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viewpoint

Hypocrisy in the legislature

| Friday, September 21, 2018

Let’s cut through the pretense; all of the political levers being pulled this week are directly related to the confirmation hearings in the Senate. We have four liberals on the Supreme Court and four conservatives.  It doesn’t matter that Justice is supposed to be blind, and that judges are supposed to check their bias at the door, because we have a deeply partisan Supreme Court at this moment in history.
Who gets to question and confirm a Supreme Court nominee matters?  If both the upper chamber and the administration are of the same party, a Supreme Court nominee can exist politically on an extreme end of the Overton window.  We need to ask ourselves, is this OK?  Do we want firebrands on the Supreme Court, or do we want people who are centrist bi-partisans? Do we want diplomats, or extremists? Either could be justified. But we need to decide, in order to be consistent.
Politicians get elected. Anyone who holds a position of power (especially with no term limits) need to be accountable to the people for their decisions, or else we have people who are above the law.  As we say time and again, the head of the executive branch is not above the law.  But what about the heads of the other co-equal branches?
The current head of the Senate — Mitch McConnell — has had an abysmal approval rating, dropping as low as 19 percent. Let me say that again.  The leader of a co-equal branch of government has an approval rating that is half of Donald Trump’s approval rating. Unacceptable.  This can only happen when a deeply, deeply partisan state sends a person to Washington, who gets elected leader by their partisan co-workers. Unacceptable.
We cannot have partisan leaders who are not held responsible for their actions. That is the difference between democracy and less favorable forms of government.  Who watches the watchers?  The people.
We hold our government accountable. We vote. We protest. We campaign. The only people who would let government employees go unaccountable are unequivocally demonstrating cowardice.
Cowardice can be defined as a lack of firmness of purpose. Perhaps they’re not cowards by the literal definition, because they do have a very firm purpose — themselves. Cowardice and corruption go hand in hand. And they’re both detected by hypocrisy.
So what do we do with cowards? Throughout most of human history, they were “shot at dawn.” Fortunately, we’ve come a long way in the past few decades: we no longer have drumhead court-martials or government show trials, or so I thought.
We have an executive branch that condemns with spurious, spontaneous and conflicting statements. And we have a legislature who refuses to hold a fair hearing for one of their own. That is the definition of hypocrisy.
We’re talking about a lifetime appointment (it could be 40 years). We’re talking about giving a person one of the most powerful offices in not just the United States of America, but the entire world. Why are we rushing one of the most consequential moments in our history? Two words: midterm elections.
Two years ago, we heard the leader of the Senate famously advocating for Supreme Court justice confirmation hearings to be put on hold until after the elections. But now that the shoe is on the other foot, he’s completely flip-flopped. The majority party in the upper house is trying to ham-fist this appointment through the legislature as fast as possible, by all means necessary. Hypocrisy.
Nick Myers
class of 2011
Sep. 20

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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