As news breaks that every member of the Republican Senate Judiciary Committee has refused to even hold a hearing to consider whoever President Obama chooses fill the Supreme Court Justice seat that is now vacant with the death of Antonin Scalia, a new poll from Public Policy Polling shows that Americans are furious at their Congress for refusing to fulfill their Constitutional duties and ensure that the highest court of the land is fully staffed.
Strong majorities of voters- 58/35 in Ohio and 57/40 in Pennsylvania- think that the vacant seat on the Supreme Court should be filled this year. What’s particularly noteworthy about those numbers- and concerning for [Sen. Rob] Portman and [Sen. Pat] Toomey- is how emphatic the support for approving a replacement is among independent voters. In Ohio they think a new Justice should be named this year 70/24 and in Pennsylvania it’s 60/37. Those independent voters are going to make the difference in these tight Senate races, and they have no tolerance for obstructionism on the vacancy.
More importantly, it appears that the American people are particularly incensed at the Republican establishment’s refusal to even consider the President’s nominee. Respondents in both states overwhelmingly believe that the Senate should at least wait for the White House to make a proposal and give him or her the proper consideration that such a serious matter entails – by a 76/20 spread in Pennsylvania and 74/18 one in Ohio. Over 50% of those polled in both states said they would be less likely to re-elect those Senators if they fail to confirm a nominee this year.
The Republican Party has entirely given up on any pretense at governance or giving any regard to what the citizens they ostensibly represent think about them or their behavior. Wearing their historically awful 11% approval rating as a badge of pride, it is now more clear than ever that the only way to punish these obstructionist ideologues is to vote them out of office. The Rachel Maddow Blog made an interesting observation today about the way Republican voters enable their elected officials to such inappropriate behavior by never responding to their dangerous antics:
It sounds cynical and undemocratic, but by all appearances, GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill just don’t buy into the notion that there will ever be a public backlash against them – on practically anything. Cycle after cycle, their antics are rewarded, even after a government shutdown, a debt-ceiling crisis, and a complete unwillingness to govern on practically issue. Periodically, someone will say, “The public won’t stand for this,” to which Republicans respond, “Of course they will. Voters don’t pay much attention anyway.”
It is very likely that the sentiments found in the polling data will be echoed in most other states. Independent voters are going to play a huge role in taking back the Senate from Republican candidates, whether they be the establishment obstructionists or the next generation of Tea Party obstructionists. This is the election in which we must prove them wrong, and replace these traitors with a Congress which will work for the betterment of our country instead of for their corporate donors or extremist ideologies.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.