The Illegitimacy of the Ruling Class

Source: In These Times

Despite Christine Blasey Ford’s stirring testimony, an FBI investigation, thousands of protesters (hundreds of whom were arrested), petitions and phone calls from constituents, an elevator confrontation and a record-high disapproval rating, on October 6 the U.S. Senate confirmed Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court by a margin of two.

That evening, Kavanaugh was granted a lifetime appointment to a deeply undemocratic institution. He was confirmed by a legislative body that counts some votes more than others, giving the loudest voice (per capita) to the most sparsely populated states. The Senate’s majority vote represented a minority of Americans (44 percent). And Kavanaugh was selected by a president who lost the popular vote, a pedigree he shares with three of his esteemed colleagues: Neil Gorsuch, John Roberts and Samuel Alito.

It was, in other words, an egregious case of the system working precisely as designed. The framers of the Constitution imagined the Supreme Court, the Senate and the Electoral College to function as checks on the “tyranny of the majority”—in other words, to ensure white male landowners had the final say. Two centuries later, the women’s suffrage and civil rights movements expanded the franchise far beyond what the founders intended. But, thanks to unprecedented electoral spending by corporations and the wealthy, as well as rampant voter suppression—both of which were granted a constitutional green light by recent Supreme Court decisions—the Republican-led government has become increasingly unmoored from the people it ostensibly represents. For decades, the party has moved rightward, embracing an explicitly white, male, native-born, wealthy, heterosexual identity politics paired with a program of severe disinvestment and deregulation. Donald Trump is the apotheosis of this class vision—and has revealed it in all its cruelty.

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