Back in November of 2014 while Senator Mitch McConnell was still Senate Minority Leader he said that just because there is a divided government “I don’t think it means [the American people] don’t want us to do anything.” He then vowed that once he became the Senate Majority Leader he would fix the Senate so that it operates again. The senator who had worked so hard to break the Senate in an effort to fulfill his commitment to make President Barack Obama a one term president was a changed man! Or was he?
Within hours of finding out that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia had died, Senate Majority Leader McConnell announced publicly that the vacancy left by Justice Scalia should not be filled until after the 2016 presidential election; because, he said, “the American people should have a voice in the selection of the next Supreme Court Justice.” He was officially back!
My thoughts are that he was not back but that he had never left; he was never a changed man. Instead, he had gone into covert mode or – to put it in terms of what the modern world has long accepted as the ‘legitimate’ business and method used by those involved in the spy business of deceiving people, ‘deep cover.’ However, the fact is that it wasn’t quite as scary – although just as duplicitous – because it was solely political smoke and mirrors and politicians are seldom held to account for this sort of thing even when they are caught red-handed. He was trying to dupe the American people.
Anyway, the only way that the word ‘back’ could appropriately apply would be to say that now he was ‘back’ to openly doing what he and his fellow Washington Republicans know how to do best; point fingers and obstruct. To justify Senator McConnell’s decision to not allow the Senate to consider any candidate to fill this vacancy even before President Obama had offered up a single nomination, all of the Republican presidential candidates, Republican senators – including Senator Chuck Grassley who is the chairman of the Judiciary Committee – and other Republican leaders began to publicly state that the president should not nominate a replacement. They said that the person that replaced him should make that nomination.
Only time will tell if this line that Senate Majority Leader McConnell has drawn in the sand is a serious one, which if crossed will only bring President Obama a humiliating defeat or if he will reconsider his preemptive move to prevent the president from moving forward on his own announcement that he will nominate someone to replace Justice Scalia. Since the day that he was elected the Republicans have completely loathe this president and worked tirelessly in their effort to assure that there would be an asterisk by his name in the history books that would somehow identify him in the eyes of their children and as many of the American people as possible as someone who was not actually a legitimate president.
Why would these elected officials choose to do this rather than focus on conducting the business of the American people and govern them based on the Constitution that they constantly tout? No one really knows beyond a doubt what the answer to this question is except those elected officials themselves. However, with the way that they have treated President Obama from the time that he was elected and the unprecedented disrespect that they have shown for him and the Office, if there is more than one reason why this has occurred, high on that list is the fact that he is African American. By making such a strong accusation it is only fair that I reiterate that only those elected officials themselves know beyond a doubt if such an accusation is warranted and/or correct.
President Obama would likely be the first to say that I am wrong even if that proclamation was engendered more by his heart than his head because, from the time that he was elected, he so obviously longed to bridge that gap that separated white people and people of color based primarily on the color of the other’s skin, which thereby prevents them from hearing each other even when they espouse the same principles and values. Politics as usual too often motivate our politicians rather than the collective voice of the people whom they are supposed to represent.
Senator McConnell is obligated to the Constitution, the American people, those others who support him (e. g. his donors and fellow senators) and his Party. As Senate Majority Leader he has the additional responsibility of using good judgment to determine, whenever all of those just mentioned do not unanimously agree on how to move forward, which of those groups and/or individuals should be subordinated to the other in order for him to effectively do his job and conduct the people’s business.
The system is rigged in favor of the rich and powerful and all politicians know this but they do not have the courage to work to fix it even when they know that the odds are that a fair system will make a massive improvement in America and in the lives of her citizens. In addition to considering the desires of their rich and powerful donors politicians must also navigate the pressure that is applied to them by special interest groups and their constituents back home.
But despite all of the pressures that our elected officials have to deal with we must still demand that they do the job that they were elected to do. We should always give them credit for doing their job and reward them by voting them back into office when they are up for reelection. On the other hand, we must always hold each and every one of them to account for the things that they fail to do by getting the facts and voting them out of office when they are up for reelection if what they failed to do cannot be justified to our satisfaction.
Yes, Senator Mitch McConnell’s hollow words of reconciliation that he made prior to becoming Senate Majority Leader were indeed just that and this is being borne out by his decision to deny the American people the right to a nine member US Supreme Court in order to secure political gain for himself and the Republican Party. You can, and should, read the article that I wrote in 2014 on Senator McConnell’s words of reconciliation and you can do that by clicking here. Should you choose to read it; you will find that it provides additional insight into this article.
Senator McConnell’s decision casts a bright light on the pecking order of politics versus the will of the people in our political system. The obvious order for him is politics first and then the will of the people. As voters we, along with these politicians, bear some responsibility for the untenable mess that our political system is in. The good news is that we can still do our part to help fix it but we must begin to fix it now.
We can do this by getting informed, doing our part to select a candidate to run in the 2016 general election and then voting, based on the issues and who can and will best address them, in the 2016 presidential election. But we cannot stop there if we really want to fix the system and make things better. Instead, we must get engaged and remain engaged in the election process from the local levels all the way up to the federal level because they all ultimately impact on our country and our way of life (e.g. Flint Michigan’s water problem).
So whether you are a Democrat, Republican or Independent be sure to always vote. And always remember, your vote is the most important one of all…unless you don’t use it!
Eulus Dennis – author, Operation Rubik’s Cube and Living Between The Line