On July 4th, the US celebrates Independence Day. This day is a patriotic reminder of when the United States declared its independence from Great Briton and set upon (at that time) an unprecedented experiment in self government. Based upon English traditions, the founding fathers outlined a way of governing, so called “democracy”, one man-one vote, a nation ruled by law, and a whole host of individual freedoms (like free speech and the ban of any State religion). On this day, it is always appropriate to assess how well the country is doing.
Americans today know the country through 20th and 21st Century eyes. That is to say, the past trials and tribulations where a young country grew in fits and starts is less well understood while the victories in World War II has masked the country’s divided resolve to enter the conflict in the first place.
History is a much under appreciated subject.
So, when events unfold in today’s America, one could ask whether something similar had occurred before. If so, laws, rules, or tradition, however, would taken precedent and any crisis could be resolved in a broadly acceptable manner. In third world countries, similar disagreements often lead to armed conflict.
This year an excursion from tradition has taken place, and Americans would do well to think about it this Independence Day. This excision involves the GOP controlled Senate’s refusal to consider the Supreme Court nomination of Merritt Garland. In Republican short term thinking, “advise and consent” now means “consent if the nominee is like us and forget about whether the person is qualified”.
This is a serious break with the Constitution’s intent and a slap in the face for the democratic tradition of fairness.
Independence is not an absolute condition. Rather independence is a condition or state of being which reflects a functioning environment free of illegal restraints. Attempting to claim that “the next President” should get to choose the next Supreme Court nominee is without precedent, without legal direction, and without a spirit of fairness.
The GOP’s (read Mitch McConnell) decision for no hearings and no vote begins a new “tradition”, one more similar to less independent countries. Sadly, this new “tradition” adds another step on a slippery slope leading to a much more divisive, less democratic nation. Hardly something to be celebrated.
The irony of McConnell’s decision is that most of the country sees it for what it represents, a Republican Party composed of many “petty, power seeking, and non-democratic” factions, who, as a combined political party, are in fact unfit to govern.
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