It was just a week ago that Democrats announced their plans to filibuster the Supreme Court Confirmation of Trump nominee Neil Gorsuch, and already, the unified front has buckled by the two reddest Democrats in the Senate.
Continuing a trend of saying “yes” to every Trump appointee that has come before them, Senators Joe Manchin (W.V.) and Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) both say that they are willing to vote for Gorsuch. Manchin went as far as to say he could see no reason not to confirm the man, despite his far-right beliefs and court history of siding with corporations and against consumers.
Many progressives and Democrats were encouraged to hear that Democrats planned to filibuster the SCOTUS nominee, foremost because of the current mess that is the Trump administration. Many fear that Trump may not even make it to his first full year in office, and that he should not be able to make lifetime appointments while under an active FBI investigation – hard to disagree with that.
And yet we’ve got two Democrats that have managed to hold onto their office by leering as far right as they can while still under the banner of blue.
When these Senators voted for all of Trump’s cabinet appointees, some urged me to back off of the criticism – ‘would you rather have no Democrats in these blue states at all?,’ they asked. But how useful is that sort of thinking now? It is especially hard to buy into that narrative considering that Senator Bernie Sanders was a big winner in Manchin’s state, indicating that there is an untapped bubble of progressivism in the state that the DNC is feeding a steady diet of nothing but purple Democrats.
While Republicans are no doubt encouraged by the betrayal of barely-Dems in the Senate, Gorsuch’s confirmation is still far from certain. In order to break the Senate’s planned filibuster, eight Democratic Senators must defect, an unrealistic expectation considering the current state of the Trump administration.
I hope it is clear now that any Democrat who attempts to buckle at this stage and hand a lifetime appointment to a 49-year-old judge who is to the right of Antonin Scalia means a sure political death. Democrats are paying attention, and your loyalty is being watched.