I would have told you last week that I could not imagine our country any more polarized. But that was so yesterday.
This week we now know the split is even greater because of the controversy over how and when the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court left by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg should be filled.
President Trump said he will name a nominee by Friday or Saturday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged his colleagues in a private memo to keep their powder dry. “This is not the time to prematurely lock yourselves into a position you may regret.”
However, McConnell has already publicly said “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.” But he did not specify a timeline.
Democrats are apoplectic. They are still steamed about McConnell’s refusal to take up President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the high court before the 2016 election, and now it appears McConnell has flipped his position.
McConnell may be a political contortionist, but the award for pretzel logic goes to Lindsey Graham. Four years ago, the South Carolina Republican demanded to be on the record as promising not to act on filling a court vacancy if the primary process for the next election had already started.
Graham now says he had a change of heart over the way Democrats behaved during the nomination hearings for Brett Kavanaugh. “They (Democrats) chose to try to destroy Brett Kavanaugh’s life to keep the Supreme Court seat open,” Graham tweeted. “You reap what you sow.”
Democrats are not immune to hypocrisy. They have now pivoted to demanding that the appointment wait until after the election even though four years ago, they held the exact opposite position.
Granted, some of the circumstances are different now than 2016 and each side will use whatever nuance they can find to justify their position. Democrats and Republicans are quickly fine-tuning their talking points for the upcoming battle royal.
But I will subscribe to Occam’s Razor—the simplest explanation is most likely to be correct. Republicans will try to force through a nominee because they have the opportunity. I suspect Democrats would do the same if given the chance.
We can point out the hypocrisy, but when our leaders can lie without shame, then the result is that the rest of us become more cynical and angrier.
Let us go back to Graham’s comment: “You reap what you sow.” Is revenge now the substitute for governance? If so, and it certainly feels like it, then we are in for even more tribalism.