We witnessed Republicans’ contempt for America’s proud history of bipartisan governing when Barack Obama became president. We the people saw in Obama the promise of hope, relief from eight years of a disastrous George W. Bush presidency.
Republicans in Congress saw an Obama presidency differently, blocking Obama’s every effort to help us, the American people. Mick Mulvaney summarized it this way: “The last thing we were interested in was giving President Obama legislative successes.” More than 500 Obama-backed bills died in this organized obstruction that lasted eight years. Yes, two terms. We, the people, saw Obama’s greatness, wanted him to be our leader, so elected him to a second term. Republicans ground their teeth and hunkered down for more obstructing.
The Republican party versus the people.
This commitment to blocking everything Obama proposed came to a head in February 2016 when Antonin Scalia, conservative Supreme Court justice, died. Obama nominated Merrick Garland, a widely respected appeals court justice, to fill Scalia’s seat on the powerful high court.
Oh, no, no, no, said the Republicans. This is an election year. We should wait until the people of America choose their new president, who should then choose Scalia’s successor. Mitch McConnell, who rules the U.S. Senate with an iron hand as majority leader, decreed that no Obama nominee to the court would receive a vote. Predictably, other Republicans fell in line, citing the “Biden rule.” Then-Senator Joe Biden had said in a 1997 speech on the Senate floor: “Once the political season is under way, and it is, action on a Supreme Court nomination must be put off until after the election campaign is over.”
That was then. This is now, and we are seeing the soul of the Republican party.
Why do adults display their hypocrisy so openly? Do you wonder what moral principles guide them in such behavior? Self preservation? Is it that fundamental?
When as a university student in the 1960s, I urged a member of Congress to support what was to become the Civil Rights Act, he tried to explain why he couldn’t do that. A legislator needs above all to remain in office, therefore must vote according to that standard, which is more important than all other considerations, he told me. All. Other. Considerations.
Previously I have written that I believe the greatest threat to America is the Republican party. This was not always the case; it is now. If this seems extreme to you, review the behavior of its loyal members over the past decade, and today.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court justice, has died. What will Republicans in power do about this? The soul of this political party is on full display. Who will prevail, the party or us, the people of America?
We, the people, are watching.