Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg died yesterday.
Within hours Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that, even with the election six weeks away, he would bring President Trump’s nominee up for a Senate vote as soon as possible. This after withholding a vote on President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, for eleven months declaring that a vote on a Supreme Court Justice in an election year was inappropriate. “Now things have changed,” he says.
The predominant philosophical stance in politics these days
(And, maybe most of the time)
Is the ends justify the means.
In other words, anything goes as long as you achieve your goal.
You can lie.
You can cheat.
You can change the rules.
You can say what you said yesterday is no longer true because now it is today.
You can bully.
You can demean.
You can demonize.
Because the ends justify whatever means you have to use to reach your goal.
An alternative political philosophy is this:
The means justify the ends.
In other words…
How you achieve your goals
The strategies you use;
The way you treat and respect others;
The integrity you employ;
Matters as much as the goals themselves.
In fact, the means you use validate your goals.
This is a style of leadership I long for.
And, maybe you do as well.
(I first became aware of the political philosophy of the means justifying the ends when I studied Gandhi’s leadership of his non-violent effort to free India from British rule.)
Senator McConnell may prevail in forcing a vote on President Trump’s nominee to replace Ruth Bader Ginsberg, but the appointment will be tarnished. No matter how good or how thoughtful a jurist the person proves to be their reputation will be carry the weight and bear the stain of the deceptive politics used to appoint them. There will always be an asterisk after her or his name because of the means used to confirm them. Just as there will always be an asterisk after the name of Neil Gorsuch.
And, after the name of Mitch McConnell, as well.