What with the Supreme Court nomination shaping up to be the greatest political debacle of our time, I'm thinking about the most useful way to proceed -- where my voice would most likely be *useful*. I look at mega-petitions like MoveOn and such, and I find myself pretty skeptical that anyone's going to really pay much attention to them. Indeed, I'm not even sure that they're entirely productive, because I expect them to push a line nearly as intransigent as the neocons.
What I *personally* want to see is a relative moderate on the bench. In this case, the best plausible outcome is getting someone who is fairly open, forthright and thoughtful -- conservative but not knee-jerk conservative. Frankly, someone like Justice O'Connor herself. What I do *not* want is to wind up with either a tool of the religious right, or a cipher. (Who would probably be such a tool in reality.)
So the question is: who would be optimal to write to? Say I want to send semi-personalized letters (in my own words, rather than pure machine-driven petitions) to ten Senators. Which ones should they be? The hard-right ones would be entirely useless, I believe, and the hard-left ones nearly as much so -- both of those sides are going to settle into open warfare, and are unlikely to give ground.
Rather, I'm looking for the swing votes, who might be convinced to be reasonable. I want the moderate Republicans to withhold support (or, at least, not actively fight for) the more ideological nominees. And I want the moderate Democrats to keep a stiff spine against those ideologues, while seeking genuine compromise candidates to push for. A filibuster is likely to be necessary, but it's important to present viable alternatives while doing so. There is no chance of getting someone *less* conservative than O'Connor, but a disciplined campaign might be able to get someone similar to her -- a genuine swing vote.
And to both sides, I think I want to ask for patience and stamina. This is going to be brutal and bruising, and the first few rounds are either going to stalemate, or the conservatives are going to have to pull out the anti-filibuster nuke again. Working past that is going to take a lot of patience. This is all about round three, when the public has lost its patience with both sides and compromise is strictly necessary.
Yes, it may be rosy-eyed to even imagine a decent outcome of this mess. But better to hypothesize a possible good outcome and do my own tiny statistical part towards it, rather than throw up my hands and give up...