So, my previous post about a consciously optimistic outlook on the world didn’t age well, huh? Exhilarated by Thursday’s Brad & Jen reunion for the Fast Times live table read I was almost ready to give 2020 a chance for the remaining odd three months. This was met with a classic “Hold my beer” -response as The News swooped over the world late Friday evening. You win, 2020. You win.
You have already read all the reporting and speculation about the consequences of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing. In the short term there are no silver linings anywhere. The horror scenario would be to have some vote-count shenanigans in November that the Supreme Court would be tasked to confirm, as was the case in 2000 when the Bush/Gore -situation had to be cleared by the Court (RBG dissented at the time, signing off simply “I dissent”).
As it stands, the conservatives hold 5 of the 8 seats, so the math is pretty straightforward.
I do not wish to dwell on any other particular scenarios, because it’s 2020 and they will all likely become reality.
Too much of collective angst was put on the shoulders of this diminutive octogenarian. A lawyer wailed in the US media, following RBG’s death, “Who’s going to take care of us now?” Well.
Ironically RBG herself saw institutions, also called the bureaucracy, to exist partly to at least slow down the craziest short-term political madness. She was a believer in judiciary and democratically elected institutions. In a functioning political and judicial system the fate of a country’s democracy cannot ever be made the responsibility of one person. In a way the very system she believed in kind of failed not just her, but millions of Americans.
Rebecca Traister wrote an excellent piece about this in The Cut magazine.
I am a huge RBG-fangirl, and have written about her on many occasions. The following bit is from 2017: “Any 84 year old woman deserves a rest! A retirement! RBG should get an annual subscription to the Metropolitan Opera and the time to go see a performance whenever she damn pleases! It’s us, people less than half her age, who should be carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders! Therefore 2018 needs to see more people under 80 years of age who will fight the good fight. There’s so much fuckwittery in the world that we cannot seriously outsource our shit to an 84 year-old woman who out-planks the most of us, just because we cannot be bothered ourselves!”
See, that’s the problem. We cannot continue sitting on our arses and have people like Gloria Steinem (86 years) or Jane Fonda (82 years) run around demonstrating and organising and taking care of us. Ever keen to offer advise, I continued in the 2017 post:
“You ask yourself, “so exactly what am I supposed to be doing, then”? You can always take a look at some of the fantastic feminist literature around to get an idea and no, it will not turn you into a man-hating militant. Just have your sisters’ back. It might require opening your mouth every now and then, sometimes being silent, but always casting your vote when given the chance.
You will need to keep your eyes open, never take things at face value, and you will need to question many things. We cannot obviously all be Supreme Court judges, but we also cannot be people who keep repeating ad nauseam that things are as they are and nothing can ever be changed. Dear reader, things are dark until they’re not. “
(2020 edit: That is, at least until the end of 2020, and there are no exceptions to this.)
It’s always a bit awkward to put people on a pedestal because we are all just humans and all that, but whichever way I look at Bader Ginsburg and her life, she was in every way absolutely extraordinary (except that she could not cook, which also just merely confirms that she was a human at all). This includes her late spouse Marty, who, uncharacteristically for a 50s husband, took over the family’s household tasks to enable Bader Ginsburg to pursue her true passion: law.
An unlikely superhero with an equality masterplan that she pursued ruthlessly, but ever so elegantly, Ruth Bader Ginsburg may long reign. I wrote in the beginning that in the short term her passing will only create a 360° full-on shit tornado, but on a long term there might be something there. Maybe a critical mass for a change will emerge, maybe people finally wake up to the call “yes, all your rights can be taken away from you while you photograph your avocado toast for Instagram and don’t pay attention”.
Bader Ginsburg said, as a reply to a question whether she regretted offending (then) candidate Trump that “I am optimistic in the long run. A great man once said that the true symbol of the United States is not the bald eagle. It is the pendulum. And when the pendulum swings too far in one direction it will go back.”
So we have to play the long game, but forget about comfortably hovering in the bleachers and instead keep both eyes on the ball and each run our share. Her legacy is far too precious to fuck up.
Below some of her landmark cases embroidered on a mask, a sort of 2020-obituary.
(We all have our coping mechanisms.)