It has been some time since the Republican Party in the United States ceased to be a serious and responsible political entity. The knee-jerk ferocity of its opposition to President Obama would be almost comical if it didn’t rely on strands of barely-buried racism and lead to a state of almost total gridlock in the federal government. The absurdity of its claims about “government” not working would be amusing if the party wasn’t working so hard to bring its pernicious lie to life by sabotaging the working of our state.
The GOP’s response to the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is a further illustration of the depths to which they have sunk. Apparently under the misapprehension that a President only exercises authority for the first three years of his four-year term, the leadership of the Republican Party is Congress has committed itself to blocking any justice nominated by President Obama.
Individual Democrats have invoked this kind of silliness (known as the “Thurmond rule”, it has no actual basis in law) before, albeit less egregiously. But for the Republican Party to declare in a single voice that the President has no right to make appointments when he still has eleven months to serve is a very clear demonstration of how little respect they have for the most clear cut elements of our constitution and how accustomed they have grown to being able to sabotage the functioning of our government.
I have significant problems with President Obama’s foreign policy, and have been frustrated by his incrementalist approach. But I have a lot of appreciation for how he has conducted himself in the face of the vicious, personal onslaught launched by the Republican Party that has encouraged its supporters to talk about the President and his family in racist and slightly unhinged terms.
I hope he will choose a strong, independent-minded justice who recognizes the dangers of allowing economic and political power to accrue to an ever smaller number of people.