Monday, February 15, 2016

Coming Court Fight Reveals an Unhinged GOP

The coming fight over the replacement of Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court reveals the full extent of the sickness and insanity that now pervades in the Republican Party.  From the very scary Ted Cruz fanning right wing lunatic conspiracy theories to the majority leader in the U.S. Senate vowing that the Senate will not perform its constitutional duty of confirm a nominee after "advising and consenting" with the president, what we see is behavior one would expect in a rabid dog or escapee from a mental institution.  And such behavior in the GOP has become the norm, not the exception.  A column in the New York Times looks at how we got to this disturbing state of affairs.  Here are highlights:
Once upon a time, the death of a Supreme Court justice wouldn’t have brought America to the edge of constitutional crisis. But that was a different country, with a very different Republican Party. In today’s America, with today’s G.O.P., the passing of Antonin Scalia has opened the doors to chaos.

In principle, losing a justice should cause at most a mild disturbance in the national scene. After all, the court is supposed to be above politics. So when a vacancy appears, the president should simply nominate, and the Senate approve, someone highly qualified and respected by all.
In reality, of course, things were never that pure. Justices have always had known political leanings, and the process of nomination and approval has often been contentious. Still, there was nothing like the situation we face now, in which Republicans have more or less unanimously declared that President Obama has no right even to nominate a replacement for Mr. Scalia — and no, the fact that Mr. Obama will leave soon doesn’t make it O.K. (Justice Kennedy was appointed during Ronald Reagan’s last year in office.)

And there’s no telling how long that situation may last. If a Democrat wins the White House but the G.O.P. holds the Senate, when if ever do you think Republicans would be willing to confirm anyone the new president nominates?
How did we get into this mess?  At one level the answer is the ever-widening partisan divide. Polarization has measurably increased in every aspect of American politics, from congressional voting to public opinion, with an especially dramatic rise in “negative partisanship” — distrust of and disdain for the other side.

But simply pointing to rising partisanship as the source of our crisis, while not exactly wrong, can be deeply misleading. . . .  it’s really important not to engage in false symmetry: only one of our two major political parties has gone off the deep end.

Even if you’re disappointed in what President Obama accomplished, he substantially raised taxes on the rich and dramatically expanded the social safety net; significantly tightened financial regulation; encouraged and oversaw a surge in renewable energy; moved forward on diplomacy with Iran.

Any Republican would undo all of that, and move sharply in the opposite direction. If anything, the consensus among the presidential candidates seems to be that George W. Bush didn’t cut taxes on the rich nearly enough, and should have made more use of torture. . . . . When we talk about partisanship, then, we’re not talking about arbitrary teams, we’re talking about a deep divide on values and policy.
[C]ompare last week’s Democratic debate with Saturday’s Republican debate. Need I say more? Beyond that, there are huge differences in tactics and attitudes. Democrats never tried to extort concessions by threatening to cut off U.S. borrowing and create a financial crisis; Republicans did. Democrats don’t routinely deny the legitimacy of presidents from the other party; Republicans did it to both Bill Clinton and Mr. Obama. 

So how does this get resolved? One answer could be a Republican sweep — although you have to ask, did the men on that stage Saturday convey the impression of a party that’s ready to govern? Or maybe you believe — based on no evidence I’m aware of — that a populist rising from the left is ready to happen any day now. But if divided government persists, it’s really hard to see how we avoid growing chaos.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the descent of the GOP directly correlates with the rise of the Christofascists within the GOP and the party elites' decision to court religious extremists and racists.  Once the party of education that respected knowledge and reason, the GOP has become the party that embraces ignorance and rejects science and reason.  Its as if we are seeing Rome invaded and sacked by the Visigoths.  And the so-called GOP establishment brought this on the nation.

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