Grasping the Obvious

Dr. Malcolm Cross

Whoever said nothing’s certain but death and taxes could have safely added something else as well:  The rampant hypocrisy frequently, if not always, on display in Washington and on campaign trails throughout the country.  Two examples in the news last week are especially illuminating—The Republicans’ impeachment of the Homeland Security Secretary for alleged mishandling of the border security crisis while refusing to pass legislation which would give the government more power and resources to police the border, and the Democrats’ attempts to suppress voter turnout for Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. despite their constant yammering about alleged Republican voter suppression efforts.

Let’s unpack.

The impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was, at best, a waste of time which did nothing other than set potentially dangerous precedents for the future.  Mayorkas may not have been doing the job the House Republicans wanted him to do, but obviously, he was doing what President Biden wanted.  Otherwise, Biden could have—and should have—fired him, as was his constitutional right to do so. 

Of course, the acquittal of Mayorkas by a Democratically dominated Senate was a foregone conclusion.  In fact, the Senate simply voted to dismiss the charges without the formality of a trial.  

Case closed?  Not exactly.  Two bad precedents were set.

The House Republicans, by impeaching a cabinet officer for doing what his president wanted him to do have set a precedent by which someday House Democrats, if they have a majority, could impeach a cabinet officer in a Republican administration.  And Senate Democrats, by refusing to conduct even a minimal trial, have likewise set a precedent by which Senate Republicans could someday rebuff Democratic efforts to try an impeached Republican without any consideration of the merits of the case.  Both sides have much to regret, although it is not clear that anyone in Congress realizes that yet.  We’ll see.

Moreover, this whole sordid episode also reveals GOP hypocrisy on the entire border control issue.  Since President Biden, on the first day of his administration, reversed by executive order President Trump’s border control measures, Republicans in Congress have charged him, accurately and justifiably, with making the situation worse.  But at the same time House Republicans have refused to support proposals which, if enacted, would give the federal government more border control resources.  Their excuse is that Biden already has the power to strengthen the border via executive action—a point which Biden, with questionable accuracy, refutes while demanding legislation to strengthen his powers.  

So why doesn’t the GOP call Biden’s bluff, pass legislation giving him all the power he wants to improve border security, and hold him accountable for results?  Former President Trump apparently told House Republicans last winter to scuttle a border security bill which would have empowered Biden to do more.  News reports indicated that Trump thought that rejecting the bill would prolong the crisis on the southern border, thereby diminishing Biden’s popularity and increasing his own chances of regaining the White House.  In short, congressional Republicans are denouncing the Biden administration for its lax border policies and even impeaching Mayorkas, while still refusing to do anything substantive to remedy a situation they allegedly deplore, all for the sake of winning the upcoming election.

Also, last week’s news featured reports that Biden and the Democrats are becoming increasingly concerned with the impact that the candidacy of RFK Jr. may have in November.  The thinking is that he’ll take more votes away from Biden than from Trump.  In an election which will no doubt be decided in a few key states where the Democrats and the GOP are evenly balanced, the Democrats’ concerns are legitimate.  The shift of a few thousand votes away from Biden in Michigan, Pennsylvania, or any other state where Biden and Trump are in a statistical dead heat according to the polls may well throw the election to Trump.  And the GOP is doing its best to bring about such a shift by advertising RFK Jr.’s allegedly extreme liberalism to make him more attractive to Democratic voters dissatisfied with Biden.

To counteract the potentially disastrous (from a Democratic perspective) impact of the RFK Jr. candidacy on the election outcome, the Biden campaign has begun rolling out the big guns.  It’s enlisted numerous Kennedys to endorse Biden and warn the public of the danger he allegedly poses to Biden’s re-election chances.  Moreover, we can expect the Biden campaign to take whatever measures are needed to keep RFK Jr.’s name off the ballot in as many states as possible, as it did during the primaries when it successfully blocked the names of other challengers to Biden’s renomination from appearing on primary ballots.

The Democrats like to proclaim their support for greater ballot access for more voters while accusing the GOP of trying to suppress voter turnout.  But by keeping names off ballots, the Democrats may not be suppressing the right of citizens to vote, but they are suppressing the right of them to vote for any Democrat but Biden.

Hypocrisy by both parties seems to be a key feature in American politics.  How long will it last?  For as long as we let it.

Malcolm L. Cross has lived in Stephenville since 1987 and taught politics and government at Tarleton for 36 years, retiring in 2023. His political and civic activities include service on the Stephenville City Council (2000-2014) and on the Erath County Republican Executive Committee (1990-2024).  He was Mayor pro-tem of Stephenville from 2008 to 2014.  He has served on the Board of Directors of the Stephenville
Economic Development Authority since 2018 and as chair of the Erath County Appraisal District’s Appraisal Review Board since 2015.  He is also a member of the Stephenville Rotary Club, the Board of Vestry of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, and the Executive Committee of the Boy Scouts’ Pecan Valley District.  Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole.

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