On Jeopardy!, if the answer was honesty, integrity, and ethics, the question would be, “What qualities has the United States Senate lost in the last decade?”
Until recently, the Senate was considered to be the greatest deliberative body known to man. Not the British Parliament which was its inspiration, or even the Senate of ancient Greece could eclipse it.
Senators, our senior legislators, were known for their thoughtful and careful actions. Never in the past would they have put ideology, party, or partisan politics ahead of fairness, let alone the country’s best interests.
To get a snapshot of where we are now, you just have to know that mere hours after Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, President Trump and Senate Majority Leader McConnell were crowing that they would force a nominee through the Senate before the election, just 42 days from now. (According to the Congressional Research Service, since 1975, the median time from nomination to confirmation is 71 days).
Allow me to remind you of an inconvenient truth: in February 2016, 265 days before the next election, McConnell deemed it too close to the election to allow President Obama his constitutional prerogative and responsibility of appointing a new Associate Supreme Court justice to fill Antonin Scalia’s seat after his unexpected death. Now, McConnell, whose hypocrisy apparently knows no bounds, has suddenly developed a convenient and severe case of amnesia. Additionally, just months ago, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham—the guy who would shepherd any nominee through the process—said that they would not address a new Supreme Court vacancy before this election. Brimming with self-righteous indignation, he even dared us to “use my words against me.” He too is suffering from profound hypocrisy and selective amnesia. Maybe the drug companies should be working on a shot for hypocrisy in addition to Covid.
Justice Ginsburg made a death-bed request: don’t fill my seat until after the election. She cited no law—only common sense and the spirit of integrity.
This loss of integrity, no matter what happens with Justice Ginsberg‘s seat, is lamentable and looks worryingly permanent. Perhaps because the speed of the leader determines the speed of the pack, the most powerful men in the Senate (that’s right: no women in the Republican leadership) now lie with impunity. Trump lies as casually as he breathes, and there are no consequences. This newfound ability to lie to the public without fear of reproach is not lost on McConnell and Graham. They’re betting they too are immune to public outcry.
Their arguments are pretty weak tea. Among the hypocritical nonsense they’ve floated like so many trial balloons, is that the people elected them just two years ago, so they have a mandate to act just weeks before the next election. And this gem that comes directly from the House of Mirrors: because the presidency and the Senate are controlled by the same party, they should go ahead and jam through a new justice. Huh? Not so eloquent, I know, but really, huh?
There will of course be no consequences for their cynical, undemocratic actions.
The Republicans’ loyalists rarely leave their news silo, so the Constitutional crisis the rest of America is experiencing will never surface through the fog of Fox News and Talk Radio. A cursory glance at FoxNews.com reveals no stories about the unprecedented rush to pack the court with an election looming. Instead, the reader is treated to stories of how the Democrats, should they win the election, plan to pack the court. You wouldn’t even think that you were reading news from the same day, let alone the same planet. It invokes a larger question: how will we ever reconcile anything fairly if we do not have an agreed-upon set of facts?
A nation that does not follow its own rules, is lost. Rewriting the rulebook to serve your political interests is unfair, and no different then moving the goalposts to make your kick easier and your opponent’s kick harder.
There are faint signs of a conscience in the Republican caucus, but Trump, McConnell, and Graham will likely pull off this sham. It’s worth noting that none of these tough guys has the guts or the fight of that tiny little octogenarian who made true the old adage about the size of the dog in the fight having little to do with the size of the of fight in the dog. Anyway you shake it, they broke the mold, and while she’ll inspire generations of young women to come, RBG is truly irreplaceable.
You’d think that a sense of duty to country, the integrity to behave ethically, and the desire to honor a great woman, would be motivation enough.
Who would have ever thought that doing the right thing would be so hard?