Official Republican policy over the past eight years has been to delegitimize the presidency of Barack Obama, and it looks as if the GOP is prepared to follow the same strategy in a Hillary Clinton administration.
The examples of the Obama delegitimacy campaign are many: The dozens of attempts to overturn the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; the Trump-led campaign to suggest Obama was not born in the United States; the outrageous letter GOP senators sent directly to Iranian leaders; the arrangement of a speech by a foreign head of government without White House participation; the historic refusal even to consider the President’s Supreme Court nominee; and the shutting down of the government in 2013, which cost the United States about $24 billion.
We can see the development of the same obstreperous approach even before all votes are cast: Let’s start with the crazy Trump assertion that the Clinton campaign is somehow colluding with the news media and state election officials (who nationwide are overwhelmingly Republican) to rig the election. To be sure, Trump’s major reasons for making this absurd claim are to justify his loss to his large but extremely fragile ego, to continue his code-word campaign against minorities, and to distract the media and public from the Republican’s long-term campaign to suppress the votes of minorities and the young. But one ramification of his mendacious screeds about election rigging is to delegitimize the election, and by implication, Hillary’s presidency. Recent stories in the news media suggest that many are falling for Trump’s accusations.
But Trump is not alone in planting seeds of doubt about the legitimacy of a Hillary presidency. More than 50 House Republicans have urged the Justice Department to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate whether Clinton Foundation donors had unusual access to Hillary Clinton while she served as Secretary of State. GOP Congressperson Jason Chavetz, who recently became the poster boy for flip-flopping because of his off-again, on-again support of Trumpty-Dumpty, promises an investigation of Clinton’s term as Secretary of State lasting two years if he maintains his position as chair of the House Oversight Committee. Tom Filton, current president of the ultra-right Judicial Watch, has coined the expression “preemptive impeachment” to describe his plans for a Republican Congress.
It’s not just a GOP-dominated House of Representatives that will try to delegitimize Hillary’s presidency. GOP Senators Ted Cruz, John McCain and Pat Toomey have all explicitly promised to block any and all Supreme Court nominations that Hillary might make. With three justices over the age of 75, we could be down to five Supreme Court if the Republicans make good on this threat.
To whom will pledging to obstruct the operation of government for another four years appeal? Those who think banning all abortions is the most important issue. Ultra-rich folk who are so selfish that they want to minimize their taxes, even if it means destroying public education and letting our roads and bridges continue to crumble. Large industrial concerns that will suffer if we get serious about fighting global warming and don’t care that the pursuit of clean energy and environmentally friendly business practices will give the economy a large boost. Then there are the racists and those who in their hearts think that women are inferior. Sounds like a rather large basket of deplorables to me.
But they do not represent a majority of Americans, and they don’t even represent all of the Republican Party. A majority of Americans understand that man-made global warming (I hate the euphemistic “climate change”) is happening. Most want to raise the minimum wage, make college more affordable and invest more in our decaying infrastructure. Most Americans, especially among the young, believe in an open, pluralistic society.
Perhaps most significantly, most Americans are tired of Washington’s gridlock and the endless political sniping that has dominated 16 or the last 24 years of American government, that is, the years when Democrats held the White House. Because of news media conflation, many Americans have faulted both sides of the aisle for this ugly political bickering, but the unfolding of the 2016 election cycle has made it obvious that in fact, the Republicans and the Republicans alone are responsible for gridlock by their failure to accept the results of elections.
There is only one way to give Hillary Clinton a chance to fulfill the vision for which an unprecedented landside of Americans will likely vote on November 8. The American people must also give Democrats a majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. With a majority of both houses, Hillary can get a lot accomplished from the most progressive platform in American history by a major party. She can make college affordable, raise the minimum wage, invest in infrastructure, alternative fuels and public education and even raise taxes on the ultra-wealthy. Without a majority on both houses, her presidency will face the constant stonewalling of Republicans and her administration is forced will be forced to wallow in investigation after investigation.
That’s why in this election, everyone who wants to end governmental gridlock—Democrats, Republicans, independents, Libertarians and Greens—must vote a straight-line Democratic ticket, at least for national and state-wide offices. Only racists, the ultra-wealthy and anti-woman extremists have anything to gain from a divided government. Moreover, a historic defeat may enable sensible, unhypocritical Republicans who believe in abiding by election results, such as Jeff Flake, Evan McMillan, John Kasich and Meg Whitman, to take control of the Republican Party.