IT’S *NOT* THE ECONOMY, STUPID

IT’S *NOT* THE ECONOMY, STUPID

Hanes HallbirnMonday,29 October 2012

The Snap

In 1992, when Bill Clinton was running for President of the United States, political strategist James Carville hung a sign, with three important talking points, on the door of Clinton’s campaign headquarters. The second message, “The Economy, Stupid,” became a rallying cry in Clinton’s successful bid to unseat incumbent George Herbert Walker Bush. And now, twenty years later, polls show that the economy is once again the most important issue to voters, as they evaluate presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

The Download

Yes, it’s true that the United States is in a prolonged economic funk, and that the next president must take actions to help stimulate economic growth. However, a more important consideration for voters should be the role that the next president will have in shaping the composition of the U.S. Supreme Court. Three Supreme Court justices will turn 80 during the next presidential term, and a fourth will turn 78. Thus, the next President may have an opportunity to replace between two and four of those bench seats (the average age for retirement by justices is 78.7).

Think about the ramifications of this for a moment, especially for issues such a equal marriage rights, abortion, affirmative actions, and health care. A liberal-leaning court could advance social issues, while a more conservative bench could roll back past decisions (*cough* – Roe v. Wade), delay social progress, limit federal powers, and even chip away at the very legality of entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

The consequences of our votes will shape the Supreme Court’s disposition for an entire generation. An entire generation. So rather than vote mainly based on short-sighted economic woes (after all, they’re called “economic cycles” for a reason), take a moment and think about the role the Supreme Court will have in shaping the country our children and grandchildren will inherit. Make a smart choice.

Hat Tips

The New York Times, Talking Points Memo, Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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