Whether or not the GOP Senate and House technically have the right to block any nominee President Obama sends them, this move–if they choose to stick with it–would almost certainly guarantee a Democrat wins the 2016 general election. Congratulations Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton–either of you will make a great Commander-in-Chief. Don’t forget to send Mitch McConnell a thank you note.
Think about it: Right now the Democratic Party has been split fairly evenly into two factions by a healthy, but contentious primary. But the primary will be over eventually, and the Democrats will have a nominee. No matter which candidate comes out as the party standard bearer, every single Democrat will be unified by a Congress that refuses to allow the current President to fill a seat on the Supreme Court.
Consider, for example, that President Obama nominates a woman to fill the seat and the Democrat nominee happens to be Hillary Clinton. It would be hard to imagine a more perfect rallying cry for Democrats to turn out the vote in every district in America than a bunch of corpulent, male Republicans who refuse to confirm a woman to the court simply because–simply because it’s their birthday party and they would rather hold their breath until they turn blue before letting anyone else look at the birthday cake, let alone have a piece.
The Democrats would raise tens of millions of dollars solely on ads decrying the GOP blocking a woman justice.
Women who have never voted for a Democrat before would vote for Hillary Clinton because Mitch McConnell and his team of white men in power would have made the morality play of injustice towards women in America startlingly powerful and disarmingly simple to understand.
But what if Bernie Sanders is the Democratic nominee? The GOP blocking tactic would be equally as energizing for Sanders–who has attracted millions of followers and small donors by talking about special interests blocking the will of the people to advance their own selfish interests.
One could not dream of a better example of special interests blocking the will of the people than a small group of Republican men refusing to allow a President to carry out his Constitutional responsibility to fill a seat.
Moreover, one of the major themes to emerge for Democrats in the primary has been racial injustice–in particular: structural inequality experienced by African Americans in this country. Given that President Ronald Reagan nominated and confirmed Justice Kennedy in his final year, it would appear that carrying out this duty is acceptable to the GOP when the sitting President is white, but not when he is black.
This point of racial inequality resonates with every single Democrat in every district across the country. Many voters would cross party lines to vote for the Democratic nominee when presented with such clear example of racist double standard.
But what about the Republican nominee? Wouldn’t holding up Obama’s nominee ultimately benefit Trump or Cruz who have rocketed to popularity by maligning President Obama?
Maybe at first this tactic would get some attention for the Republicans. Some attention, but not much. The problem is that the Congressional GOP leadership would have to carry out this tactic for a very, very long time. No matter how much the Republican base may be energized at first, eventually the media narrative will turn to GOP obstructionism.
Going into the general election, voters will have already been listening for months and months to constant media reports of a GOP that simply refuses to allow the President to do what every president has the obligation to do. And that story will make the GOP even less popular than it already is.
Eventually, the GOP nominee will be forced to disagree with GOP Congressional leadership–because there is no reason why the President should not be allowed to have his nominee confirmed other than the fact that this President is Barack Obama.
GOP numbers will drop as the country grows annoyed with GOP do-nothing obstructionism.
It’s a gift from the GOP to Democrats who, ultimately, will get to appoint a new judge anyway when they win the general election.
Maybe Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan hate their jobs–because they will not have them anymore when the GOP pitchforks turn on them.
No cake for either of you.