Finally, A Little Fire From The Democratic Leadership

Stunned Democratic lawmakers finally push back

Kevin Lee Drum

Kevin Lee Drum

While many voters in the Democratic party and beyond have been vocally protesting, Democratic leadership has been remarkably quiet in the months since the election. How much of this silence comes from licking wounds, and how much from biding time waiting for the right moment is unclear. Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader, is apparently done with silence.

President-Elect Donald Trump’s cabinet nominations have been sources of contention across the political space with objections being raised about conflicts of interest, bigotry, ties to Russia, and many others that mirror objections to Trump himself. The confirmation process of President-Elect Trump’s cabinet picks offers Democrats a chance to continue to hammer the Republicans and Trump on issues raised since, and during, the Presidential campaign.

In an attempt to minimize the amount of time, political capital, and bad press generated by the nomination process, Republicans have packed as many nomination hearings as possible into as little time as possible resulting in marathon hearings with four or more candidates on a given day. Rushing in such a manner has resulted is sloppy or incomplete background checks, ethics packages and other vetting procedures.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has pushed to have the confirmation hearings spread out over a longer time to guarantee proper vetting. While Senator Schumer’s efforts are worthy of note, how he has gone about them is almost as important. Below is a letter sent from Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid back in 2009. Senator Schumer’s additions are in sharpie.

Too often Democratic responses to Republican actions seem formulaic forays from a stuffy moral high ground resulting in hollow statements that lack passion or the ring of authenticity. By sending this letter in Jon Stewart style, Senator Schumer displays the hypocrisy Republicans in a humorous manner making an appeal to our shared national culture.

By making his statement about equal application of the rules rather than objecting to any specific candidate, Senator Schumer reminds us that the way we go about politics is as important if not more important than specific outcomes. Rules and best practices allow for a fruitful opposition to the sitting majority that does not deteriorate simply into faction or partisanship. We are in this together and we have to continue to live and work with each other, especially such a close and critical community as the U.S. Senate. Our founders recognized the danger in allowing the democratic majority unfettered power to impose its current will. At its heart the U.S. Constitution is a collection of rules and best practices created to address this structural weakness in democracy. Senator Schumer’s letter, as well as Senator McConnell’s original, emphasize the need for appropriate time and scrutiny in order to help insure that nominees have the best interests of the American people at heart.

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