The death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia last week sets up an interesting look at why many people who self-identify as Republicans have no trust whatsoever in the party they self-identify with.
Scalia was, without a doubt, the most prominent conservative on the Court.
The Democrat Party, in their wettest of dreams, would like him to be replaced with a doctrinaire liberal who would vote to uphold things like affirmative action, EPA regulations that kill coal-fired power plants, abortion on demand, open borders and the rest of the left’s laundry list.
But Supreme Court appointments are only nominated by the President.
They must be confirmed by the Senate. And, unlike earlier in President Obama’s terms, the Senate is under the control of the Republican Party. Sort of. (We’ll get to that in a minute.)
You see, the very same people who nominally “control” the Senate are also the reason why Donald Trump holds a large lead in the polls. The average voter trusts a used car dealer more than their Senator—of either party.
And while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell immediately said that the Senate would not consider a new appointment during an election year, the question reverberating amongst the party base is: do you really believe him?
Frankly, the only thing that will keep McConnell honest is the fact that should he and his fellow establishment Republicans break ranks and confirm an Obama nomination, it will be the last thing they ever do as a Senator.
If the party’s long-suffering base is willing to nominate Trump—and it clearly is—then it is not a very big stretch to assume that very same base will destroy the careers of any Senator responsible for replacing Scalia with a liberal and changing the balance of the court.
Essentially, it is time for the Republicans to learn to play by Harry Reid’s rules. Which is to say that when Reid was the Majority Leader and he wanted something, there WEREN’T any rules. Harry was only too happy to cram Obamacare through the Senate on a budget reconciliation act and bypass the filibuster. Harry was only too happy to change the rules so a cloture vote on lower level nominations would only require a simple majority.
So, given the playing field that Reid, a mean, nasty and not very smart smash-mouth political player, invented, it should be a fairly simple maneuver to hold up a vote on Scalia’s replacement until after an election.
But that assumes that McConnell is smarter than Reid and more reliable.
And that’s why the base is more than a little worried. When Trump talks about America being run by stupid people, he’s not only talking about Obama and his ilk.
It’s not like Republicans have covered themselves with glory. Especially in the Senate.
As New Jersey Governor Chris Christie so eloquently put it before he dropped out of the race for President—“when you’re a governor of a state… they expect you to plow the snow. They expect you to get the schools open. And when the worst natural disaster in your state’s history hits you, they expect you to rebuild their state.”
On the other hand, when you’re a Senator, you talk. And talk is cheap. It’s the best job most Senators could ever get, and frankly, most Senators could not hold a job in the private sector with the salary and perks they have. So, they will do almost anything to keep the job.
The public is not stupid.
They know this, and many simply do not trust anyone in the Senate with good reason.
So, despite what McConnell said, the jury is out on what the GOP Senate will actually do.
If they stay the course, great. People will gain some faith in the GOP Senate, and it might reflect itself in the election results.
If they fold like a cheap suit—as they have in the recent past—then the result could and should destroy the Republican Party.