Gwendolyn Soper: Ginsburg’s poetic plea for a new president

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden attends a memorial service in honor of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as she lies in state in Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020 in Washington. (Chip Somodevilla/Pool via AP)

It was pure poetry. Ruth Bader Ginsburg reportedly dictated a now-famous statement to her granddaughter days before her death. She said, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

Will her words be enough to persuade more citizens to trust her and vote for Joe Biden, especially in a conservative state like Utah? Chard deNiord once wrote that poetry has the power to save people and countries. Will her poetic plea be powerful enough to save our country?

Like a haiku, her poetic yearning started out with five syllables: “My most fervent wish.” Those impassioned words carry in them her longing that the Senate be respectful of her wishes to be judicious: no confirmation until inauguration. Within that one sentence, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in her wisdom, uttered two poetic protestations that citizens of the United States and some members of the Senate still hear ringing.

Her first wish almost sounds like an oath befitting the woman who consistently chose her words with forethought: “I will not be replaced until...”

It’s too early to tell if the Ginsburg seat will soon be filled. Sen. Mitt Romney, who many hoped would break rank for a swift vote, said “The Constitution gives the president the power to nominate and the Senate the authority to provide advice and consent on Supreme Court nominees.” He continued, “If the nominee reaches the Senate floor, I intend to vote based upon their qualifications.”

I’m reassured only by the words “based upon their qualifications.” His track record for doing the right thing reassures me that he will be thoughtful and prudent.

Ginsburg’s second protestation for, “a new president” depends on millions of citizens — all eligible voters — not just the Senate. I’m worried, however, that many citizens are worn out from the effects of the pandemic, natural disasters and (the list goes on), relying only on single news sources to get their information. It’s easy to become loyal to one news source.

Business Insider published some information about trustworthy news sources. It said how most respondents, when given a list of major news outlets, seemed to agree “that PBS News and The Associated Press were the least biased outlets, while Fox News and Breitbart News tied for having the most perceived bias.” PBS News, then, and AP news sound like trustworthy sources for those searching for the least biased.

Poetry, like Ginsburg’s plea, is everywhere whether it’s political or in sonnet form. It has been the saving grace of many during the pandemic. It’s spray-painted on the sides of buildings, it’s written in Magic Marker on protest posters, it’s being read by poets on social media during the pandemic like on Billy Collins' “The Poetry Broadcast,” and on the Paris Review.

But poetry can’t save you if you don’t read it or listen to someone read it, just like you can’t choose the best candidate for president of the United States if you’re not informed. Poetry and voting share a common thread: you need to listen deeply. We the people may not be able to control the Senate, but we can control the outcome of Election Day.

Get prepared to vote wisely. Listen to other news channels to hear both sides. Listen for the beat. There’s a beat that’s getting louder. It’s coming from a nation united by desperation. It’s pounding like a gavel, and, as citizens, we have some control over the gavel. Listen to what it’s proclaiming when it hits the sound block on the desk. It sounds like this: Vote for a new president.

It’s still possible that the words uttered in the final days by our diminutive giant, the woman who had massive political stature, will ultimately demand obeisance from the Senate. And it’s very likely she will have swayed many more Americans to vote for “a new president”.

May we all be informed voters and respect her wishes. May the last descending gavel of our votes in November unite with her voice. Poetic justice (when virtue is ultimately rewarded and viciousness is punished) is conceivable. May Justice Ginsburg exact it from beyond the grave with our help. Please vote.

Gwendolyn Taylor Soper

Gwendolyn Soper writes commentary about basic human rights and current events. She lives in Utah, USA.