Charlie Pierce came across this little bit of anti-democracy plotting from Mitch McConnell.
Something interesting happened on Hugh Hewitt’s electric radio program. (I know, if you need to sit down, feel free.) Mitch McConnell fired on Fort Sumter, shot the Archduke, and bombed Pearl Harbor. In the figurative political sense, of course. From MSN:
“I think it’s highly unlikely – in fact, no, I don’t think either party, if it were different from the president, would confirm a Supreme Court nominee in the middle of an election,” McConnell told radio host Hugh Hewitt.McConnell was asked if a GOP-controlled Senate would take the same tack in 2024 that it did in 2016, when they refused to give Merrick Garland, former President Obama’s final Supreme Court pick, a hearing or a vote on his nomination to fill the vacancy created by the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.Republicans subsequently confirmed Amy Coney Barrett, then-President Trump’s third Supreme Court nominee, in 2020, locking in a 6-3 conservative majority. The move, which sparked howls from Democrats, set a new record for how closely before a presidential election a Senate has confirmed a Supreme Court nominee.
McConnell declined to say what Republicans would do if a justice stepped down in mid-2023 and Republican controlled the Senate. “We’ll have to wait and see what happens,” McConnell said, asked by Hewitt if the nominee would get a fair shot.
Stated plainly, Mitch McConnell never will allow a Democratic president to successfully nominate a justice to the Supreme Court as long as he has the power to block it. And I guarantee you that whoever succeeds him as Senate Republican leader will not, either. The Republican Party’s war on the American democratic republic is now declared and open. This is saying the loud part out loud.
There are only three options remaining that I can see:
1. Nuke the filibuster immediately.
2. A completely improbable and massive Democratic sweep in the 2022 midterms.
3. Nuke the Senate.
If you’re not willing to at least threaten Options 1 and 3, then Option 2 will remain out of reach. And Option 1 is still the more peaceable solution, no matter what Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema think. On that radio program, McConnell was double-dog-daring the Democratic majority to do it. Call his damn bluff for once. I mean, geez Louise, even the Washington Post‘s Fred Hiatt is Deeply Troubled.
It’s bad enough that most Republicans continue to defend Trump’s slander on American democracy and use it as a pretext to suppress the vote, instead of looking for ways to appeal to more voters. It’s even scarier that they are trying to write themselves an insurance policy so that, if their vote suppression strategy fails in 2024, they can nonetheless reclaim power. That should be unacceptable to every patriotic American.
OK, Fred. Here’s some homework. Find out why “most Republicans” find this strategy so everlastingly tasty. I realize some of us have about a 30-year head start on you, but it’s nice to have you on board. As for the Democrats, it’s time to show us all that you understand the threat to the republic posed by those who are now declared enemies of it. Listen to Euripides’ Ion, who reminds us that, “Ten soldiers wisely led will beat a hundred without a head.” You’re a battered, timid, occasionally miserable political party, but you’re also what’s left between our democratic republic and whatever horror comes next.
I take McConnell at his word. I firmly believe he will try this, and if the Democrats are in the minority, he will succeed. And at that point, the jig really will be up.