The Republican Party has had too many chances to turn itself around and become a party that has lousy policies but, at least, deserves respect. When voting ended at this week’s Senate hearing, Sen. Mitt Romney was the only GOP senator (of three who voted to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court) to stay and applaud.
This is not how things used to be nor is it how things must be. It may be hard to believe, but in 1986, the Senate confirmed Antonin Scalia to the bench by a vote of 98-0. Today, the Republican Party is all about obstruction and insult. The GOP is even struggling when it comes to forming a united opinion of Vladimir Putin, who is quickly showing the world what happens when a depraved heart and a terrorist mind can’t bend reality in his favor.
Years of Donald Trump as President with Mitch McConnell as Senate Majority Leader threatened all that we hold dear and hastened the demise of what some can only now wistfully call “the party of Lincoln.” Even that once-proud identifier got desecrated when Kevin McCarthy, as the House Republican leader, muttered it defensively in 2019 in a shameful attempt to condemn anyone who dare thought Trump’s suggestion that four Democratic representatives should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came” was racist.
Axios’ Jonathan Swan is the latest journalist to attempt the exercise in futility of trying to get Republican leaders to explain themselves. Interviewing McConnell on Thursday, Swan tried to get to the bottom of the contradiction between his public position on Trump’s role in the January 6 attack and his enthusiastic embrace of Trump’s potential candidacy in 2024. After a few attempts, Swan finally urged McConnell to “[h]elp me understand this.”
Swan first commended McConnell for his “extraordinary speech” after the failed insurrection, speaking out “very powerfully against the most powerful figure” in his party. Then, he reminded McConnell that he said Trump’s actions were a “disgraceful dereliction of duty” and that Trump was “practically and morally responsible” for the events of January 6, and he asked McConnell how he can possibly say he would “absolutely” support Trump just two weeks later.
McConnell’s answer was nothing short of maniacal. The words “I think I have an obligation to support the nominee of my party” fell easily off his tongue. When an exasperated Swan challenged McConnell for appearing to “hold two concurrent conflicting positions,” McConnell simply denied any inconsistency, then concluded the conversation by asserting that he stands by both statements.
Today’s Republican Party is an appalling disaster that will only continue its downward spiral between now and November’s midterms. When we call for a blue wave, it’s not a game of color war nor is it even merely about a polite difference in ideology. We need a blue wave because, in our current political reality, Democrats have become nothing less than the oxygen of our democracy.