“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president,” stated Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Contrast this statement with McConnell’s 2009 comment: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”
These two statements act as bookends to Sen. McConnell’s views on President Obama. McConnell also noted in the same interview that he hoped Obama would fail.
One thing can be said for the senator and for the Republican Party in general during the last seven-plus years: they have consistently attempted to limit the power of President Obama.
One question puzzles me: Why do McConnell and the Republican Party have such antipathy toward the president?
In my research, several answers were given for this attitude. From Husna Haq’s Dec. 16, 2015, Christian Science Monitor article, “Why Senator Lindsey Graham Says Dislike for Obama Is Unhealthy” are some summarized points and quotes:
1 – “An increasingly partisan news media and blogosphere that amplifies conflict and contention is partly to blame,” says Gallup’s Jeffrey Jones. That, added to a 24-hour news cycle, creates the need to attract viewers with extreme partisan views.
2 – The increase of nonwhite voters has grown since the 1960s and will continue to grow. In the 2012 presidential elections Republican candidate Mitt Romney got 10 percent of the nonwhite vote while 45 percent of Obama’s votes came from nonwhites.
“‘The growing dependence of Democratic candidates and office-holders on nonwhite voters, along with a Republican strategy of appealing to white voters unhappy with the Democratic Party’s racial and economic liberalism,’ has served to further entrench the divide…”
3 – “Fear and anger are likely causes of much of this sorting,” the Christian Science Monitor’s Peter Grier writes. “Many voters aren’t so much trying to elect their candidates as block the ones from the other party, whom they see as a danger to the republic.”
Members of both parties tend to see those of the other parties to be evil and unpatriotic. These attitudes heighten the intensity of the campaign rhetoric.
Two questions still puzzle me: What has been the effect of this consistent obstructionist on the Republican Party these past seven years? And, what has been the impact on the nation?
The answer to both questions is that the Republican focus on obstructing President Obama has hurt both the nation and their party. It has focused the attention on personality rather than on patriotism and compromise. It has caused Congressional gridlock and extreme partisanship.
There is an ancient Hebrew proverb that states that when you dig a pit to cause your enemy to fall into, you will fall into it yourself. Republican obstructionism as symbolized by Mitch McConnell has fractured the party and made the leadership helpless to stop the Donald Trump juggernaut. Trump is the Frankenstein monster its creators can no longer control.
Husna Haq and the Pew Research Poll offer us some hope: Right now the extremes of both parties are the most vocal. The average American voter is much more moderate and the divisions are much overblown.
Eventually, the majority will undo most of the damage to the nation by voting in someone less demagogic and manipulative. In other words, the American people will have the last word, not McConnell and his obstructionist supporters.