Forget what the politicians say. Watch what they do.
There are civics lessons being taught every day in this country, if one is willing to pay attention and keep an open mind.
This one is an old truth proven anew pretty much every time a significant issue arises: Politicians are hopeless hypocrites.
The U.S. Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a classic case in point.
Let us pause for a moment to recognize a truly great civil liberties lawyer who went on to become a great member of the highest court in the land.
Now let us pause another moment to condemn both Republicans and Democrats for their abject lack of grace and basic good manners, not to mention their ghoulishness, for charging into partisan trench warfare over the seat before Ginsburg’s body had grown cold. It’s hard to imagine a clearer example of how low the partisan warriors have dragged our great nation.
Back to the subject of hypocrisy.
When President Barack Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland in early 2016 to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia, majority Senate Republicans immediately snuffed the deal under the proclaimed doctrine that, in an election year, a replacement should never be considered until after the people rendered their verdict in fall elections. Garland was not granted the courtesy of a hearing. Donald Trump won the presidency and filled the court seat. Afterwards, several key Republican senators went on the record acknowledging the Garland precedent and saying that was the new standard so they would not consider replacing a Supreme Court justice in any other election year. Some Republican senators were even more specific than that, saying that if a court opening occurred in the last year of Trump’s first term they would refuse to consider an appointment until the election was over.
That was then. This is now. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promises a floor vote on Trump’s nominee, scarcely a month out from the Nov. 3 election. As for those Republican senators who vowed after 2016 to adhere to the never-in-an-election-year pledge? Short memories. Now they say it’s in the Constitution—and it is—that a president has the authority to nominate and the Senate has the authority to approve. In other words, they’ll approve a Trump appointee simply because they can.
This seems like a fair assumption, too: Republicans say if Democrats, who are howling now, had the White House and a Senate majority, they would do exactly the same. And this much is certain now, if similar circumstances ever repeat when Democrats are in control they darn sure will turn a deaf ear to any Republican complaints. Payback always comes, sooner or later.
The moral of the story is this: Republicans are proving today there was no principle involved in 2016. They set out to steal Obama’s nomination opportunity, and they did. Watch what they do, not what they say. And let’s not be silly or naive; Democrats probably would have done the same thing. All the partisans—on both sides—care about is power and control.
The people, the voters, are relegated to mere bit roles in the drama. Make no mistake: Hypocritical politicians will choose power every time over the people’s love. The only way to punch back—in the regrettable absence of a viable third party—is to regularly vote one set of rascals out and the other set in, so neither grabs power for long.