By Elijah Lutz, Web Editor
The newly elected Senate Democratic Leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, wrote a letter to his Republican counterpart, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on Jan. 9. In this letter, Schumer told McConnell that Senate Democrats expected President Trump’s cabinet nominees to meet certain standards. Among these standards included an FBI background check, a letter of review from the Office of Government Ethics, financial disclosure statements and appropriate committee questionnaires. Schumer stated that these must be met before any floor discussions can be had on the president-elect’s nominees.
This letter was written in response to a request by Senate Republicans to fast-track certain nominees. It was also retaliation, in part, to some Senate Republicans telling their Democratic counterparts that they should stop complaining about different issues they found with the nominees and not delay the confirmation hearings.
Political hypocrisy is so common now that it doesn’t incense us the way that it should.
“[Democratic Senators have] made pretty clear they intend to slow down and resist [the confirmation hearings] and that doesn’t provide a lot of incentive or demonstrate good faith to negotiate changes,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn to Politico. “So I think we’re going to just be plowing ahead.”
Only, here’s the thing: this letter was an edited version of another letter written in Feb. 2009. It was originally written by Republican Leader McConnell, addressed to then- Democratic Leader, former Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada. The letter was not changed in wording; the only edits made were the letterhead, the addressee and the sender. The letter was originally written to the Democratic leader after he requested that the Senate fast-track some nominees of President Obama’s cabinet. The Republicans wanted, at that time, what Democrats are asking for now. My, how the tables have turned.
This is not the only form of political hypocrisy we see now that control of the government has changed. As the president is now a Republican, the vacancy on the Supreme Court will be filled by whomever the president chooses to nominate. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont revealed in a CNN Town Hall last week that the Democratic Senate Leadership has considered doing now what the Senate Republicans have done for nearly a year and not allow any hearings for any nominees who the president names.
Political hypocrisy is so common now that it doesn’t incense us the way that it should. It all depends on how the situation is presented to us. Democrats, especially since they took their massive beating in November, have started to resort to many of the same tactics that the Republicans took after the result of 2008. There are reasons given for such actions: Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, so the election was stolen by an unfair system; the Russians interfered in our democratic process, so the president won with an unfair advantage; etc. Had the Democrats won the presidency, and somehow both houses of Congress, I would have expected the Republicans to repeat 2008’s negative response to the election.
This is what our government has become. Our political system is plagued with hypocrites who use manipulative tactics based on seemingly the only factor that has any meaning in the American government anymore: whether or not their party is in majority control. It is shameful to hear that my party’s leadership is considering the idea of taking the same actions they have complained about for 310 days. It is equally as shameful that the Republicans are now doing the same thing that they complained about Democrats doing in Feb. 2009. And they do this all in the name of “helping the interests of the American people.”
Don’t. Don’t use me, an American citizen, as an excuse for your political tactics. It’s no wonder that so many people feel the system is against them, that their voice isn’t worth anything. What we hear during this nonsense is, “the American people want us to be petulant children,” rather than, “the American people want us to do what we were elected to do: govern.” This is the reality of our system now, and it will take some real change to make a difference. However, with re-election rates in both the House and the Senate reaching over 90 percent, it’s unlikely we’ll stop seeing the same destructive patterns reemerge. Seemingly nothing has changed in the past eight years — other than who is doing the complaining.