I read the news today: President-elect Trump’s cabinet picks are going to be voted on by the Senate before the nominees have been vetted by the Office of Government Ethics. Already, of course, there are threats by Democrats about delaying the votes, and counter-threats from Republicans like the following:
“Holding up confirmations just for delay’s sake is irresponsible and it is dangerous.”
That’s what Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, was quoted as saying in the New York Times. Cornyn, by the way, is one of the Senators who wrote a letter in February of 2016, ten days after Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died, promising in his letter to “withhold consent on any nominee to the Supreme Court submitted by this President [Obama].” That was February of 2016, eleven months before Obama finishes his presidency. That means that Cornyn was actively delaying for a minimum of one year the placement of a ninth (potentially tie-breaking) Supreme Court Justice, leaving the country for a minimum of one year with an incredibly divided Supreme Court, unable to take on important cases because of nearly guaranteed outcomes that would be evenly split 4-4.
Frankly, then, Cornyn is a guy who doesn’t care about justice, based on the fact that he wants to obstruct the process of filling a vacant seat in the highest court in our national Justice Department. And he’s not alone: any obstructionist (Republican or Democrat or Tea Party or Freedom Caucus or Socialist or Independent) who is not willing to compromise is preventing government from functioning. This has been the expressed purpose of Tea Party politics, and it is now gaining traction among some on the left (see the Indivisible Guide, for example) who are tired of being defeated by uncompromising obstructionists.
But is that what’s going on with Democratic Senators requesting that members of our President-elect’s cabinet be vetted by the Office of Government Ethics before they’re approved? NO!
What’s “irresponsible and dangerous,” Senator Cornyn and your cronies, is not vetting people in government. It’s allowing a demagogue self-proclaimed billionaire to stuff his cabinet with other super-rich individuals without vetting them first. It’s irresponsible and dangerous to assume that these super-rich individuals – who have spent their lives looking out for their own self-interests – will care at all about the well-being of average Americans … or citizens of the world, for that matter, or the world itself, for that matter, as long as they make their personal un-taxable millions of dollars.
I’m sticking with the millions, not the millionaires. I’m sticking with ethics, not the abandonment of ethics. I’m calling out obstructionists like Cornyn who have refused to let government function while they’ve been elected to make government function, all the while proclaiming that government doesn’t function well. Frankly, it doesn’t function well because people who refuse to participate in it (obstructionists like Cornyn and Cruz and McConnell and many others) have somehow been elected to make it function. They don’t believe in the role of a functioning government, so let’s stop electing them to the government, and start electing people who believe there’s a role for government.
Wanna know who else wrote that letter of promised obstructionism with John Cornyn? Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, an Alabama Senator who has been nominated by Trump to be our national Attorney General. Yes, let’s rush the process to get this guy an even more important position in the federal government; let’s rush the process to get a guy who obstructs justice to be one of the highest voices of justice in the U.S. (besides the Supreme Court, but we know that Sessions and Cornyn don’t really care about a functional Supreme Court). Let’s rush the process to get Jeff Sessions into the President-elect’s cabinet: Jeff Sessions who believes in water-boarding and doesn’t believe in equal pay for women; believes in halting Muslim immigration and doesn’t believe in the Voting Rights Act; believes in wire-tapping without warrant and doesn’t believe in equal rights for our LGBTQ population. That is irresponsible and dangerous.
As of the writing of this blog post, it has not been announced which nominees, in particular, have not completed the paperwork for the Office of Government Ethics. They should all be vetted before they take a position in our federal government.