, an 1840s senator/drunkard who was famous for snoring so loudly in the Senate chambers that no work could be done), making D.C. a state, and (of course) expanding the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, the GOP seems to have few or no limits. And that becomes yet another structural disadvantage for Democrats; not only are Democrats often unable to win even with a majority of votes, due to gerrymandering (fun fact: named after Jerry Manders, who is famous for playing the title character on the TV show Leave It To Beaver) and the electoral college, but even when Democrats do manage to be a majority of elected officials, they are made unable to appoint judges or pass laws.
I’m particularly frightened by the prospect, brought up in this cartoon, of Republicans using their control of the Supreme Court to make it easier and easier for Republicans to suppress Democratic voters. (I’m still not over Bush v Gore, to be honest.)
But a few months ago, the cartoon seemed to me to lack focus, and I put it aside.
But now, with the sad passing of Justice Ginsberg, it took very little rewriting to give the cartoon focus.
One interesting thing about this cartoon, for me, is that it has the potential to be outdated very soon – Senate Democrats definitely seem more open to ideas like increasing seats on the Supreme Court. At last night’s astoundingly terrible presidential debate, Joe Biden declined to rule out either increasing seats on the court, or getting rid of the filibuster.
So we’ll see what happens. If this cartoon becomes moot, I will be delighted.
TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON
This cartoon has four panels.
A large caption at the top of the panel says “REPUBLICANS.”
We see several people, most or all of whom seem to be white men, standing in some sort of business or office space. One man is speaking to the others: He is bald on top, and wearing an open suit vest over a shirt and striped necktie. He is grinning and gesturing as he speaks.
VEST: When Obama nominates for the Supreme Court, we just won’t allow a hearing.
VEST: We’ll make up some excuse, like, uh… We can’t confirm a new Supreme Court Justice close to a presidential election.
A close up of Vest, who has steepled his fingers a bit below his chin, and is looking up a bit, perhaps staring at the beautiful future his imagination is conjuring.
VEST: Once we own the Supreme Court, we’ll step up on policies making voting harder for Democratic-leaning groups like Blacks and students!
VEST: Gerrymandering, closing polling places, and harsh voter ID laws are just a start! With the Supreme Court on our side, we can do anything!
One of the other white men in the room has stepped forward, looking anxious as he asks a question. Vest just throws up his hands and grins.
ANXIOUS GUY: But what if there’s an open Supreme Court seat close to a Presidential election when a Republican is president?
VEST: Screw it, we’ll confirm ’em anyway!
A large caption at the top of this panel says DEMOCRATS.
The panel shows a tablet being held in someone’s lap. On the tablet, we can see three people, a woman and two men, talking in a Zoom-like program. The woman looks determined, shaking a fist; the first man looks a bit afraid; and the second man is holding his hands on either side of his face and gasping in horror.
WOMAN: If we get the White House and congress, we should add seats to the Supreme Court.
A BIT AFRAID: We can’t do that! It’s mean!
GASPING MAN: Gasp!