GOP obstructionism seems to have no bounds

For some time now, the Republican party has taken the position that if they cannot win the presidency, they will basically bring government to a halt. This was explicitly stated by senate majority leader Mitch McConnell when he vowed in 2009 to use that strategy to make Barack Obama a one-term president. That particular goal of course failed but the idea of obstructionism has persisted.

The refusal to even consider the nomination of Merrick Garland for a position on the US Supreme Court was another example. While they had hopes of winning the election in November, they said that the new president should have the opportunity to nominate justice Scalia’s replacement because that would more accurately represent the ‘will of the people’. (Note: Whenever politicians refer to the will of the people, you should be on your guard.) Now that Hillary Clinton seems likely to win, the goal posts have shifted and some Republicans are suggesting that they will not approve any nominee that she submits and are even arguing that the court should function with fewer justices than the norm.

Lying Ted Cruz, trying to resurrect a comeback from the ruins of his presidential ambitions, seems to be the leader of this movement.

Asked about the Supreme Court at a campaign event, Cruz said, “There will be plenty of time for debate on that issue, there is long historical precedent for a Supreme Court with fewer justices, just recently Justice [Stephen] Breyer observed that the vacancy is not impacting the ability of the court to do its job, that’s a debate that we are going to have.”

Cruz’s statement is but the latest in a spate of outrageous threats to come from the GOP. First, John McCain made a similar—but in retrospect, modest-seeming—statement that Senate Republicans would be united against any Clinton nominee, a claim he subsequently moderated.

And it’s not just the Supreme Court. The Senate has quietly stonewalled judicial appointments throughout the system, causing a “judicial emergency,” a term not of political rhetoric but of a federal designation of reality. The term refers to courts with judicial caseloads are so high that they endanger access to justice. The number was 12 at the beginning of 2015 and is 36 today.

It’s because Senate Republicans have confirmed only 18 of President Obama’s district court nominees since 2014, compared with 58 confirmed by the Democrat-led senate in President George W. Bush’s final years. Egged on by millions of dollars of dark money that traces back to Republican insiders Ann Corkery and funders Paul Singer and the Templeton Foundation, the Senate has crippled the federal judiciary as a whole.

And Cruz, of course, has been right at the center of it. He knows how many judicial emergencies there are, and how the Supreme Court itself has been affected. He’s just lying.

Other Republicans are signing on to Cruz’s plan.

But even such extreme obstructionism will not be enough to satisfy the angry base of the party. If Clinton becomes president, it would not surprise me in the least if a movement to impeach her begins almost immediately. The Republicans are prisoners to the Trump movement that has taken up his chant that she is a crook and should be in jail. The spineless Republican elected officials are not going to be able to resist the pressure to try and bring her down using any means at their disposal, short of a military coup.

What we are witnessing is a breakdown of the norms of government. The US system of checks and balances was based on the idea that compromises could and should be arrived at between the different branches of government and that over time the electoral swings would even things out. I am not sure where the current trend will lead but I fear it is not going to end well.


  1. Ogvorbis: I have proven my humanity and can now comment! says

    I agree with you that the GOP will start impeachment hearings. Probably on inauguration day.

    Last night, I game 7. And the political adverts were flying fast and furious. The Democratic adverts were either allowing Trump to damn himself with his own words or actual policy suggestions — here’s what I want to do. The GOP adverts were trying to terrorize the public — vote for Toomey or ISIS will invade your bathroom — make it look like Clinton (and McGinty) is a criminal — she got RICH!!! and had to have broken the law to get RICH!!! — or, for Toomey’s advert in his campaign against McGinty, promising that if he is re-elected, he will obstruct Clinton and make sure she cannot do anything.

    The GOP has been the party of NO for twenty years (well, before that, also, but the latest iteration dates to Bill Clilnton’s years), but in the past, they used code words. Now they are flat out promising to say no to everything and everything Clinton wants.


    And yet, their base will lap it up.

  2. Reginald Selkirk says

    Lying Ted Cruz, trying to resurrect a comeback from the ruins of his presidential ambitions…

    Cruz is only 45 years old. He has no decency and no shame. He is not going away on his own volition, ever. We are going to have Ted Cruz to kick around for decades to come. He is probably already thinking about 2020, and beyond.

  3. says

    they will basically bring government to a halt

    That may not be an entirely bad outcome. Except that it seems to have expanded presidential power, rather than reducing it. Eventually, the executive branch will decide to just bypass congress entirely on something important -- like they have already done by committing the US into wars in Syria and Libya -- when congressional obstructionism on the budget gets bypassed, who needs congress?

  4. says

    The Republicans are prisoners to the Trump movement that has taken up his chant that she is a crook and should be in jail.

    In all fairness to Trump (which isn’t much), I believe Trump took up their chant. He has just been more brash with the chant. Benghazi “investigations,” after all, did not happen because of Trump.

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