A Broken System Only Because…

It may have been somewhat overshadowed by the war in Ukraine but the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings to consider Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination for the Supreme Court illustrated just where America is today. Spoiler alert: It’s not a good place or the one the Founders envisioned.

The problem has been brewing for some time but the last few years have made it abundantly clear. The Founders set up systems with the assumption that the vast majority of Senators, if not all, would be patriotic Americans who would put the country’s best interest ahead of their own. In banking we called a similar concept fiduciary responsibility and it was drilled into me from the hiring interview on. Too many in today’s version of the once great Republican party are much more concerned with power and pleasing, or at least not angering, their de facto leader Donald Trump.

I won’t talk about the hearings much. However, I would be remiss if I neglected to mention how much my bad angel enjoyed watching Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Judge Jackson “castrate” Ted Cruz. For a supposedly smart man he frequently does play the fool!

Today I want to concentrate on the committee vote on whether to advance the nomination to the full Senate. It was 11-11 and fell strictly along party lines. (For all you progressives out there who want to kick Joe Manchin out of the party, can you now see the folly of your ways?) The Republicans’ statements before casting their committee votes went largely along the lines of: While she is supremely qualified in education, personally and in experience I’m voting against her. I know that doesn’t make sense and that the vast majority of Americans, including registered Republicans, thought she should be confirmed; nonetheless you read the preceding sentence correctly.

The 11 “geniuses” were: Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina (who had voted to confirm Jackson to her current position earlier in this congressional session), Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Josh Hawley of Missouri, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Mike Lee of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Thom Tillis of North Carolina.

Graham threatened that if the Republicans take control of the Senate, and by virtue of that both the Committee and the confirmation process, someone like Jackson would not even get a hearing. He and Mitch McConnell will pervert the process into one that completely disregards the voters’ will. They really don’t believe in American democracy in the first place!

Don’t think this is an idle threat or simply political rhetoric playing to the base; history tells us otherwise. Think back to Mitch McConnell, then partnered with Grassley, denying Merrick Garland a hearing or Mitch and Graham pushing through Amy Coney Barrett. Any way you slice it, one, if not both, of those never should have happened and wouldn’t if today’s Republican leadership were American democracy loving patriots.

I once had a boss who always told me that when I brought him a problem to also bring a suggested solution. Lonnie was smart because if he instituted my suggestion he had automatic buy-in. I don’t know if you will be on board, but the only solution I see is to elect so few Republicans (just the courageous and patriotic ones) that they cannot control anything until their party cleans its own house.

The process is fine; it is the current players who have broken it. Time to replace the players.

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