Consider your day, whoever you are: You work hard. You supervise a hard-working staff. You have to spend all day solving problems and all night not speaking to partisan groups, unless you really want to! Your brow is furrowed with care and toil, and you probably cannot even choose the outfit you wear to your place of employment! Do you really wish to do this until the day you die?
Nonsense! You could be sitting by a pleasant lake. You could be reclining on a beach on a thick, absorbent towel. You could be reading, just for pleasure, not (to pick one random example) a grueling brief but just … a book of your choosing. You could watch “The Sopranos,” either for the first time or again! You could awaken on each new day and see stretching before you a world of possibilities, where you owed no one your time or your company.
To whom does your life belong, ultimately? Your country, yes, but also yourself! Life is made of so many precious, individual moments that cannot be replaced. Do you really wish to spend the remainder of your existence forced to sit in a room with a man named Neil with whom you disagree? You do not need to perish in the traces! You are not a Victorian cab horse! You are a free individual who could retire any time he wanted!
You know what they say: You win the rat race, you’re still a rat. You get appointed to a rat seat on the highest rat court in the land, and you’re still a rat. It was almost certainly unnecessary to tailor the saying in that way, because I’m addressing all kinds of people, not just Justice Breyer! But there’s more to life than work, is what I’m trying to say.
I am not saying that you couldn’t keep working, of course, if you wanted to. You are clearly competent to do whatever you would like. But if I could retire right now, I wouldn’t hesitate. The point is to retire when you are still in the prime of life and capable of extracting pleasure from it, when you could still plausibly take up golf, or another new hobby that is not golf, or dissenting.
Now, obviously, it is bad when things look partisan. No one is disagreeing about that. But you know what really appears partisan? When the Senate blocks the confirmation of a qualified nominee because Mitch McConnell wants to so that one president gets to appoint three whole conservative justices to the Supreme Court! That seems pretty partisan! Maybe it would appear a little partisan to retire before that would certainly happen, but not more partisan than it would both appear to be and be, in reality, if it did happen.
Just something to consider! A metaphor for why retiring is good — or, in one specific case, a literal scenario you are dealing with!
Also something to consider: windsurfing! You could really enjoy that!
Not that I would pressure you. I would never presume to pressure you! And, as we established, you’re probably just some guy whose retirement would not be partisan anyway. But also, just in case, if your job were one of the few hinges on which our republic hangs, and if Mitch McConnell said he would not allow it to be filled were he in charge of the Senate, why, I would certainly consider whether it wouldn’t be nice to retire!
Retire when you can relax and know for sure that somebody who isn’t — hypothetically — Ted Cruz will be taking your position! That’s what I would do! Personally! I am, of course, speaking generally. But if you happen to see yourself in what I’ve described, I hope you will take it to heart and consider retirement, Justice Breyer — or, indeed, anyone else!