Nothing like a Supreme Court justice dying to drive our country further apart. With the primaries pitting people on the same side against each other, making for, not even arguably, the worst mudslinging campaigns ever, we needed something to rally people around, not further illuminate folks’ ugly sides. Antonin Scalia’s shocking death manage to unite Democrats and Republicans – so they can get back to understanding who the real enemy is. Each other.
As I’ve referenced in the other political blogs that have been posted in this space, the biggest problem of any group, organization, team or company is not understanding the basic concept for success: What’s right is more important than who’s right. And that is where the country stands when politics is involved. Other areas, too, but it’s violated nowhere more than in the political arena.
As sad as “Nino” Scalia’s death is, what has been revealed about the friendship between the unlikeliest pair of justices, the uber conservative Scalia and his liberal counterpart, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Seldom were the two on the same side of an argument, especially if the case had anything to do with interpreting the Constitution. Yet, a bond existed between the two justices and their families, including vacationing together. In the world that currently exists, how can that be?
When asked about that very topic, here’s what they had to say. First, Scalia. “If you can’t disagree ardently with your colleagues about some issues of law and yet personally still be friends, get another job, for Pete’s sake.” Oh, if only you had shouted that from the mountaintops, Chief Justice, before your untimely passing.
Did Ginsburg share similar strong feelings for her counterpart? Even more so. “My opinion is ever so much better because of his stinging dissent. Someday, we will go back to having the kind of legislature that we should, where members, whatever party they belong to, want to make the thing work and cooperate with each other to see that that will happen.” For someone who was born in the 1940s (the late 40s), that type of dialogue bring back memories from my youth – listening to politicians discuss issues rather than personalities, topics that strengthened the nation as opposed to tearing it apart. Synergy was the by-product of interactions back then.
The friendship between those two brilliant scholars was based on mutual respect and common interests that transcended their ideological differences. I mean, if a candidate (since we’re in an election year) can’t take criticism from an opponent without resorting to personal attacks, maybe . . . he or she is wrong. As stated earlier, Scalia and Ginsburg regularly were on opposite sides in matters that divide the nation — including abortion, affirmative action, campaign funding, the death penalty, the environment, gay rights and gun rights. Yet, they managed to somehow not only get along, but respect each other. Our politicians should be ashamed.
Outside of work, the two justices focused on what they had in common – and managed to leave “work” at the office. Unfortunately, in order to win an election, or simply engage in a discussion of an issue, the vast majority today no longer believe in that strategy, as we have witnessed from the political debates of both parties.
As philosopher, social critic and satirist, Mokokoma Mokhonoana’s puts it:
“We usually learn from debates that we seldom learn from debates.”