President Obama still has the better part of a year to serve the U.S. as president. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died last month, leaving a vacant seat on an otherwise divisive court. According to the Constitution of the United States, the framework for our entire legal system, it is the responsibility of the president to nominate a candidate to fill that vacancy with the “advice and consent” of the Senate. All true, indisputable facts. The problem is, that the Senate is refusing to advise or consent. They are basically sitting back, arms crossed, saying that they will wait until after a new president takes office next January, ten months from now, before confirming any presidential nomination. The two big cracks in their plan are that they are proving to the people who elected them into office, the people who pay their salaries, that they are unwilling to do their jobs, and they are operating under the assumption that their candidate will win the November election. That assumption and their actions today may cost the GOP credibility with the public for a very long time to come. Even if a republican is elected to the office of president, I think that person will be working with a democratic Senate. Here is why:
24 republican senators and 2 independent senators are coming up for re-election November 2016
10 democratic senators are up for re-election in 2016
Of the 24 republican senators up for re-election this year, I believe the following are likely retain their seat:
- John McCain (Arizona) – Popular senator, and although he is 79 years of age, Trump ensured that McCain will be re-elected as long as he chooses to run by mocking him for being a POW during the Vietnam War.
- Kelly Ayotte (New Hampshire) – although more moderate than republicans would like, she is likely to be able to command a portion of the democrat vote
- Rob Portman (Ohio) – fairly popular, likely to be re-elected
- Tim Scott (South Carolina) – quite popular, particularly with African-Americans
The following are candidates who have indicated they will not be seeking re-election:
- Marco Rubio – Florida
- Dan Coats – Indiana
- David Vitter – Louisiana
Two others who I believe are unlikely to seek re-election based on their age:
- Richard Shelby – Alabama (81 years old)
- Chuck Grassley – Iowa (82 years old)
I also believe that Senator Mike Lee of Utah will be un-electable in November because of his move to block a bi-partisan bill that would assist Flint, Michigan in replacing lead-contaminated water pipes. This in itself is likely to doom him to obscurity.
Assuming that Shelby and Grassley do not seek re-election, there are five seats that will not be filled by an incumbent. That leaves sixteen seats up for grabs. Ordinarily, unless there has been a scandal or the incumbent has done a really poor job during his time in office, he/she has a built in advantage. However, in light of the public’s very negative perception of congress and their failures to do the job for which they were elected, I do not think it will be difficult for the democrats to gain at least five new seats, putting them in the majority of the senate. I don’t even mention the House of Representatives, as this same type of analysis for the House would require much more time and effort than I care to tackle at this time, and the House is irrelevant to the discussion of nominating and confirming a Supreme Court Justice.
Now, given that the above assumption is true, extrapolate just a little. Let us make one additional assumption, that Hillary Clinton is elected president in the general election in November. She has already suggested that she might nominate Barack Obama to fill the vacant position, assuming it is not filled by that time, which seems to be the likelihood. Obama is certainly well qualified, as a former Constitutional Law Professor. She nominates Obama, the democratic Senate confirms the nomination, and the republicans have essentially achieved the exact opposite of what they are hoping to accomplish with the little games they are playing this year. It does seem that it would be poetic justice for Mitch McConnell and his cronies.
I am sickened and disgusted to think that the very men and women who are elected to represent us, to whom we pay a salary that exceeds that which most of us earn, are so incompetent. In a non-government job, they would be told to do their job or be fired. There is absolutely no scenario that seems likely to be a winning one for the nation and its citizens under the current congress, so it appears that 2016 will go down in recorded history as the year that wasn’t. The year that lawmakers took a paid vacation from their jobs. This, people, is the result of the so-called “tea party movement”, and it was inevitable, in fact predicted, years ago. So do not criticize President Obama for issuing executive orders to get things done … it is the only way anything can get done in this environment. Let us just hope no real crises arise this year that actually require Congress to make a decision, else we are doomed.