If there's one decisive and lasting legacy that Donald Trump has won, it's his takeover of the federal courts. They are lost to liberals for a generation, as many of us warned would happen, but we were told in angry response that "scaring people into voting for Hillary" would never work.
In a sense, it failed because the millions of people who shrugged and decided that a protest vote for Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, a write-in or a black space wasn't anything that would damage their rights personally. Clinton only got 43% of the white 18-29 vote in 2016, Trump 47%, and another 10% picked neither. Why the hell did any of us expect 25-year old white kids to give a damn about civil rights, women's rights, LGBTQ+ rights, or any of that?
No, the kids aren't alright. Not in the least. And that brings us to the courts we lost.
After three years in office, President Donald Trump has remade the federal judiciary, ensuring a conservative tilt for decades and cementing his legacy no matter the outcome of November's election.
Trump nominees make up 1 in 4 U.S. circuit court judges. Two of his picks sit on the Supreme Court. And this past week, as the House voted to impeach the president, the Republican-led Senate confirmed another 13 district court judges.
In total, Trump has installed 187 judges to the federal bench.
Trump's mark on the judiciary is already having far-reaching effects on legislation and liberal priorities. Just last week, the 5th Circuit struck down a core provision of the Affordable Care Act. One of the two appellate judges who ruled against the landmark law was a Trump appointee.
The Supreme Court - where two of the nine justices are conservatives selected by Trump - could eventually hear that case.
The 13 circuit courts are the second most powerful in the nation, serving as a last stop for appeals on lower court rulings, unless the case is taken up by the Supreme Court. So far, Trump has appointed 50 judges to circuit court benches. Comparatively, by this point in President Barack Obama's first term, he had confirmed 25. At the end of his eight years, he had appointed 55 circuit judges.
Trump's appointments have flipped three circuit courts to majority GOP-appointed judges, including the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York. The president has also selected younger conservatives for these lifetime appointments, ensuring his impact is felt for many years.
The executor of this aggressive push is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who is almost singularly focused on reshaping the federal judiciary, twice ramming through Senate rule changes to speed up confirmations over Democrats' objections.
"Leave no vacancy behind" is his mantra, McConnell has stated publicly. With a 53-to-47 Senate majority, he has been able to fill openings at breakneck speed.
Another Trump term and the civil rights era is over. The voting rights era is over. The women's rights and LGBTQ+ equality movements are over. Roe is done. The federal government will no longer be the guarantor of your rights as an American, your rights, your citizenship status, and what you will be allowed to do will solely be determined by what state you live in.
In other words, we go back to Jim Crow 1880s, or worse, the 1850s.
But again, for most young white Millennials and now white Gen Z kids voting for the first time?
Why should that matter? Why shouldn't they vote for the party that will make them full citizens from the get-go?
It should be enough to do the right thing, but how can I expect someone to vote against their interests and care about people other than themselves?