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Things are escalating | Three Things Thursday

Remembering the legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and how it drives the doom loop. Three Things Thursday.

Brett Maney
Sr. Communications Manager
September 24, 2020

My coworker Blake called me last week to make sure I’d heard the news: the notorious Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died. 

I was sad, to be sure. How could I not mourn the loss of one of the greatest Americans of our time? Of all time? 

But there was barely time for that; not a moment was spared to reflect on the legacies of one of the most ardent fighters for women’s equality. Not a moment was spared to honor her legacy as only the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court.

Instead, the conversation immediately moved to discuss who would replace Ginsburg, and more contentiously, who would choose her replacement. 

Without pause, without hesitation, the two parties chose their side and hunkered down for battle. 

Things are escalating. 

Here are three things to think about this week. 

  1. Until there are nine.

When asked when she would be satisfied with the number of women on the Supreme Court, Ginsburg replied simply, “When there are nine.”

The quote represents so much of Ginsburg and her legacy, as a woman who wholeheartedly took on the patriarchy without fear. She was not only a trailblazer for women everywhere, but an advocate for them as well. She fought the legal battles that helped to ensure equality under the law, and in doing so, continued the fight that the suffragettes started before her. 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg helped America to better live up to its promises as a nation, and she created a better country in the process. She is a legend, an icon, and an American hero. Thank you, Justice Ginsburg. 

  1. … and now let’s talk about the chaos that ensued

There’s a label for the rapid escalation in partisan warfare that has occurred over the course of the last week: a two-party doom loop. Coined by our friend and advisor Lee Drutman, the doom-loop describes the ongoing cycle of partisan fighting, in which escalation begets escalation, creating a spiraling loop of disaster. Worse yet, it leaves our country trapped in an endless game of chicken in which neither side is willing to cave. 

This week for Foreign Policy, Drutman describes how the events of recent weeks show yet another step in the two parties race to the bottom. Both sides are willing to throw norms and practices out the window in order to pursue their own agendas, as a victory for the other side becomes an existential crisi. 

Drutman points out, the reason these elected officials can be so stagnant and yet reelected is because our electoral system is broken. The first past the post system creates an inherently polarized system in which two sides must be diametrically opposed in order to survive. It’s a doom loop, and it will destroy our country. 

  1. But let’s get started fixing it anyway

The last one isn’t something to read in as much as it’s something to do. The system may be broken, but that doesn’t mean we’re not going to try to fix it. In fact, we the people are working to fix the system. In Alaska, Virginia, Florida, Missouri, and Massachusetts voters have the chance to build a better government, and tend to our democracy the way it demands to be tended. 

I highly encourage you if you live in any of these states to get involved with these campaigns. You can help to convince your fellow voters that there is a better way forward that isn’t down the path of more partisanship, but instead of unity and and representation. 

We’re just about 39 days out from the election. The time to get involved is now.