In March 2016, then-President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, but Senate Republicans refused to consider Garland’s nomination — “no hearings, no votes, no action whatsoever,” as Sen. Mitch McConnell announced soon after.
After President Donald Trump’s election win in November, Change.org petition starter Adam Broad — with two months left before Garland’s nomination expired — started a petition calling on the Senate to confirm him before considering any of Trump’s appointees.
We sat down with Adam to discuss his petition, Trump’s recent nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, and what he thinks is at stake in America’s political climate.
A member of the Democratic Socialists of America and a Service Industry professional with 30 years experience as a writer, activist and campaign organizer, Adam spent the last three years tracking Republican candidates as an opposition researcher. He is currently co-organizing a new “Our Revolution” chapter in Lake County, IL, where he is also a candidate for Vernon Township Trustee.
Q: Yesterday, Donald Trump announced Judge Neil Gorsuch as his nominee to the Supreme Court. A few months ago, you started a Change.org petition calling on the Senate to filibuster any of Mr. Trump’s nominees, stating that there could be no discussion or compromise until President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, was put on the Court. His nomination has now expired, but what motivated you to call on the Senate — and other supporters — to do that?
A: After the election, it was my gut feeling that Democrats, and progressives in general, had good ground for taking a stand, and that we could hold the line here without buckling. I suspected there might be some people advocating for total obstruction on everything everywhere. To my surprise, there’s more of that than I anticipated, but I also knew that many people would consider it irresponsible to embrace total obstruction for the sake of total obstruction. But there are strong general principles behind standing up for a stolen seat as a prerequisite for moving forward on any compromise. A lot is at stake. People’s lives are at stake.
In many ways, starting the petition, for me, was akin to General John Buford, who is credited for having a pivotal role at the Battle of Gettysburg. I don’t mean to compare myself to Buford or the sacrifices he and his men made. The only comparison is recognizing the high ground and choosing the field of battle. Buford did that and held his ground until reinforcements arrived. And I understood right away that we could not surrender that stolen pick. Over 130,000 people stood with me. Now the reinforcements are arriving, but there is still a long struggle ahead.
Q: Since Trump announced his nominee, there’s been conversation about the need for Democrats to not fight Gorscuch’s nomination. The reason, sources say, is because they’d rather delay their battle for a future nomination that might actually shift the court’s balance. What do you say to those who think compromise is better right now?
For 30 years I’ve been following Michael Harrington’s call to build a progressive movement by working within the Democratic Party. As you might guess, I’ve taken a lot of ridicule and criticism from the hard Left, anarchists, Libertarians, and Greens for that choice. The idea of Democrats compromising on this seat seems to validate the criticism that the party is a hapless tool of the oligarchs, and that the primary function of it is to provide a social club for wealthy liberals, and that Democrats are in the business of winning elections for Republicans, every bit as much as the Green party.
But when you look at the resistance in Congress or anywhere in the government, the only reason we haven’t lost it all is because there are Democrats in a position to make a difference. I respect protest politics, but we need electoral wins and legal authority. Democrats who would sell us out and break the resistance, rather than proving the Democratic party is irredeemable, prove that we need solidarity within the party. I’m a bit stunned by the progressives who cry the Democratic party isn’t progressive enough when they’ve done nothing to help those of us who have been beating our heads against the walls for decades to push for a Democratic Left.
Q: In calling on the Senate to not confirm Trump’s nominee, what’s at stake for you, or what do you think is at stake for the country?
If Trump is able to fill the court, it might obstruct the progressive movement for decades. It will not only make forward progress difficult, it could easily roll back the hard fought battles of the last 40 years. So instead of a four-year victory term for reactionaries, it will be a 50 year victory. It will not bring us to the glorified ideal past that President Trump promised voters, but bring us to the brutal unjust status quo we hoped we left behind us.
I’m thinking of the Freedom Riders and Civil Rights marchers who endured beatings, dog attacks, jail and death to move us beyond bigotry. Back-alley abortions. Stonewall. I’m thinking of the hundreds of years of religious wars that drenched Europe with the blood of Catholics and Protestants, which inspired our founders to have a separation of church and state, allowing Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Atheists, Agnostics, Pagans, and Christians to have the essential freedom of finding or ignoring the divine presence according to individual conscience, rather than being mandated by the state. We could lose much of what I consider redeemable and good. I’m very concerned for the water protectors in the Sioux Nation. They will face more violence and danger. And we, as a nation, are in danger of losing any legal-rational recourse.
Q: You’re running for office in your home area. In seeking office, what are you hoping to do, and how does it fit to or respond to the current political climate that many see themselves in?
Our Vernon Township Democratic Slate is primarily concerned with freezing or reducing our tax burden, cutting waste, and shifting more resources to our seniors and children with special needs. We are working to encourage more participation in local government by instituting the transparency and accountability that encourages it. Government, like it or not, affects your life. An efficient administration can be a positive force in the community and something we all feel good about.
But aside from this local election, I’m participating in a larger movement — through groups like Democratic Socialists of America, Our Revolution, and Democracy For America to build a progressive movement from the ground up. The GOP controls the majority of State Houses, both houses of Congress and the White House. By building our movement, we can start with our local and municipal elections, with school boards and local government, and build a coalition that takes back the state houses, Congress, and even the White House with the next couple of election cycles.
It will be a lot of hard work ,and success isn’t guaranteed, but I’m confident about that.