After two long years of COVID, I am happy to use the word infectious in a positive way. Yes, joy is infectious and I thank Senator Cory Booker for reminding us of that here in Bucks County, even though he is from New Jersey.
Like many Americans, I listened to the recent Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Thankfully, the hearings were broadcast on several radio stations and television channels so I was able to hear most of the questioning of this exceedingly well-qualified candidate during my daily activities. Of course, I was dismayed by the predictable disappointing line of questioning by the Republican senators who seemed to be crafting political ads for their next fundraiser as they trotted out irrelevant ideological talking points and tired dog-whistle tropes instead of exposing the brilliance of the candidate who shone before them. But Judge Jackson did expose her brilliance in responding to their absurd charges with reasoned fact-based calm refutations. What a mind, what a temperament, what graceful composure under fire.
But, near the end of the second day of lengthy, grueling questioning, Senator Booker greeted the nominee with an inspiring poetic symphony of words that captured the historic moment so well. He gleefully asserted that nothing would take away the joy of this moment when soon, most likely without any help whatsoever from any Republican senators, America would finally have a Black female on the Supreme Court. Out of 115 Supreme Court Justices so far, 108 have been white men. Yes, it’s about time for Judge Jackson to break this barrier. While driving in my car, Cory’s joy was contagious to my heart and his glowing oratory brought tears to my eyes (and to Judge Jackson’s eyes too, as I learned later).
I imagined the joy that slaves felt when President Lincoln declared his Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. I imagined the joy women felt in 1920 when the 15th amendment was passed which finally gave most women the right to vote. I imagined the joy Jackie Robinson (and so many true sports fans who wanted to see the best talent, irrespective of race, allowed to play in the great American game) felt in 1947 when he played his first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers. I imagined the joy the LGBTQ+ community felt in 2015 when the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in its Obergefell v. Hodges decision. I also sadly thought of the thousands of people in these categories who were denied opportunity and suffered cruelty because of laws and practices that were essentially un-American.
Yet, as these great changes came to pass, not only were the aggrieved parties joyful, but all other Americans who truly understood the ideals and dream of America were joyful as well. Because true history, which all children should learn, shows us that America has not always lived up to the great ideals of its founding. Still, what makes America great and lovable is its engagement in a continuing journey to make those ideals a reality in our daily common practices. We make these dreams come true through hard work and through the peaceful exercise of our political rights whether on the street, in public discourse or at the ballot box.
America is arriving again at another overdue place on its wonderful journey to a more perfect union, thanks to President Biden and a Democratic Senate majority. That was what made Senator Booker so joyful when addressing the soon to be first Black female on the Supreme Court. America‘s dream is a union where all Americans are welcome to a pursuit of happiness with freedom, respect and dignity and without any immoral obstacles of prejudice or hate. In getting closer to realizing that dream with the confirmation of Judge Jackson, all Americans should be proud and joyful.
But there is another important message that we here in Bucks County, Pennsylvania can learn from our friend from New Jersey. If there was no Democratic majority in the Senate, most likely Judge Jackson would not be confirmed and the shattering of this Supreme Court barrier would have to wait for another day. That is one critical reason why the 2022 election matters so much. Since Republican Senator Pat Toomey is not seeking re-election here in Pennsylvania, the people of Bucks County have an opportunity to help maintain the Democratic majority in the Senate. Please help elect a Democrat to this Pennsylvania Senate seat by volunteering for, donating to, or voting for the Pennsylvania Democratic senatorial candidate to be decided upon in the May primary (either Malcolm Kenyatta, John Fetterman, or Conor Lamb) so the Senate can continue to do good and joyful things for the American people.